Mecklenburg County

N.C. Senate Candidates

Jeff Jackson (D – Incumbent) – State Senate District 37

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

You look for someone with the experience and ideas to deliver more accessible, more affordable, and higher quality education for students. Any candidate must have a nonpartisan vision of what needs to get done and it’s essential that we ensure the Board of Governors actually represents the students it works for. There is a chasm of a disconnect between the BOG and the people it serves right now that stems from blatant partisanship and a lack of accountability. We have to fix it. 

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system? 

First, we must make it clear: a racial equity agenda is good for all North Carolinians. We’re building a working families agenda with a focus on addressing underlying, systemic racial inequities. A non-exhaustive list would start with affordable housing, child care, education, health care, increasing wages, and criminal justice reform – issues that affect all of us but that have persistent, unacceptable racial disparities. 

We also have to end voter suppression at all levels – especially gerrymandering which was designed to limit the power of Black voters to pick their representatives.

The two biggest levers that the state legislature oversees are funding and appointment of the Board of Governors. Across the UNC system, we have to make sure we’re funding at levels that don’t ever let cost be the reason someone can’t attend school. And we have to follow the lead of Congresswoman Adams and her historic FUTURE Act and fund and support HBCUs at the state level. At the Board of Governors, we must appoint candidates who are representative of the student body and have concrete plans on addressing racial inequities in the UNC system.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina? 

The UNC system is the foundation for our entire state and its success has driven our growth. The Board of Governors has made it into a partisan football and seemingly forgotten about putting our students first. We must return to a nonpartisan, professional board that focuses on its mission of providing affordable, high-quality education and a state legislature that continues to lower the cost of tuition.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

At the state level, no plan to create a more effective, more affordable health care system should be taken seriously without starting with expanding Medicaid. 

Medicaid expansion would expand coverage to 500,000 people, create 40,000 jobs, bring $4 billion into our economy each year, and save roughly 1,000 lives every year. It’s also the single most powerful weapon to combat the opioid epidemic and would lower premiums for everyone by reducing uncompensated medical care.

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

With zoning reforms and key housing investments, we can make a huge difference. Right now, Charlotte’s Housing Trust Fund is larger than the state of North Carolina’s Housing Trust Fund. That is just a glimpse of how the state has dropped the ball when it comes to affordable housing. We’ve got to reinvest in affordable housing as a state and incentivize cities to make the right zoning reforms.

Mujtaba Mohammed (D – Incumbent) – State Senate District 38

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

It is always my intention to support a candidate for the Board of Governors who believes in the promise of our students and our state. Specifically, our duty to make our system as affordable as possible in compliance with our laws and constitution. 

It would be an honor to vote for a Board of Governor’s member who attended a UNC System School, is from North Carolina, and someone who actually cares about our universities and the health of the system and not just the access, influence, and power. 

I’m looking for someone who has led a team and a candidate who understands the need for diversity and inclusion of thought, policy, and staff. 

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system? 

Great question. I am a public interest attorney and at my core, a people’s advocate. I believe in fighting for those who battle systems seen and unseen on a daily basis. To racial equity specifically, we need to look at our justice system, reform cash bail, and expand the rights of those detained and arrested in North Carolina. We also need to reform how we police in North Carolina and while I believe the “8 Can’t Wait” is a great starting place, no one should be satisfied with that initiative as a standalone. 

Inside of the UNC System, I believe each campus should have a Diversity and Inclusion Officer, not just as an employee but at the Vice-Chancellor level, with the power, authority, and staff that comes with it. 

Diversity is our greatest strength and our schools serve as fertile ground for the next generation of leaders including those who return for professional programs and they deserve our very best.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina? 

I believe we need to take a deep look at the outcomes of our academic programs and how we can scale successful programs across campuses, with an eye towards Distance Learning, with ECU having one of the most well-known distance education programs in the state. Distance Learning allows parents to continue working full-time or students to pick up an extra job or two, just like I did when I attended UNC Charlotte. 

Most importantly, it makes our schools more competitive and accessible nationally. I also believe the state should pass a law requiring the formation of a Master Plan from each UNC School every ten years unless they receive a waiver from the General Assembly and finally I believe the state and our partners should revisit what a medical school could look like in Charlotte. As I speak to students they feel more like cash-cows than an investment in their future and the future of our state and country. I would like North Carolina to step it up, restore the original cuts made to our schools both during the recession and after to further reduce costs for our scholars. 

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

An effective Healthcare system is one in which everyone who needs access to care, can receive it without declaring bankruptcy two months later, or delaying a meal or a utility bill later that day. I also believe we need to look into our Certificate of Need laws which reduce competition and increase pricing. 

I’m proud to be one of the first State Senators to co-sponsor Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina to provide health coverage to almost 600,000 North Carolinians. Unfortunately, Leadership in the North Carolina General Assembly is too busy putting politics before people and refusing to expand Medicaid. 

North Carolina needs to expand Medicaid and strengthen our high-risk pool. The next step for me would be to pass transparency laws on prescription drugs in North Carolina and work to expand access to mental health services in North Carolina. 

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

The housing crisis is multifaceted. We need to secure more funding for the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund, expand eligibility for the Homestead Tax Exemption, provide more down-payment assistance to our working families and expand our housing stock, not to mention mandatory inclusion are zoning. We also need to understand that while we have conscious builders in our state, they are in business to make a profit, understanding that certain AMI restrictions also limit their margins. We need to use our tax code as a tool to incentivize builders who believe in providing safe affordable housing where families can grow, live, work, and play. At the same time, we need to take a real look at financial literacy and its impact on generational wealth and poverty. We can also address the rise in homeless by increasing our minimum wage to a living wage, right now families cannot sustain multiple jobs, a pandemic, and distance learning for their children. There are also case studies around the country where municipalities created wrap-around services to meet all of their resident’s needs, like transportation, daycare centers, mental health counselors, literacy coaches, and after school programming. The system is broken and we need to take these steps and more to fix the system for the people, not the richest select few. 

Bobbie Shields (R) – State Senate District 40

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

A Board of Governors candidate must have a vision for higher education in North Carolina and a plan to move the system toward that vision. Serving on the Board must be for a better reason than membership status. Candidates must have demonstrated reliability and an understanding of global educational needs.

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system

Racism in North Carolina and in the UNC system must be recognized and rejected. Diversity must be recognized and appreciated. Equality can be best achieved through providing equal opportunity and a pathway to overcome disadvantages that might have come from prior social-economic conditions. The place to start is the pre-kindergarten years with a focus on individual achievement needs.

3. What is your long-term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

The UNC system must be reliable for providing a workforce that meets the needs of industries. My long-term plan includes better use of virtual learning and social media. The current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we must be prepared to live, work and interact differently. My long-term plan also includes a closer look at capital investments and a process to determine whether capital dollars are allocated appropriately. I believe it is time to view higher education as a necessity that should be treated more like the way we treat secondary education. That might mean reconsidering the mechanisms for funding college education. Finally, my plan includes an aggressive process for obtaining the best faculty expertise. With technological advances, that expertise does not have to be resident.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

An effective healthcare system would be one that does not have health disparities because of the inability to pay. The best measure would be life-expectancy.

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

There is a housing crisis in Charlotte because housing is unaffordable for many households. The best way to combat the crisis is to determine the root causes and make necessary adjustments. I believe the root causes include the inefficient use of existing housing stock and heavy reliance on real property taxes. There should be encouragement toward denser living arrangements (even within “single” family dwellings) and efforts to lessen the tax burden associated with home ownership.

Natasha Marcus (D – Incumbent) – State Senate District 41

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

The Board of Governors should be constituted of a diverse group of North Carolinians who reflect the people of North Carolina and who are dedicated to the goal of restoring the UNC System to the position it once held prior to the politicization of the BOG. They should not be people with a partisan approach or a history of extreme political activism. They should not be people who gain access to the BOG solely by their political friendships or contributions.  They should be knowledgeable about the issues facing institutions of higher learning, low-income students, the challenges faced by UNC professors, and public higher education funding. Members should be concerned about all 17 campuses under their review.

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system?

Better funding for NC public education at the Pre-K and K-12 will provide more equal opportunities for students of color and first-generation students to be prepared for college.  We should be able to recruit and retain top-quality teachers and support staff who are diverse and dedicated to student success. We should fully reinstate the Teaching Fellows Program. 

I also support programs that support these students once they get to matriculate, to coach them through the challenges and ensure their success in college. University hiring and admission policies should also value diversity, so that students of color have teachers throughout their years in school who look like them.  Studies show that Black teachers are good for Black students, and all other students too.

Outside of these education policies, I support police reform and criminal justice reforms, to address the systemic racial bias that exists, such as the 8 Can’t Wait Recommendations and reinstating the Racial Justice Act.  I also support the Second Chance Act and the First Step Act.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

The NCGA should not attempt to micromanage the UNC System or dictate curriculum. We should fully fund public education, so that UNC schools can attract top-quality educators and students and provide a top-notch education to our next generation.  We may need to rethink the way we elect Board of Governors members, since it has created a hyper-partisan atmosphere that is not good for the UNC system. North Carolina is unusual in that our higher education governing body is entirely elected by the state legislature.  We may need to change this to ensure that the BOG reflects the will of the people of North Carolina, instead of just the will of the leaders in the NCGA.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

One that covers everyone with affordable health insurance, so that no one is denied healthcare and no one is forced to file for bankruptcy due to an illness. When people have coverage, they get preventative care and are healthier overall.  An effective system will include Medicaid Expansion, which most other states have done. Medicaid expansion will not increase our taxes, would be a major boost to our economy, and would reduce everyone’s healthcare costs by dramatically increasing the number of people who are covered.  

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

Affordable housing is a need not just in Charlotte, but also in the suburbs that I represent. While it’s an issue mostly in the domain of local governments, not the NCGA, I support funding the incentives the state has in place to developers to build new units — the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund and the Workforce Housing Loan Program — which provide public and private funds to support affordable housing and which have been severely underfunded under GOP control. I have also introduced legislation to help fund the preservation of existing affordable housing in my district. Gentrification is robbing communities of their affordable homes and forcing residents to find less-desirable alternatives.

We also need to address the lack of fair wages.  North Carolina has not raised the minimum wage in 12 years and it’s way too low.  Housing costs have gone way up, but wages are stagnant.  We need to increase the minimum wage to empower working families to be able to increase their earnings, so they can afford housing and the basics they need. 

N.C. House Candidates

Nasif Majeed (D – Incumbent) – State House District 99

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

A Board of Governors candidate should have a good understanding the following:

  1. Bylaws and policies of the UNC system.
  2. General knowledge of strategic planning.
  3. Knowledge of parliamentary procedures.
  4. Understand how to read a balance sheet.
  5. Universal moral principles.

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system?

Firstly, I plan to promote racial equality by my example.  I would like for everyone on the UNC Board of Governors to be exposed to Diversity Training.  I will sponsor House Bills that promote Equal Pay for Equal Work, Living Wages, Paid Medical Leave and Hate Crime Prevention legislation.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

My long term plans for the UNC system and higher education is to change the Membership of the UNC Board and integrate it with more educationally progressive leadership.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

An effective healthcare system is one that encompasses the addition of five hundred thousand more North Carolinians in an expanded Medicaid assistance program.

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

I cosponsored House Bill 1200 that will provide $200 million dollars in funding to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.  This grant program will assist individuals facing foreclosure or evictions and help those who need assistance making utility payments due to financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the NC House Republican majority is halting the passage of this bill by stalling it in committee.

Russell Rowe (R) – State House District 99

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

A candidate who cannot be bought is the best quality.

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system?

Always hire the best candidates.  Race has nothing to do with the quality of candidates.  The applications need to come from a wide variety of races in order for there to be racial equality.  If the applications do not represent a wide variety of races, it is not the fault of the UNC System.  This is something that should not be legislated.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

I do not have a long term plan for the UNC System nor for higher education in NC.  It is something I need to study.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

An effective healthcare system is one that does not over count COVID-19 patients for extra money, is always transparent, is not funded by the government, lowers prices in order to have patients pick and choose where to be seen when the situation allows for such as elective surgery.

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

I am unaware of what the housing crisis in Charlotte actually is.  I need to study this prior to speaking about it.

John Autry (D – Incumbent) – State House District 100

  • Autry believes in raising the minimum wage for workers
  • He believes in Medicaid expansion

Kalle Thompson (R) – State House District 100

  • Thompson believes expanding Medicaid to every citizen would raise taxes to unsustainable levels. She supports insurance deregulation and will oppose legislation that seeks to make medical treatments or procedures mandatory. 
  • Thompson believes in supporting charter schools, specialized magnet schools and private school vouchers, in addition to ensuring public schools receive funding. 
  • She believes in deregulation and lower taxes to support businesses in North Carolina

Carolyn Logan (D – Incumbent) – State House District 101

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?  

Fairness and diversity. 

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system?

My plan will be to change the status quo. To look for qualified candidates in women, women of color, men of color, and not just of a particular party. 

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

To make sure that The UNC System and higher education is accessible for all, it should be easier for our North Carolina students to get into. 

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

Affordable healthcare for all, so that the citizens of North Carolina can receive proper medical attention when they need care, to be able to pick up the necessary medication as it is prescribed by their physicians and not have to make a choice between food or medications. 

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte? 

Work with Charlotte government officials and our State Housing Finance Agency to work on how many affordable housing sites we can establish in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region and then see how we can contribute to help families now with rent and utilities.  

Wesley Harris (D – Incumbent) – State House District 105

1. What qualities do you look for in a Board of Governors candidate?

I want a Board of Governors candidate that has a history of understanding how our University system works.  This means they have a philosophy of not bringing any politics when dealing with the workings of academic departments.  The credibility of our academic departments relies on an atmosphere that is free from outside pressures that may sully academic findings.  In the past few years we have seen this as a problem in the UNC system and it is limiting our ability to recruit and retain the best professors which ultimately will cause the entire university system to suffer.  Our UNC Board of Governors need to be focused on one thing, doing whatever they can to invest in and grow our UNC system.

2. How do you plan to promote racial equality in North Carolina and in the UNC system?

Racial equity in the UNC System begins with making sure that our student bodies are reflective of the demographics we see in our state.  This means that on the state level we should be investing in the public education system of all our communities so that every student has the opportunity to attend one of our public universities in the state.  We also should focus on making our faculty and staff in our universities more representative of the state as a whole so that everyone feels welcome when attending a public university in our state.

3. What’s your long term plan for the UNC system and higher education in North Carolina?

The UNC system is the largest economic driver in our entire state, and it should be treated as such.  My vision for the UNC System is that it will be the engine that allows our state to home grow its talent and place North Carolina on the cutting edge of innovation and technology.  We should make sure that our key research universities have the resources and support from the State to attract the best talent so we can train the best students and prepare them for a career in North Carolina.  Top research and top students will bring jobs and opportunities to North Carolina and it is simply put, an investment we cannot ignore.

4. What does an effective healthcare system look like to you?

An effective healthcare system is one where everyone has access to the necessary preventative care and routine check-ups to keep us healthy in the most cost-effective manner.  It also means that we have the resources and expertise to treat any disease or health emergency that may occur.  Healthcare in the US is the most expensive in the entire world, and a large driver of this is our focus on reactive, rather than preventative care.  This can be addressed by ensuring everyone has access to affordable health insurance so they have access to preventative care which will reduce both the need and cost of more expensive reactive care in the future.  Much of the high cost we spent now is paying for the uncompensated care that is given to uninsured individuals who come into the emergency room after an unchecked minor medical issue becomes something much more serious.

5. How do you plan to combat the housing crisis in Charlotte?

Combatting the housing crisis in Charlotte is critical because the availability of affordable and stable housing is vital for the health and economic well-being of our families.  To help combat this, we must assist the city in funding the affordable housing trust fund and take a real look at our zoning policies around the city.  This can help both increase the stock and availability of affordable housing.  Additionally, we need to improve the transportation infrastructure in our region.  Our current system makes it exceedingly difficult to get to certain parts of the city and as a result it causes the areas that do have access to efficient transportation skyrocket in value.  By investing in connecting more of our city to the centers of economic opportunity, we can help limit the pressure driving up our housing process.  Finally, it all comes back to education.  Quality schools drive up property values and the geographic concentration of quality schools limit those who have access.  By making sure there is a quality, well-funded school in every part of our city, we can further limit some of the pressures driving up housing prices in Charlotte.

Mecklenburg County