Name as it appears on the ballot: Lisa Baker
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: September 15, 1961
Home address: 213 Arbordale Ct, Cary, NC 27518
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign website: www.lisabaker4house.com
Occupation & employer: Community Volunteer; 3rd generation farmer of family land in Franklin County, NC; former Regional Manager, Tupperware (20+ yrs.)
1. How would you rate the previous session of the General Assembly? Explain. FOR INCUMBENT: What have been your most difficult decisions in your current capacity? Why? FOR CHALLENGERS: What decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? What would you have done different?
It is my opinion that the General Assembly pushed bills through too fast and hid agenda items within unrelated bills. Many General Assembly members showed a lack of respect for teaching jobs and for the students of our state. They mislead North Carolinians with regard to education funding by citing average values for teacher raises knowing full well that many experienced teachers received less than a 1% raise. They also mislead by saying they increased education funding when the expenditure per pupil actually decreased.
As chair of the NC House appropriations committee, my opponent exhibited particularly poor leadership with regard to the education budget. He supported a plan to increase lottery funding as a means of funding public education even though he had been told the increase would not materialize. He then kept this important information even from members of his own political party.
I believe all elected officials need access to as much truthful information as possible so they can make informed decisions. I would have worked on a real, sustainable plan to bring teacher pay and per pupil spending back to the national average.
2. Should the state further cut public education or increase the public education budget? What are your thoughts on the recent cuts to teacher tenure? What are your views on charter schools and voucher programs?
The state should increase the public education budget. In conjunction with low and effectively frozen salaries, the recent cuts to “teacher tenure” (career status) have led to NC teachers looking for, and taking, jobs in neighboring states. Embarrassingly, Houston Public Schools even came to Raleigh twice to hire our teachers. We need to restore respect and bring confidence back to our teachers by supporting them with salaries that will allow them to live above poverty, work only one job, and to contribute to our local economy.
Charter Schools may have some role as incubators for new educational approaches or as specialized academies. However, since such schools receive public monies they need to fall under the same rules as our public schools, particularly with regard to providing opportunities for economically-disadvantaged students and students with special needs.
Voucher programs take away from our public schools in many different ways and limit opportunities for all families to participate equally in public education. Public tax dollars should not be funneled using a voucher program to private or religious schools.
3. Do you believe the Racial Justice Act should be reinstated? Do you believe it’s time for North Carolina to abolish the death penalty?
Yes, I do support the Racial Justice Act. Overall, we need to use fairer, more cost-effective approaches to deal with all criminal offenses in our state. The Racial Justice Act is one way we can ensure that trials are not biased by issues of wealth or race.
People in our state hold a wide array of views regarding the death penalty. Currently, only murder cases can be considered capitol offenses. There have been people wrongly convicted and sentenced to death; a very, very costly penalty in terms of dollars and the potential for error. We need to emphasize overall cost-effective and fair sentencing practices in our justice system, including possible repeal of the death penalty.
4. Are you in favor of the Voter ID law? Why or why not? Do you believe North Carolina’s Voter ID law makes it easier or harder for citizens to vote?
No, I am not in favor of the Voter ID law because it places an undue burden on persons who have a constitutional right to vote. Since there is little evidence of voter fraud, the law unnecessarily wastes tax payer dollars used for issuing IDs and policing the system.
Evidence I have seen suggests the Voter ID law will make it harder for certain groups of voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Hence, the impact will be unbalanced across the population, making the law inherently biased.
5. What is your position on opening North Carolina’s coastline to off-shore drilling and exploration? On fracking? And should additional nuclear plants in North Carolina be encouraged, discouraged or stopped?
I oppose opening our coastline up for off-shore drilling. And I am opposed to fracking. Both practices have the potential for environmental problems that could threaten our pristine beaches, destabilize our bedrock, and pollute our beautiful lakes and rivers.
North Carolina is the 6th most visited state in the nation. As such, these practices are potential threats to tourism and to our economy. The potential for a small amount of non-renewable energy isn’t worth risking our state’s natural resources or the possibility of leaving taxpayers to clean up environmental problems created by private companies.
I am not a nuclear power expert, but I know it requires a long period of time to plan and build new nuclear facilities. Nuclear power also brings with it issues related to nuclear waste. Hence, I think continuing to expand our renewable energy resources (i.e. solar and biofuels) would be of greater economic benefit to our state.
6. What are your views on gay marriage?
I hold firmly to a separation between church and state, and between the privacy rights of individuals and the state. Marriage as a religious matter must be allowed to be considered in a non-state context, while the state is responsible to see that individuals are not discriminated against nor have their rights infringed. At this point in time, our state must grapple with the legal issues surrounding the rights of all who hold marriage licenses recognized by the federal government.
7. What are your views on the Moral Monday movement?
People have a right to express their concerns and views in an orderly and civil way. People choosing to participate in the Moral Monday Movement are just trying to get our state government to listen. They want the government to understand their concerns and work for change that makes life for North Carolinians better, regardless of economic status or political party.
8. What are your views on collective bargaining and the effects of North Carolina’s “right-to-work” law? Would you support a bill enshrining “right-to-work” in the state constitution? Would you support a law that allowed public employees to engage in collective bargaining?
I support many workers’ rights: the right to a living wage, the right to due process, the right to safe working conditions, and the right to non-discrimination. I also think decisions are best made when all stakeholders are represented. Finally, amending our state constitution should always be a last resort to any desired governmental change.
9. If elected, what would you do to protect North Carolina’s environment and natural resources? Do you believe state environmental regulatory bodies need more funding or less funding, and why?
I would work to repeal the fracking legislation as one way to protect our water supply. I am concerned about the move toward drilling and fracking off of our coast, and would want that process slowed. I would also work with experts to understand our options for relying more on alternative energy, like expanding solar farms. We must protect our environment to support our tourism industry and to protect our residents from harmful chemicals.
I do feel that the state environmental regulatory bodies need more funding so they have enough experts to protect our state resources and help guide our elected officials to make well-informed environmental decisions. With the recent cuts to regulatory oversight personnel and resources, we are taking a risk that may result in important information or opportunities falling through the cracks, putting our state’s population at risk.
10. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
Oddly, I am not as concerned about losing popularity points with voters for being principled as I am about having problems within the “political establishment.” The voters of NC House District 36 want someone to stand up for them and be principled. Some voters may not like my insistence that we increase funding for public education; on the other hand, voters are paying their taxes and not receiving the services they need. Speaking up for the “regular person” isn’t always met with popularity, but it is what I do…on principle.
11. Do you support a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy? Would you sign a bill requiring that a woman, before choosing abortion, undergo an ultrasound? Be counseled about alternatives? Or in other ways be discouraged from choosing an abortion?
I trust a woman with the right to make her own decisions when it comes to her body and the situation around her pregnancy. I support the best medical practices for women’s health care, trusting women and their doctors to decide on medically-necessary procedures and to explore all information needed to make informed, responsible decisions. While I personally think abortions should be rare, they should remain available, legal, and readily accessible by all women, particularly in cases of rape, incest or medical necessity. It is not the job of the government to get between a woman and her doctor.
12. On reapportionment, both parties have shown that they will abuse the redistricting process when give a chance. Will you support a bill in the next session to turn all future redistricting over to a non-partisan or bi-partisan independent commission?
As a leader in the last redistricting effort, my opponent did a very poor job. Precinct structure was often disregarded in drawing the districts, yielding even subdivisions that are now divided into two NC House districts. A non-partisan or bi-partisan group would likely be able to make better decisions going forward.