David Price | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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David Price 

Candidate for U.S. House, District 4

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Name as it appears on the ballot: David Price

Date of birth: 8/17/1940

Campaign website: www.priceforcongress.com

Occupation & employer: U.S. House of Representatives

1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing your U.S. House district, the state of North Carolina and the nation? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

After seven years of failed leadership under President Bush, it is critical for our country to reverse the damage done to our economy and our global standing, and to get back in the business of addressing the priorities of the American people.

In the Triangle and across North Carolina, as elsewhere across the nation, we need effective leadership on the economy, education and health care.

On the economic front we must address the financial and housing crises that engulf the nation, as well as find relief for the high energy costs hurting our families. That means establishing a tough and smart regulatory balance for our new financial architecture, taking action to stem the tide of home foreclosures, and helping those who have lost their homes gain affordable housing options. It means confronting the spike in energy prices in the short term and reducing our long-term dependence on foreign oil through conservation, efficiency, and alternative energy development. We also must restore order to our fiscal house, while supporting targeted investments in research and innovation -- investments which have been integral to job creation and the lasting competitiveness of our region. For more, see my answer on question 10.

At the same time, we must reform federal education policies to ensure that deficiencies in our school systems are effectively addressed. I will also continue pursuing my plan to help our public schools recruit and retain qualified teachers.

We must achieve universal health coverage so that every American has access to quality and affordable care including preventive services. In the near term, I will continue pushing the expansion of health coverage for uninsured children, which this President has repeatedly blocked. For more, see my answer on question 4.

Finally, from an international perspective, we must restore America's role as a force for global peace and stability and an exemplar of democratic values. That is why I will continue pressing my plan for a responsible redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq, combined with a robust diplomatic initiative to stabilize Iraq and the broader Middle East. And I will continue my efforts to help strengthen democracies throughout the world by supporting the development of more responsive and accountable legislatures in other nations.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the House of Representatives? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

Government is an instrument of our common purpose. My role as the Triangle's representative to Congress is to ensure that the federal government is a reliable partner in our local efforts to improve our quality of life. Over the years, I have expanded economic opportunity by helping to develop the new EPA campus in RTP and securing funding for local infrastructure projects to help deal with the challenges of our rapid growth. I also initiated the highly successful initiative to improve training for high-tech jobs in community colleges. And I helped expand college opportunity through my Education Affordability Act, enacted in 1997, which allows families to deduct the interest on student loans and withdraw money from their IRAs for education expenses without penalties.

Through my role as Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I have worked to develop a real partnership with our local first responders and ensure that our communities are better prepared for disasters of all kinds. I am also striving to conduct the kind of extensive oversight of the Department of the Homeland Security that has been lacking in recent years. I am pushing for investments to see that FEMA's capabilities are restored, and that we are more adequately securing our ports, transit facilities, and airports. At the same time, the Department must not infringe upon our civil liberties.

I have also sought to ensure that candidates and elected officials are held responsible for their behavior. In 2002, Congress passed my "Stand By Your Ad" Act, which requires candidates to appear in their ads and take responsibility for the content. My efforts in favor of congressional ethics reforms has led to a ban on travel paid by lobbyists and the creation of an independent office to bolster investigations of potential ethics violations. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have pushed for pay-as-you-go budgeting and earmark reform.

My constituents also rely on me to support a foreign policy that is consistent with their values. I opposed the Iraq War and continue to advocate for an orderly withdrawal. I was one for the leaders in Congress pushing for a ban of permanent military bases in Iraq, which was enacted last year. I have been at the forefront of efforts to rein in the abuses of private security contractors. My work continues today as I work to pass legislation ensuring that all contractors are subject to U.S. criminal law and that the executive branch faithfully executes that law.

I am Chairman of a bipartisan House commission that works with developing democracies throughout the world to help them strengthen their legislative bodies. Effective legislatures are important to ensure a government's accountability to its citizens, and they improve the long-term prospects for peace and stability in critical regions throughout the world. My experience with the Commission also equips me with a keen awareness of the need to strengthen our international alliances and to emphasize diplomatic engagement to achieve our foreign policy goals.

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

My experience with the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill during the early 60s was formative in terms of my political and moral outlook, and it forever taught me that applying pressure within our communities and political system could lead to significant progressive change. It put me on a path that led to teaching American politics, political theory, and ethics at Duke. After taking on various political assignments, I decided to run for Congress myself in 1986.

Through my years in service, I have strived to make government meet the needs and goals of the people of the 4th Congressional District. I believe that faithful representation and effective leadership are rooted in a sense of common purpose, which includes promoting the values of equal opportunity and social justice. That is why I have been a strong supporter of public schools, expanding opportunities for higher education, as well as investing in research and innovation as ways to spur economic growth and secure job opportunities for generations to come. And it is why I continue advocating for justice for the uninsured, especially our children.

The United States can serve as a force for good in the world if we live up to our values and we support multilateral approaches to international problems. That is why I have routinely opposed the Bush Administration's foreign policy, which espouses a unilateral approach that undermines international institutions and our democratic values. It is also why I am so actively involved in helping to strengthen our alliances abroad and supporting democratic development through my House Democracy Assistance Commission.

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

Although our nation spends over $2 trillion per year on health care, too many of our citizens do not have access to quality care. Some 47 million Americans have no health insurance whatsoever, and even those who have good coverage often fear they will lose it if they lose their job, develop a serious illness, or if rising health care premiums outstrip their ability to pay. This is simply unacceptable.

The current state of health care has led many Americans -- myself included -- to re-double our efforts on behalf of universal coverage in some form.

In the short run, to help alleviate the health care crisis, I strongly support the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) as a way to cover more uninsured low-income children in North Carolina and around the country. But we need to make two major improvements. We first need to provide enough funding to enroll the 116,000 uninsured children in our state who are eligible for the program but are not yet being served. We must also expand funding to make eligible more children in North Carolina who come from families of modest income and have no insurance.

I also support allowing seniors over 55 to buy into Medicare at cost, premium assistance to help unemployed workers retain their health insurance between jobs, the establishment of a health coverage pool to help small businesses purchase affordable insurance for their employees, and full funding for state Medicaid programs. 

5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

Since the terrible events of 9/11, our country has been forced to confront a horrific reality: not only are there people in the world who wish to do America harm, but they have the capacity to succeed. Keeping our country and the American people safe from terrorist and other threats has become a foremost public concern, prompting, among other things, the most significant governmental reorganization of our lifetime.

While many of these changes were long overdue, it's clear that some in government have attempted to exploit 9/11 for their own agendas. The Bush administration has repeatedly played the fear card to build popular support for policies that are not built on solid substantive ground. It's a powerful appeal - after all, nothing motivates quite like fear. I and many of my colleagues in Congress who have stood up against these ill-advised maneuvers have been dismissed and lambasted as "unpatriotic."

The latest such effort is the Bush Administration's attempt to steamroll Congress in order to pass surveillance legislation that does not adequately protect the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. The President has given speech after speech claiming that Congress's refusal to enact his bill has placed Americans in danger of terrorist attacks, and I know from talking to constituents that he has convinced many of them.

But the facts are not on the President's side. All existing surveillance orders pursuant to the Protect America Act continue to be in effect, and the intelligence community still has multiple tools which can be utilized to seek authorization for surveillance and to conduct warrantless surveillance on foreign subjects. The real differences that I have with the President involve: 1) giving the administration and the Attorney General authority that should remain with the courts, and 2) his proposal for a blanket, retroactive grant of immunity to telecommunications companies without revealing to Congress what activities were undertaken by the companies.

This is one of many examples, but I believe it illustrates that I will analyze legislation carefully and continue to stand firm against attempts by this or any Administration to overreach. It is my responsibility to stand for the rule of law, checks and balances, and civil liberties, and to demonstrate that such values are compatible with America's security.

6. The U.S. has been fighting the war in Iraq for five years. Was the decision to invade a mistake? What should our policy in Iraq be today? Should we base substantial military forces there for the foreseeable future? Start to withdraw now, or if not now, according to a plan (i.e., on a timetable)? Which, if any, of the congressional resolutions introduced so far on Iraq do you support?

I voted against going to war in Iraq because I believed that we had other ways of dealing with whatever threat Saddam Hussein represented and that an invasion would divert us from the struggle in Afghanistan and the pursuit of Middle East diplomacy. As the country enters the sixth year of war in Iraq, I continue to push for a redeployment of U.S. forces carried out in a responsible manner.  I have also sponsored legislation calling for a robust diplomatic initiative to engage Iraq's leaders, its neighbors and international institutions in an effort to achieve political reconciliation.

While the surge has achieved limited security gains, it has not changed the fundamental political dynamics driving the country's internal conflicts.  The United States must send a clear signal to Iraq's political leaders that our occupation is coming to an end, forcing them to make the compromises necessary to govern and secure their own country.  The President seems content to offer an open-ended commitment of American troops and resources to the Iraq conflict, regardless of the lack of progress toward political reconciliation.  I believe the United States cannot be held hostage to irresolute Iraqi leaders.

7. Evaluate the war in Afghanistan. What troop levels and funding should be allocated to fight that war? What is our goal there, in your view? What should our policy be? What legislation should be introduced to address those issues?

I supported taking military action to depose the Taliban regime, which had brutalized the Afghan population and allowed terrorists to base their operations on Afghan soil and plan attacks on Americans.  Part of my opposition to the Iraq War was based upon my belief that it would distract us from the important tasks of pursuing international terrorists and hinder our efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.  The result of our diversion is that the international effort in Afghanistan is far from complete.

Afghanistan's struggle to establish democracy has enjoyed broad international support, and it is one which our government should continue to actively support.  As Chairman of the House Democracy Assistance Commission, I am actively engaged in efforts to strengthen the Afghan parliament, so that Afghans view it as effective and responsive to their needs.  I have visited the parliament in Kabul and have welcomed its members and staff to Washington. The Afghan parliament provides a glimmer of hope for that country's future.  This remarkable assembly represents every aspect of the Afghan culture, and its members have worked earnestly to approach their differences in a truly democratic fashion, settling disputes through debate rather than violence. 

But the Afghan situation is still threatened by the Taliban who seek to undermine the government through violence.  We cannot allow the country to spiral out of control and back into the hands of the Taliban.  Yet Afghanistan is not Iraq, and the formula for victory is much simpler.  Seven years after our operations began, we need to make good on the President's promise to commit robust resources -- not just in the form of more troops (though a redeployment of some troops from Iraq to Afghanistan is greatly needed), but also in greater development efforts, a smarter anti-narcotic campaign, and support for nascent democratic institutions -- to win the fight and stabilize the nation.  Further, we should combine these efforts with an initiative to persuade our NATO allies to reinvigorate their own commitments, for we will not win this fight alone.

8. What other major foreign policy issues do you see as needing Congress' attention? Rate the importance of those issues and explain what you would do in Congress to address them.

Our nation must confront a litany of foreign policy challenges.  These include: achieving a peaceful, two-state resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; rooting out international terrorist cells; repairing our image in the eyes of the world; supporting the development of democratic governments; confronting major humanitarian challenges in the developing world, such as intractable poverty and widespread (often preventable) disease; responding to the genocide in Darfur; tackling the threat of nuclear proliferation; ensuring peaceful and productive relationships with rising powers India and China; and adequately addressing global climate change.

Effectively addressing such foreign policy challenges will require a dramatic recalibration of our approach to foreign policy and global leadership.  The Bush Administration has relied on a largely unilateral "hard power" approach to international dilemmas and has disengaged from -- or even stood in the way of -- efforts to address many of the challenges that require American leadership to implement an effective solution.  Our government must work in collaboration with the rest of the world on challenges that are truly global in nature.  We cannot solve all of our problems alone.  We should be more supportive of international institutions and more actively engage in diplomacy.  I have worked for years to engage international leaders on issues ranging from the Iraqi refugee crisis, to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to helping legislatures in developing democracies get on their feet.

We must also restore our position as a leader by the force of our moral example, not just by the force of military.  This values-based leadership must include closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, stating clearly that our government will not allow torture by any military or intelligence personnel, and restoring the rights of detainees to challenge their detention in court.  The courts have rightly held that the government cannot indefinitely detain suspects without charging them. Likewise, Congress has passed an unequivocal prohibition of the use of torture, which the President has vetoed (with John McCain's support).  Despite the best efforts of Democrats in Congress, that veto has been sustained.

I will continue to press for a new approach to foreign policy and detainee policies, and will remain an active participant in efforts to strengthen our alliances and promote peace and stability throughout the world.

9. In your view, what are the components of comprehensive immigration reform? What needs to happen in order for this reform to happen under a new administration?

We must take a practical, comprehensive, and humane approach toward fixing our broken immigration system. Although believing that the legislation needed to be improved in some areas, I was disappointed that the Senate's attempt at comprehensive reform failed to move forward last year. As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security since 2007, I am responsible for funding our border security and immigration enforcement efforts and have sought common ground with some piecemeal measures that at least improve parts of the problem. While everyone agrees that we should secure the border a sole focus on the border ignores the root of our illegal immigration problem: the fundamental disconnect between our immigration laws and our labor market demands.

To be truly effective, our immigration policy must simultaneously address border security and employer accountability, create legal avenues for workers to enter the country to meet the legitimate needs of employers, and offer opportunities for adjustment to legal status – on a case by case basis – to those undocumented workers and their families who are already firmly established in our communities. If through such policies we can eliminate the flow of illegal workers crossing our borders, the Department of Homeland Security can focus its resources on terrorist threats.

10. There has been an increase in unemployment, a rise in home foreclosures, a spike in food and fuel prices, a huge federal deficit, and other troubling economic indicators. What do you see as the primary sources of our current economic problems? What measures should Congress use to resolve address them? How would you begin to reduce the federal deficit? What are some of the possible negative consequences of your proposed solutions?

Precipitated by the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, the financial crisis that currently confronts us and our broader economic downturn demonstrate of failure of leadership by the Bush administration. The President sat idly while some brokers were engaged in predatory lending, encouraging consumers to borrow beyond their means, and then those risky mortgages were repackaged and sold to investors as sound investments. The Administration's hands-off, anything-goes approach to regulation meant that no one was policing Wall Street, culminating in the 1929-style credit meltdown we find ourselves facing.

I do not have any interest in "bailing out" Wall Street firms and business leaders who have speculated recklessly and resisted regulation to protect the public interest.  My concern is for Main Street - for the people depending on a sound economy and the availability of credit to buy a house or car, to run their business and meet payroll, and to save for college and retirement.. While I could not support Secretary Paulson's request for a $700 billion blank-check bailout, I joined with others in intensive discussions to rewrite the Administration's plan to purchase mortgage-backed securities and stabilize the markets. Because inaction would only prolong and deepen the crisis, I supported improved legislation that included strict independent oversight, an installment plan with multiple reviews for releasing funds, requirements that taxpayers share any profits and that the financial industry make up any shortfall, a compensation limit for executives of participating institutions, and a partnership between government and financial institutions to help deserving homeowners negotiate reasonable repayment terms and stay in their homes.

The high price of gasoline is posing serious hardships for family budgets and for businesses, and it is now contributing to the rising cost of groceries and other everyday expenses. The increasing global demand for oil is spiking fuel prices, as China and India have continued to develop rapidly. The Administration failed to anticipate this development with a sound energy policy that could prepare our economy for higher fuel prices. Federal policy should aim toward reducing our overall reliance on oil by promoting the use of renewable and other alternative energy technologies and by improving the efficiency of our energy use. I supported Congress's enactment of stricter fuel economy standards last year, and I support moves to reverse tax breaks for oil companies in order to invest in renewable and alternative energy.

Federal budget policies should support working families and a stronger economy. President Bush, with the support of a Republican-controlled Congress, enacted drastic cuts to critical domestic programs, a tax code that disproportionately favors the wealthy, and deficits as far as the eye can see (resulting from tax cuts for the wealthy and the War in Iraq). I believe we should be making targeted long-term investments in education, scientific research, health care, transportation, housing, environmental protection, and other building blocks of our nation's future. We should be simplifying the tax code to ensure that everybody contributes their fair share, while extending tax relief to small businesses and the middle class to promote economic growth. That is why I support the Democratic budget the House enacted this year, which would reflect these priorities while bringing the budget into balance by 2012.

11. What should be done about the growing numbers of Americans without health insurance? What system would most fairly insure all Americans—while keeping in mind the cost?

See question 4.

12. On the environment, do you support a federal moratorium on new coal-fired power plants until clean coal technologies can be developed? Why or why not? And secondly, what legislation should Congress pass to help address the issue of climate change and global warming?

Climate change is the top threat to our environment, and it is one that our government has ignored far too long. In order to effectively and comprehensively address the issue, we should set limits to greenhouse gas emissions across all industry sectors, allowing for market flexibility to attain the overall goals for emissions reductions. Consistent with this approach, I am a cosponsor of the Climate Stewardship Act (H.R. 620), which would establish a market driven cap-and-trade system for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would roll back industry emissions to 2006 levels by 2012 and phase in additional reductions so that U.S. emissions drop to 70 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This would put the U.S. on a path that is consistent with the roughly 80 percent reductions scientists say we need by mid-century to avoid a dangerous climate tipping point.

13. Where do you stand on:

a. The death penalty?

I believe the death penalty should be an option under limited circumstances involving the most heinous acts; yet at the same time it is absolutely essential to address any flaws in the administration of the criminal justice system.  That's why I voted in favor of the Advancing Justice Through DNA Technology Act, which became law in 2004. This legislation is helping to ensure that death row inmates have access to post-conviction testing of DNA evidence that may exonerate them.

b. Abortion rights?

I believe that abortion should remain legal as defined by Roe v. Wade. 

c. Affirmative action?

I have supported affirmative action both as an academic administrator and as a member of Congress.  Every qualified American must have equal access to opportunity in education, business, and employment.  Affirmative action is about fair treatment and opportunities for individuals.  It is also about diversifying the academic community, making education a broadening and enriching experience for everyone, and ensuring that doctors, lawyers, and other leaders are available to serve diverse communities across America.   

d. Gay rights?

I am a strong believer in privacy protection, equal workplace rights, and strong prosecution of hate crimes.  I have cosponsored legislation (ENDA, H.R. 2015) to prohibit employment discrimination for sexual orientation and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to include domestic partners.  I also oppose efforts to restrict marriage or civil union rights through a constitutional amendment. 

e. Retroactive immunity for the telecommunications companies that engaged in domestic surveillance without a warrant?

See question 5

14. With the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, civil liberties—including habeas corpus and privacy rights—have been sharply curbed over the past seven years. Do you think these actions are justified? If so, please be specific in how they've been effective. If not, please explain how you would work in Congress to restore civil liberties, and what, if any, restrictions on them you would propose.

I voted against legislation (H.R. 3199) enacted in 2005 to reauthorize expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act.  Many provisions of the PATRIOT Act simply go too far in enhancing the authority of law enforcement agencies, particularly where electronic surveillance and search warrant requirements are concerned. 

I also believe that the Congress should enact stronger regulations of the Bush Administration's foreign intelligence surveillance activities. That is why I supported H.R. 3773, the FISA Amendments Act, which the House passed on March 14th. That bill would make clear that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is the exclusive legal authority governing executive branch electronic surveillance activities of Americans for the purpose of foreign intelligence collection, and would give the FISA courts the tools and power needed to serve as an appropriate check against executive branch abuses. A FISA Court warrant would be required to monitor the communications of a foreign person (or group of foreign persons) residing abroad that also involve U.S. persons. If any U.S. person is targeted as a result of a FISA investigation, an individual warrant would be required to monitor that person's communications. Under the bill, the FISA Court would be required to monitor compliance with each warrant issued.

In addition, H.R. 3773 would require quarterly audits of the government's compliance with the bill by the Justice Department Inspector General. The bill also would establish a bipartisan Commission on Warrantless Electronic Surveillance Activities, appointed by Congress, to investigate and report to Congress and the public about the Bush Administration's warrantless surveillance activities. The Commission would have access to classified information and would have subpoena power. These audits and the Commission are intended to shine a bight light on past abuses of this Administration and ensure transparency and accountability for future surveillance activities.  

15. Where do you stand on the issue of offshore drilling? What changes do you feel are necessary in the U.S. Energy Policy?

Our dependence on fossil fuels is unsustainable, and it has enormous implications for national security, air quality, and climate change. We need a comprehensive energy policy that allows our country to achieve energy independence through renewable sources, conservation, and efficiency.

Because of increased prices at the pump, some in Congress have called for more drilling. I think that is the wrong approach. Instead, I have supported "use it or lose it" legislation to force oil companies to drill in areas already under lease. These areas hold the vast majority of known oil reserves. I also believe we should renew the moratorium on offshore drilling and recently voted for legislation to do so. I am willing to consider allowing additional drilling only if 1) it is part of a comprehensive energy independence initiative that moves the United States ttoward reliance on renewable sources, 2) it will not have any negative environmental impact, and 3) it gives states a say in what occurs off their coasts.

Again, for the long term, we must recognize that we cannot drill our way out of this problem. Any comprehensive national energy policy must move us toward energy independence through the development of alternative and renewable resources and greater efficiency and conservation. For more information, see Question 10.

16. In your view, what are the components of comprehensive immigration reform? What needs to happen in order for this reform to happen under a new administration?

See Question 9.

17. District 13 candidates only: What is your view of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility, which could be built in Butner? What role does citizen opposition play in your decision whether to support it?

Because my opponent has consistently misrepresented my view and chosen to encourage controversy in the hope of political gain, I feel compelled to take this opportunity to fully explain my position on the proposed NBAF, even though I represent the neighboring Fourth Congressional District.

Due to my role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I must view the proposed facility from two different perspectives. As Chairman it is not appropriate for me to advocate or oppose any specific site. I do have a responsibility, however, to make sure that this critical animal disease research is done somewhere in the country and that it is done safely, wherever the facility may be located. To that end, I included language in the annual DHS funding bill I authored that addressed perhaps the largest safety question about NBAF that the department has yet to answer -- whether research on highly contagious Foot and Mouth Disease can be safely conducted on the mainland. The language in my bill ensures that the NBAF facility cannot be constructed at any of the five proposed locations until DHS conducts a risk analysis and that analysis is confirmed to be legitimate by the Government Accountability Office.

As a local representative, I have said from the beginning that neither I nor anyone else should form a final opinion about the proposed Butner site for the NBAF until the environmental studies were completed, the facts were in, and the relevant questions were answered. All of the questions have not been answered, and I continue to work with DHS make sure stakeholder concerns are addressed. That said, the level of local support for the facility will be one of the most important factors in the Department's decision on where to locate the NBAF. Several local governments have voted to oppose the Butner site, and I expect such opposition to affect the DHS decision.

18. Are there any other issues on which you, as a member of Congress, will focus if elected?

The status of the nation's infrastructure demands far greater federal attention. In the Triangle, we are well aware of the stresses on our congested roadways and the need for better transit alternatives such as bus and rail options. I support stronger federal efforts to rebuild and modernize our nation's roads, bridges, rail lines, levees, and energy grid, and extend high-speed Internet communications to create jobs across America. Infrastructure investments are essential to maintaining and strengthening our global competitiveness and improving our quality of life. And I intend to work on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee to make this a priority.

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