Charles Malone | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Charles Malone 

N.C. Senate District 15

Full Legal Name: Charles Joyner Malone

Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Charles Malone

Office Sought/District: NC Senate Dist. 15

Party: Democrat

Date of Birth: November 12, 1947

Home Address: 121-205 Calibre Chase Dr., Raleigh, NC 27609

Mailing Address (if different from home):

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: NC Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources

Years lived in North Carolina: 62 (all my life)

Home Phone: 919-896-7091

Work Phone: 919-715-2944


1. What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

The central issue in North Carolina is economic recovery and central to that is lowering the unemployment rate, getting people back to work. Helping small businesses survive is key to this recovery and that includes exploring clean energy product research and development, training for the unemployed, and incentives for businesses to hire the unemployed.

Secondly, we must continue to be strong stewards of our environment. In the Triangle area, protecting Jordan and Falls lakes from excessive effluents is a vital issue. We must keep the source of our drinking water and the home to many family recreational opportunities in good shape environmentally. Along with clean water, of course, come reducing the traffic congestion to lower carbon emissions by promoting transit options including bus expansion, and light and commuter rail development.

Thirdly, I believe we face a crisis of leadership in government. The people do not believe that their leaders are acting in the interests of the public and that politicians are in it for themselves only. Widespread corruption undermines public faith in government and that is a serious long term problem for the administration of public affairs that have a huge affect on the people, both from a national, state and local standpoint. The toxic atmosphere between the major parties is causing a decline in good and effective governing. We can keep our principles without losing our manners.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

In terms of job recovery and economy improvements, I think my most relevant experience is having been a small business manager for over ten years. I have faced the challenges of meeting a payroll, of balancing budgets to keep costs down, of seeking innovative products and of cooperating with regulators. While in the home improvement field, I once took down 20 storm doors with plate glass and replaced them with acrylic glass to abide with OSHA regulations. It was costly, but also the right thing to do. All such products now have safety glass and the public is better off for it.

Environmentally, I've had the opportunity to work for over ten years in the NC Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources where I have mostly worked in the position classification area. I was able to audit jobs and see firsthand what environmental specialists, hydrogeologists, chemists, park rangers, marine biologists and environmental engineers do to safeguard our natural resources and environment. I had a direct hand in analyzing DENR's divisions and job relationships and was able to help shape the agency's approach to its core mission through its use of its human resources. I was most proud of my work in developing job parity between key positions in the NC Dept. of Transportation and DENR's Eco Enhancement Program where a joint-team was formed to match building projects and its needed environmental mitigation.

And, finally, I am a licensed mediator in state government and am the Equal Employment Opportunity officer, so I am constantly working with people at odds with each other and trying to find common ground for an amiable solution. I led a small business for years, plus was editor of a weekly newspaper—all positions that demanded I find an effective way to deal with difficult people and situations. I have a good record, I hope, and would be glad to re-visit any of the people I have worked with through the years because I have never burn bridges along the way, even if I was in opposition to my counterparts on a particular question. The opposition should always be about the issue, not the person. My record as an even tempered conciliator will serve me well in the often contentious legislature. I have much less interested in advancing within my party than I am in being an effective legislator—one who sponsors good bills that improve the lives of ordinary people. It really is that simple. I must be a member of one party, of course, and I agree most of the time with the philosophy of the Democratic Party, but particular legislation may not lend itself to partisan politics, and that is where I would draw the line.

3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am a political moderate, generally speaking. I am a traditional person in terms of respecting the best of the past and in upholding civility in approaching problems, but accept innovative approaches to governing that seek results over techniques. Even the national Constitution is an elastic work that allows amendments. We must "act anew" as Lincoln wrote to make advances in the world.

I was ahead of my time in supporting integration in my high school in the 1960s and in hiring minorities in my small business in the 1970s. I believe we have to move out front when the siren sounds against the fires of injustice. We must be willing to lose our friends, if need be, to do what we think is right. And often, it seems to me, doing right is when we are "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable."

My campaign platform stands strongly in favor of:

Supporting small businesses by enacting legislation that would give them the advantages that large companies receive through tax credits and R&D privileges.

Supporting the rights of local farm product growers against invasive oversight for what is largely an organic farm enterprise.

Seeking an expanded and affordable health care system for all people.

Wanting to see affordable housing opportunities be developed everywhere.

Supporting tax reform, too, that will equitably spread the responsibility of paying for government services that we all enjoy. It is only humane for the well off to give a bit more to ensure that all can survive and contribute to society.

And I support a comprehensive approach to lowering the carbon footprint in this area that is large due to too many cars on the road, and because fossil fuels abound from our power plants and factories. We must become less dependent on fossil fuels and learn to get our energy from sustainable and clean sourcesand that will also help our country become less dependent on alien governments that would harm us, if convenient to their interests, by endangering our access to vital fuel sources abroad.

4. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

I support collective bargaining for state employees in their negotiations with the Legislature for benefits and pay. The bargaining table should not include only the executive and legislative, but a representative of the employees—and that is the State Employees Association of North Carolina—to advocate for justice for the thousands of employees who have nothing to do with politics, but everything to do with administering the governmental policies decided by the General Assembly. Then the powers that be might hesitate before balancing the state budget on the backs of its employees, first, before they contemplate other cuts on behalf of balancing the budget.

5. 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.

I believe that my desire to achieve a reformed tax structure will be a thankless endeavor, even though it is of high importance to adequately financing state government. I will be less popular with high income people because I expect them to share a bit more with those who have much less, with corporations because I want them to void unfair loopholes in their tax obligations, with government programs that cost the taxpayers to the hilt without a proven purpose for existing anymore, and to some smaller businesses who have services that may need to be taxed. It will be a tax garden full of avoidance weeds, and plucking them out will cause much pain and anger, but I will be the gardener with the tools to do the job, as I will be obliged to do.

6. If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment on:

a. Poverty: What steps, if any, do you advocate to lift up the poor in North Carolina?

First, we must be sure expanded health care coverage, including the expansion of Medicaid, is truly helping impoverished families and individuals to have this benefit. Secondly, we must be sure unemployment benefits are extended as much as possible, and that small businesses are given the maximum tax credits to create jobs—for the best way to get people out of debt is to have a job, not temporary help, even as kind as it is to do. And we must also ensure housing assistance and food assistance for qualified recipients to keep people with a roof over their heads and food on the table. No child can expect to achieve in school, if he or she is weakened by hunger or sick from the lack of basics of living.

b. Transportation needs in the state, including roads and transit in the Triangle?

We need to invest in strong road corridors between cities and towns, light rail within municipalities, improved freight lines on existing railroad tracks, expanded and improved bus service, and commuter rail systems that will connect our cities within and without N. C.

c. Job creation: What strategies should the state use to attract new business and lower the unemployment rate?

We need to invest in a green economy, because the clean energy impetus is a magnet for new jobs, new training, new materials and business opportunities for both the highly educated and those ex-furniture and ex-apparel workers to gravitate to in order to have a sustainable, fully working populace. And we should attract companies with basics—local attractions such as strong schools, wonderful amities, cultural activities, quality of life and fine medical facilities—not unfair tax incentives that local and loyal businesses do not receive.

d. Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance?

We have expanded health care now by law from the Obama administration, but we must follow through in N. C. by making sure our primary insurance provider, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, is operating with fewer secrets in the future and in a way we can truly measure its costs and can set up a condition where our medical costs will be lowered. We need to make sure health insurance reform delivers stability and security to the people. We need to must make a reality out of the hallmarks of health reform, such as no denials for a pre-existing condition, no spikes in premiums if you fall ill, no lifetime or annual limits on coverage, and free preventive care.

e. Foreclosures: What more should the state be doing to help consumers avoid foreclosure and hold onto their homes?

We should enact a tax credit for home sold at a loss, and not credit-wise penalize those who short sell—which is better than walking away from a house, and, finally, we should offer loans for people who are losing home due to unemployment, instead of being in a bad loan.

f. The mental health crisis: Everyone agrees it's a mess. Now what?

The mentally ill and addicted are filling our emergency rooms and our jails. Our dollars are used more for mental health bureaucracy than for actual care. It is a mess, indeed. We need to do have closer oversight of psychiatric and developmentally disabled hospitals, and we should invest more in home care facilities to keep those who do not need to be institutionalized at home, but with assisted care. We need a comprehensive approach to the treatment of mental illness that combines elements of primary and behavioral health care. It is not merely a lock them up and they will go away situation. We must treat, not punish, the mentally ill, developmentally disabled and the addicted.

f. Taxes: Given the needs, are they too high? Too low? Too regressive? Where else should the sales tax be applied? Should it be raised? What's your position on "combined reporting" for national corporations?

Our country was begun partly out of a sense that the people were being unfairly taxed, and we still struggle today with what is a fair tax. Given the current tough economic times, taxes are not so much high, as unfair. Corporations and special interests have loopholes unavailable to the working and middle class. The sales tax needs to broaden its base, but carefully as to not undercut small businesses. Taxes could be raised, but only in a progressive way and into those areas that are currently unfairly protected from taxation. And in regard to "combined reporting," I support taxing the combined profits of N. C. companies, not just their N. C. funds.

g. Energy: What steps, if any, should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What policies should be put in place to incentivize innovation in wind, solar and future energy sources?

We should be earnestly working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to safeguard the health and safety of future generations. We can begin by enforcing effective standards for such emissions, especially for the worst offenders in the energy and manufacturing areas. We also should seek energy independence from foreign oil, so that we are not continuing to pay billions to unstable nations who do not share our values can get richer, and when they want, cut off our supply lines. American values demand that we build up energy independence by developing new sources of energy, such as sustainable sources like wind, water, solar, nuclear exploration, biofuel and energy conservation. Tax credits and grants should be available to groups able to develop such innovations in wind, solar and future energy sources.

6. What local bills would you introduce and how closely will you work with local elected leaders in advancing their legislative agendas?

I do not have a preference concerning local bills, but would advance any good idea or need that is home-based, many which would be local applications of larger concerns such as law and order, social justice, environmental progress, economic good, quality education and so on. I would work closely with local legislators, city and county officials to meet their goals. It would be my top priority to have an open door to all local elected leaders, regardless of party, so they would know that their ideas would be treated on their merits, and only on its merit. The people deserve no less than this from its leaders.

7. What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether gay marriages or civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina; also, whether sexual orientation and identity should be added as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws, including state personnel laws.

I would support the status of a civil union in North Carolina for gay couples who wish to formalize their relationship, while I also support the right of churches to define marriage as they see fit.

It is an evolving issue of these times, certainly, and the idea that anyone could be denied their civil rights because of who they are, and that includes their sexual orientation and identity, is not supportable from a moral point of view. And these protections for LGBT rights should be codified under the protected classes under state anti-discrimination laws, including state personnel laws.

8. Do you support women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Given that North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, do you support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control?

I support a woman's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose." I also support incentives for a mother to keep the child. There should not be pressure for a woman to forego birth for abortion, or vice versa, and provisions should be made to help women who need financial help to keep and rear the child, or to give the child up for adoption. Supporting "choice" alone without facing up to the real issues involved is like staying on a moral mountain top, too high up to hear the cries of pain from those having to choose—not vicariously—but for themselves.

I do support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control. Ignorance doesn't advance anything.

9. What steps will you take to increase transparency and outreach to constituents, and root out corruption, not only personally but among other General Assembly members?

Corruption by public leaders, or their supporters, undermines the confidence of the people in its democratic form of government. It is a cancer on the body politic. Our recent rash of corruption in North Carolina government is alarming and disappointing. We need to learn from it, enact stronger anti-corruption laws against such behavior, and move on to do our public business in a transparent and moral way. And since moral persuasion is not always enough, I would support increased penalties against public malfeasance in office.

Specifically, I would not vote to give a government contract to a business I had any financial interest in. The act of "recusing" should be carried out much more by our legislators than has been the case. It is common sense that such voting is a conflict of interest and that it doesn't pass the "smell test." The people see this, why not their leaders? I see it, you can rest assured. As it has been written, "the best disinfectant is sunshine."

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