Mike Woodard | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Mike Woodard 

Candidate for N.C. Senate, District 22

Name as it appears on the ballot: Mike Woodard

Full legal name, if different: James Michael Woodard

Date of birth: 2/20/59

Campaign website: mikewoodard.com

Occupation & employer: Administrator, Duke University & Health System

Email: mike@mikewoodard.com

1. Gov. Perdue is proposing a 3/4ths of 1-cent sales tax increase to balance the budget and avoid more cuts to education. Do you support her proposal? A different tax increase? Or no tax increase?

I support the Governor's proposal for a temporary 3/4–cent sales tax increase.

2. Do you support the Racial Justice Act? Is it time for North Carolina to abolish the death penalty?

I support the Racial Justice Act. I support a moratorium on the use of the death penalty until there has been further study on various issues, including disparities in trial juries and their rulings, as well as the processing of evidence by the State Bureau of Investigation.

3. Are you in favor of a Voter ID law? Why or why not? What steps can the state take to increase voter participation in elections? Please explain whether you would support such a law if elected, or how you would amend it.

I am against a Voter ID law. Such laws disenfranchise the elderly, young, poor, naturalized citizens, and highly mobile populations. Voter ID laws also result in lower voter turnouts, especially among minority voters. I would not support any pending or future legislation to establish such laws.

In the 2010 election cycle, 2.6 million North Carolinians cast ballots. The State Board of Elections documented only 21 cases of voting fraud; seven of those cases were absentee ballots, usually attributable to voter error. The Elections Assistance Commission, a federal agency created during the George W. Bush administration, has repeatedly suggested little evidence of voting fraud.

The state can increase voter participation by retaining same-day and "motor voter" registration laws. We can also increase early voting times, rather than limit them.

4. How will you vote on Amendment One, the amendment to ban gay marriages, civil unions and all other domestic partnerships other than the marriage of one man and one woman?

I will vote against Amendment One.

5. 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 strongly support a woman's right to choose to terminate her pregnancy. I would oppose any of the measures listed in the remainder of the question and any other attempts to limit the right to choose.

6. Should the state take additional steps to encourage solar, wind and other renewable energy sources? Should additional nuclear plants in North Carolina be encouraged, discouraged or stopped?

Yes, the State should encourage alternative energy sources.

Given that the state's three current nuclear plants are licensed until the mid-2030s (Brunswick 2: 2034; Brunswick 1: 2036), 2043 (McGuire), and 2046 (Shearon Harris), we will be living with nuclear energy for some time. Two critical issues we must address during the next 20 years are:

Continued effective enforcement of regulations. Congressman Price has raised valid concerns about the water pools at Harris. I favor strong protection regulations to ensure safe operation of these plants.

Will we effectively use this time to develop alternative energy sources? Federal, state, and local governments must begin to actively address the production and use of these sources, especially given the projected growth in the region. I will work to accelerate the development of these sources in an effort to wean ourselves from fossil and nuclear energy sources.

7. What should we do about fracking—extracting natural gas by fracturing rock underground? Do you view it as a technology ready to use in North Carolina? Or one to be studied carefully before any decision about it is made?

It is clear from the reports I've read recently (including a recent report from the City's Environmental Affairs Board, to which I am the liaison) that fracking technology is not ready to be used in Durham or anywhere else in North Carolina. And it likely never will be ready. Even the NC DENR report places many requirements on the use of fracking, some of which will prove to be very difficult to meet. One specific concern I have about the potential of fracking in Durham is the amount of water that such an operation will require; we do not need to both use up and endanger Durham's and the region's water supplies for this endeavor.

If there are any more studies to be done, local and state governments should not tie up valuable resources conducting them.

8. This year, Durham criminal justice leaders announced that together, Durham wants our state statute and juvenile code revised to create harsher penalties for gun-related crimes. If elected, would you file or support a bill that would change assault by pointing a gun from a "Class A1 misdemeanor" to a Class 1 felony? Please explain. What other changes would you support or file to change?

I support harsher penalties for gun crimes. However, the move to a Class 1 felony requires careful study. Many studies have shown that strategies such as mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes and preventive detention have a mixed record of preventing serious crime. We must take a comprehensive look at alternatives to incarceration for certain crimes that may increase the re-entry of some offenders into society and may also help reduce prison spending over time, while at the same time ensuring that serious criminals serve appropriate sentences.

I would support cheaper alternatives to incarceration programs that retrain offenders for the workplace, fight substance abuse, identify barriers to successful re-entry, and allow nonviolent offenders to maintain contact with community support groups and family members. These would include sentencing services, drug treatment courts, and pre-trial programs. We must find a funding scheme for our criminal justice system that produces cost savings in incarceration that can be applied to other more effective programs.

9. The General Assembly's been criticized for years as a place where the majority rules and takes unfair advantage to hold onto power, depriving the other party and the public of due-process rights that are basic to a democracy. Do you agree with that criticism? If so, what reforms would you support to make the legislature run better?

In many cases, this criticism is valid. I would hope the General Assembly could work over the next few years for a process to include both parties in budget and bill-drafting deliberations before committee work begins. Too often these legislative actions are finalized by the majority party before the minority party or the public has an opportunity to even comment. I saw this in action when I lobbied legislators on the current biennial budget and a series of bills that went before the 2011 long session. I don't know what specific reforms could be instituted, given the rules of both houses, but I would be willing to work on a fairer and more open process.

10. 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?

I would need to study the specifics of such a proposal or bill carefully before fully committing, but I support the concept of a more non-partisan approach to redistricting. I know from meeting voters in the new 22nd Senate District that they are very confused about what district they are in and who their new elected officials might be. Lack of information to voters and residents in a district is a pet peeve of mine. Whatever reforms might come must be communicated broadly and clearly.

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