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Candidate Q&A: Don Davis, Senate District 5

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Senator Don Davis speaks during the annual Legislative Breakfast at the Hilton in Greenville, Thursday morning.

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Following are questions submitted by The Daily Reflector to state Senate District 5 candidate Don Davis and Davis’ responses. District 5 is a countywide race in which all voters may cast ballots on Nov. 6 and in early voting, which is ongoing through Nov. 3.

Age: 47

Town: Greenville

Profession: Educator

Political offices: Snow Hill mayor, state senator

Website: www.votedondavis.com

Social Media: DonDavis@ncsendondavis

Political philosophy: moderate

Party: Democrat

■ Why are you running for the General Assembly and what distinguishes you from your opponent?

Too many politicians in Raleigh are concerned about gaining more and more power. The power plays must end. Power belongs right here at home. Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, I care deeply about our families and our future. I will work to no end to do what I believe is best for eastern North Carolina. My votes will not be controlled by the Raleigh power brokers. My record demonstrates thoughtfulness and the ability to work across the aisle as a champion for eastern North Carolina.

■ What will your top priorities be if you are elected?

I plan to continue fighting for every child in our district because I believe our children deserve health care, a good education, and a decent job when they grow up. I want to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and continue to support East Carolina University as we become a national research institution. I will continue to keep working for a new, state-of-the-art medical school, to keep improving our infrastructure, to keep advocating for a school construction bond, and to keep our rural hospitals stable.

■ There are six constitutional amendments on the ballot. Explain where you stand on each issue.

Marcy’s Law is crucial for protecting victim’s rights, and hunting and fishing is a substantial part of eastern North Carolina’s heritage. I support these amendments. On the other hand, there is already a constitutional cap in place on income taxes of 10 percent. There is no need to lower it to 7 percent because that is why we have elections. There is strong bipartisan opposition to removing the power of the governor to fill judicial vacancies and to moving to a bipartisan board of elections. I concur. The General Assembly has made various attempts to strip the power of Gov. Pat McCrory and now Gov. Roy Cooper, which must end. Our Democracy needs checks and balances. The court has already deemed previous Voter ID legislation as unconstitutional. If this amendment passes, the devil in the details will be adopting a law that does not disenfranchise voters.

■ If the Voter ID amendment is approved, will support a funding increase so the Division of Motor Vehicles can open more offices and hire more staff hired to issue identifications?

No eligible voter should be kept from voting because of barriers. If the Voter ID amendment passes, lawmakers would have to enact legislation implementing the Voter ID requirement. I would support funding the implementation of such policy requirement. During the four-year period that the North Carolina Voter Information Verification Act was effective, the Department of Motor Vehicles issued 4,780 free IDs at the cost of roughly $12,000. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services and 10 county Registrar of Deeds Offices requested reimbursements for the issuance of birth certificates and/or marriage licenses. If necessary, I believe it is essential for us to continue providing our voters with the required assistance to help their votes count.

■ East Carolina University wants to new medical school building. How would you convince other legislators to fund the project?

As a graduate and former faculty member of East Carolina University, I understand the regional significance of East Carolina University. Our greatest success has come with the united efforts of our legislative delegation working with our community leaders. If elected, I plan to file an appropriation bill supporting a new medical school and to increase medical education. I look forward to working with our community leaders. We must continue telling our story. We must also continue to invite and encourage our colleagues to visit us.

■ Hundreds of illegal immigrants live and work in the Pitt County area. They are building homes and families, they go to church and do jobs many other people don’t want to do. Should we allow them to stay? What action will you encourage the legislature take to deal with them?

Across administrations, the federal government has utterly dropped the ball and failed to deliver comprehensive immigration reform. We need comprehensive immigration reform in America sooner than later. I support the Congress passing comprehensive immigration laws that avoid unfunded mandates. Also, I support much of the National Conference of State Legislatures immigration reform policy. North Carolinians will remain challenged until this occurs.

■ David Wheeler of Newtown, Conn., has become an advocate for stricter regulation of assault rifles since his 6-year-old son, Ben, was among 20 children and six teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. He said “The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life – his life ...” How would you respond to a constituent who shared his experience and convictions?

As a Presbyterian minister, I would first extend my condolence to the family for such a loss. There is nothing that justifies taking an innocent life, especially a child’s. With over 290 school shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary, I would convey my strong support for taking action to secure our schools better. I support more surveillance cameras, buzz systems, panic devices, controlled access via a single point of entry, lockdown drills, security audits, school safety plans, etc. I support funding more school resource officers, school psychologists, nurses, and social workers. Also, North Carolina must continue to exam our reciprocity agreements and work to address mental health wellness. Lastly, I am a staunch proponent of integrating student ambassador programs in our schools. Positive school student support is crucial. While the tendency is to focus on what divides us, I believe there is much more common ground.

■ Do you think that the state should allow local authorities to determine for themselves where and how to display Confederate memorials, and do you think it is appropriate for a monument to confederate dead to stand on the grounds of the Pitt County Courthouse?

There are three options regarding controversial monuments in North Carolina — keeping them up, removing them, or relocating them. The last scenario must not be an option — residents just showing up and destroying them. Lawmakers passed a monuments bill (S.L. 2015-170). The law does not authorize local governments to remove or relocate these monuments. They can only be removed or relocated by an action of the North Carolina Historical Commission or a local bill. Currently, our local government is able to conduct public hearings, pass a resolution, and seek support for the passage of a local bill. To date, there has not been such a request. While there has been much attention regarding certain controversial monuments, I am open toward adding new monuments that best add to and capture the history of our state. Above any monument laws, I am most interested in building more inclusive communities.

■ Would you support a law that banned same-sex marriage or required people to use the bathroom that matched the gender on their birth certificate?

Session Law 2017-4 (HB-142) was the HB-2 repeal bill. With HB-142, the General Assembly took the ability of local governments to enact or amend an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations until Dec. 1, 2020. Part of the rationale of the 2020 timeline was the thought that the courts would most likely make a ruling regarding this matter. Although the state has assumed the ability to regulate such public accommodations, I am unaware of plans to move forward with any statewide public policy before pending legal proceedings.

■ Leaders in North Carolina recently established and $15 per hour minimum wage for all state workers. Big corporation such as Amazon and Target recently announced they are committed to a $15 per hour minimum. Would you support a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour. Why or why not?

Understanding that many of our state workers are underpaid, work multiple jobs, and struggle to make ends meet, I was glad to support increasing the minimum wage of state employees to $15 per hour. Unfortunately, some were left out and did not receive this pay increase. We must close this gap. While it is good to see many state employees and certain corporations such as Amazon and Target to make commitments to paying employees a minimum of $15 per hour, we need to reach out to the greater business community. I would support studying the impact of changing the flat rate as well as an adjustment that would automatically increase with the inflation index.

■ Critics say the current process for drawing legislative districts leans too heavily with the party in power and allows the party in power to ignore other points of view rather than compromise? What is your response to such criticism?

Everyone deserves fair representation. Right now, our taxpayers are losing out on this in a mighty way. There have been millions of taxpayer dollars paid to litigate these redistricting court cases. While I like the concept of independent redistricting, I have not seen a strictly “independent” model for redrawing maps. If it is possible to have a purely independent model, I will support it. Otherwise, we must hold our legislators accountable for not going too far in redistricting and our court system for providing the framework for staying within constitutional boundaries. Taxpayers should not be left having to flip these enormous bills.

■ Proponents say that fiscal policies enacted by the current legislature have North Carolina on its strongest financial footing and have contributed to a robust and growing economy. Do you agree? Do you think the legislature should increase spending vs. savings or change its tax structure to address needs in roads and infrastructure, schools, health care and mental health care?

While the current legislature has taken steps that have resulted in a stronger financial footing, I believe there is much work ahead of us. I have championed efforts to jump-start the North Carolina Global TransPark, protect our military installations, and our farmers. I would like to see a school construction bond and to build out broadband internet. It’s time for North Carolina to close the coverage gap. With about 44,000 new jobs and billions of dollars flowing through our economy, there is no greater game changer for us. We must put politics aside, stabilize our hospitals, and help the residents of eastern North Carolina. We cannot afford to wait any longer. North Carolina can be even better.

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