The most distinguishing characteristic of Senate District 46 is its hardworking people. The workforce has always been industrious, whether at furniture factories in Caldwell, textile mills in Burke or nurseries in Avery. We have experienced people willing and able to work. What they need, though are jobs. Great jobs. Jobs that are full time and provide benefits. And jobs that build upon the skills and talents of our local people.
A person with full and meaningful employment is more able to provide a stable home. Communities will prosper as laborers spend with local merchants and attend cultural and sporting events. Those who filled the factories 24 hours a day, virtually every day of the year are proof of what the people here are willing to do. However, they deserve leaders who will make employment a top priority.
That means to provide decent-paying work that also provides dignity, we must:
- Avoid boom-and-bust mono-economies as we have done in the past;
- We must develop educational apprenticeships to create job opportunities that will keep young people in the area;
- We need to work closely with arts/music communities to develop local cottage businesses;
- We can help farmers to develop sustainable, profitable crops such as industrial hemp;
- We can, and must, encourage alternative energy entrepreneurship through incentives and an incubator that would teach how to utilize alternative energies;
- We need to provide a living minimum wage, which would be approximately $12 per hours in Western North Carolina; and,
- Allow workers to bargain collectively and overturn all so-called “right-to-work” legislation.
This also requires that we demonstrate concern for the poor and vulnerable. When employment conditions exist as they do now, with people having to work multiple jobs and corporations not providing benefits to large portions of their employees, it is essential that we have a strong safety net. We must ensure that benefits are adequate to prevent families from losing the basic needs to live.
So. I support a progressive tax structure that demonstrates preferential concern for the poor, minorities, elderly, children and other vulnerable populations. Nearly one-third of the children in our district live in poverty. We must not allow that to stand. Poverty is not just about the federal definition of a certain income level. Rather, poverty is about what a poor family looks like – lacking resources for food, health care, hygiene, transportation, and other hardships which are inconsistent with North Carolina values and puts a strain on the overtaxed middle class. Poverty will only be alleviated by:
- Living wages
- Sufficient social programs
- Diversifying our region’s economy
- Strong support of public education
- Eliminating regressive taxes
Additionally, all people deserve a healthy community, so I will vigorously support public health and strive to protect and preserve the environment.
Finally, all people deserve to exercise their human rights, so, I support the LGBT community and will work tirelessly to protect voting rights.