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Smith faces Pitt issues in run for N.C House


Michael Abramowitz
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Kandie Smith has been elected four times as District 1 Greenville City Council representative. She lost the 2016 Democratic primary for the N.C. House District 24 seat to Jean Farmer-Butterfield. In 2017, while serving as mayor pro tem, she was unanimously selected by her fellow council members to replace Allen Thomas after he stepped down as Greenville mayor.

“I am accessible, I do my research on the issues and I am passionate about being the voice of the people and not afraid to deal with tough issues,” Smith said. “I am of the people, by the people and for the people.”

If elected, Smith would seek service House committee positions in health and human services, education and joint economic development. Her first legislative pursuit would be to raise teacher pay.

Smith’s positions on issues include:

Health care: Smith would push for Medicaid expansion to increase health care access for working poor and build job opportunities. She also wants to prioritize and improve mental health and drug use recovery services so people don’t use emergency rooms for those care services. 

“North Carolina decided to turn away job opportunities when it chose not to expand Medicaid,” she said. “Expansion would increase health care access, a Democratic priority, and would expand jobs, a Republican priority. Expansion would be a win-win for the state.”

Economic Development and job creation: Smith would work to recruit a major manufacturing company to the district and seek state support fro skills training.

“It all comes down to training people who live here as skilled workers. Greenville has six projects going on right now, all of which need skilled carpenters, brick masons, plumbers and others,” she said. “Not having them drives up the costs of growth and development.”

Education: Smith would work to decrease class sizes and invite elected representatives to serve as teacher aides in public school classrooms. 

“Teachers train our children to be our future leaders, but North Carolina teachers are far behind on the pay scale,” she said. “They’ve had a lot taken from them over the years. We treat them as if they work in a minor profession. I also don’t understand why the legislature would want to take away tenure.”

State law and LGBT rights: “There still are legislative issues that have not been addressed by HB2 or its repeal, and state law remains ambiguous,” she said. “You can’t pick and choose who gets legal protection; how does that provide fairness and equality for all citizens?”

Working across party lines: Smith would invite Republican counterparts to spend time in her district and do the same in theirs, listening and learning each other’s views, then would seek win-win solutions.

“I could support some Republican approaches to job creation, as long as they don’t disenfranchise people in the process or give preferences to the wealthiest and most influential people,” she said. 

Gerrymandering and redistricting: Smith walks neighborhoods to inform voters about the new district map and has a link on her website that shows them where their respective districts are. She wants an independent politically unaffiliated redistricting commission given adequate time to do its work. She also opposes judicial appointment, favoring election of judges.

“As long as humans draw maps, there will be gerrymandering; there never will be a perfect map,” she said.

Crime, public safety and gun violence: Smith supports assault weapons ban except in military; fair and equitable anti-crime policies; reform of sentencing laws to reduce mass incarceration of blacks and minorities; bringing more transparency to criminal justice system; and police body cameras and open access to videos She says new drug laws should be retroactive and will promote reentry programs to give emerging convicts a chance to start over.

“Teachers absolutely should not carry weapons in schools. A teacher provoked to rage should not have access to a gun,” she said.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com or 252-329-9507.