Name as it appears on the ballot: Wayne Goodwin
Date of Birth: Feb. 22, 1967
Campaign Web Site: www.waynegoodwin.org
Occupation & Employer: Assistant Insurance Commissioner; NC Dept of Insurance
Years lived in North Carolina: 41 years
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing the office of Insurance Commissioner? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
I believe the most important issues facing the office of Insurance Commissioner are:
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the board? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
My record as a public official and my professional experience demonstrate that I will be the most effective among the 2008 candidates for Insurance Commissioner.
I have worked as Assistant Commissioner of Insurance for three years. Also in that role with the Department of Insurance, I have served as Assistant State Fire Marshal. Either alongside or when necessary in place of Commissioner Jim Long, I have performed duties of the Insurance Commissioner as directed. Those duties include:
I also worked as Assistant General Counsel for the Department of Insurance between my legislative service and my elevation to Assistant Insurance Commissioner. In that role I handled legal matters as assigned to me. Those duties required me to work with the Attorney Generals office, insurance industry counsel, and consumers.
Highly relevant to the office of Insurance Commissioner is my four terms (8 years) of service as an elected State Representative in the General Assembly. Most of my colleagues continue to serve in the legislature; the relationships developed over that time and my unique ability to persuade, or dissuade when appropriate, my colleagues on matters pertaining to consumers, public safety, and the insurance industry will prove quite vital to a successful term as Insurance Commissioner. In fact, I can state without question that my recent legislative service has helped me immensely already in my work as Assistant Commissioner of Insurance because that experience helped me successfully advocate for the Departments position on myriad items. Moreover, while in the legislature myself I sponsored significant insurance legislation of benefit to consumers and families.
Also of significance is my work in the private sector. For 13+ years, in my capacity as an attorney, I represented consumers and small businesses who had been wrongly denied insurance coverage or whose claims had been undervalued.
I am the only Insurance Commissioner candidate who is truly best prepared to lead the Department of Insurance from Day One!
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I have always been a Democrat and always will be. Though I typically eschew labels, I consider myself a Terry Sanford-Jim Hunt Democrat most certainly a progressive Democrat who has a proven record over 8 years in the legislature and 4 years of chairing the Platform Committee of the North Carolina Democratic Party. Because of my strong emphasis on consumer protection and reasonable regulation in the public interest, my political philosophy is clearly present in both my past achievements and my campaign platform. When the Independent Weekly endorsed me for Labor Commissioner in 2004, I believe my record of consumer (and workplace) protection and reasonable regulation in the public interest was in large part the basis for that strong and much appreciated - endorsement.
4. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I define a just community as a community where there is fairness and equality. If elected as Insurance Commissioner, my pledge to always seek fair and equitable insurance rates will help in furthering the goal of a just community. In my commitment to seeking affordable, accessible health insurance for everyone, we will also contribute toward building that just community we and The Independent seek. I tremble at what may happen to our consumers and working families in the Triangle if the next Insurance Commissioner has only represented or worked for the insurance industry or doesnt understand the intricacies of the job beyond insurance. If voters choose me as their commissioner, then consumers and working families and all persons seeking a just community will be in much better hands.
5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
It is likely in the area of coastal insurance. Experts for years have told us of the dangers of continuing to build closer and closer to the shoreline. Global climate change, rising ocean waters, and common shoreline erosion are all enemies of persons who choose to build closest to the ocean. Notwithstanding reasons to the contrary, there are still many who build the mega-size, multi-million dollar beach homes and, when there is a major storm, choose to re-build in the same location even though the public and/or private insurors helped pay for the rebuilding. To properly address concerns about coastal insurance carriers having appropriate reserves, whether rates on the coast actuarially reflect the true risk, and to increase public safety, I will continue my partnership with the first responders and engineers who promote stronger building codes on the coast, and promote protections from windborne debris. This principled stand may not win me popularity points with voters who live within 1 mile of the ocean or the homebuilders who make money off them, but it is the right thing to do. It is a matter of public safety, as well as financial and actuarial responsibility.
6. Will you accept campaign contributions from donors employed by insurers and their PACs? Why or why not?
As noted in my campaign already, I reject campaign contributions above $200 from individuals employed by companies regulated by the Insurance Commissioner. Additionally, my campaign and I reject ALL campaign contributions from insurance industry PACs. The limitation to $200 or less is based on the pilot voluntary, public financing program in place for the 2008 election of Insurance Commissioner. My opting in to the public financing program is a drastic change from the usual Insurance Commissioner election campaign where candidates routinely ask for and receive contributions up to $4,000.
7. Whats your view of Blue Cross Blue Shields role as a nonprofit insurance company acting in the public interest? What action would you take to influence their policies?
Consistent with my position while a State legislator and based on all information available to me at the current time, I will oppose conversion to a for-profit enterprise. During my legislative service I learned time and again about the founding of Blue Cross Blue Shield as a nonprofit insurance company and how the State gave the company special treatment in the tax laws, etc., as part of its commitment to the public interest.
As for your question about action to influence their policies, I intend to do the same with any insurance company or group that has either a direct or indirect relationship with the Department: That is, I will fervently maintain and build on an open line of communications so that my emphasis on consumer protection/competitive insurance markets/affordable health insurance is regularly shared with BCBS and will encourage BCBS to use that same line of personal communications to keep me apprised of its policies relevant to the Department of Insurance and my obligations as Insurance Commissioner. I will treat all companies and entities within the jurisdiction of Insurance Commissioner equal under the law.
8. Given that this election represents the first turnover in Insurance Commissioner in 24 years, give your opinion of the current commissioners tenure, both kudos and criticisms.
It has been an honor to serve in the Department of Insurance as Jim Longs Assistant Commissioner for the past three years. I have had an up-close view of the current Commissioner, learning in great detail about the inner workings of the Department and how it meets its mission as a consumer advocate and how the Insurance Commissioner position exists to serve a dual purpose (consumer protection/low, reasonable insurance rates; and ensuring that solvent insurance companies operate in a competitive market). I have admired Commissioner Longs service and his approach to fair and balanced regulation.
Something of which the general public is not aware is the prominent role that the Insurance Commissioner (most profoundly during Jim Longs tenure) has in the realm of safety preparedness and injury prevention. In his joint role as State Fire Marshal he has worked very closely with firefighters and other first responders all across North Carolina. More than any past Insurance Commissioner, he has been a stalwart supporter of the fire service. Commissioner Longs administration has focused on preparedness case in point is the $72 million he has distributed in grants for equipment to fire and rescue departments over the last 20 years and has exhibited an unwavering determination regarding injury prevention. Regarding injury prevention, Commissioner Long founded the Safe Kids program here and it now reaches every corner of the State and is part of a worldwide program. In addition, I am most proud to call him my friend.
As time has passed during his 24 years of service, the insurance climate and the insurance market have constantly evolved. On that point in particular, as part of that evolution we have witnessed how health care and health insurance have become one of the greatest issues facing North Carolina today and into the foreseeable future. As Insurance Commissioner, I will bring a greater focus to this particular issue because it is sorely needed in this day and time.
I neither offer nor have any criticism of my good friend and faithful public servant. However, I do point out that this election is an opportunity for a new Insurance Commissioner to use that new Commissioners specific talents, record, experiences, and goals to address with a fresh start the challenges we face in January 2009, while still building upon the multitude of successes in the Jim Long administration.
9. As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?
As Insurance Commissioner Jim Longs Assistant Commissioner, I followed this matter very closely as it was considered by the Council of State and provided, as was my job, both advice and counsel on every facet of the subject to the best of my ability. His Council of State vote on this is a matter of public record. As an attorney, I have concerns about the Council of State considering any action on such an issue without the opportunity for all persons to present their position to the Council of State; that is, I have due process concerns. Even then, in my opinion, the issue of the execution protocol should fall instead within the penumbra of the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch. Until the statute is amended or stricken, though, and before voting on the execution protocol or any death penalty-related matters, I pledge this: I will remain very deliberate and cautious; do an ample amount of research; consider the matter before me with extreme care; and pray about it before making such a serious decision.