NC Senate candidates: Where they stand on key issues


N.C. State Senate District 37

Jeff Jackson (Democrat)

Age: 35

Education: J.D., UNC-Chapel Hill School of Law

Professional experience: Captain, N.C. Army National Guard; former Assistant District Attorney; currently litigation counsel at Womble Bond Dickinson, LLP

Previous public offices held: None

Family: My wife is Marisa, our two boys are Haden (10) and Owen (3)

Website: jeffjacksonnc.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

I support the governor’s approach: implement extreme risk protection orders, expand background checks for assault-style weapons, ban bump stocks, raise the legal age for purchasing assault-style weapons to 21, and dedicate more resources to school counselors and psychologists.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

See above.

Should CMS be broken up?


What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I’m always happy to work together, but if the leadership of the General Assembly wants to run offense on Mecklenburg for any reason, you can expect to hear about it from me. My two previous jobs were as a solider and a prosecutor. I have no problem standing up to leadership when they’ve earned it.

Nora Trotman (Republican)

Age: 25

Education: Dual B.A. in Political Science and Communication from the University of West Florida

Professional experience: 4 years in Digital Marketing

Previous public offices held: N/A

Family: My parents, Linda and Dan Trotman, have been married more than 25 years and reside in Florida. Linda has served our public school system for more than 35 years and Dan is now retired from telecommunications and volunteers at local schools. I have one younger sister who graduated with honors from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Website: noratrotman.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

I will partner with decision makers to ensure that appropriations are made to address the stress of youth, specifically more guidance counselors and school psychologists are needed in our schools. Deregulation and the reduction of restrictions on these positions will allow us to properly staff our schools and become source of strength for our youth.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?


Should CMS be broken up?


What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I believe that an important part of being an elected official is building relationships with other elected officials. I am committed to providing the representation that all of my constituents deserve and am willing to reach across the aisle to develop solutions to complicated problems. I’ve already begun speaking with members of the Board of County Commissioners about the specific problems Mecklenburg County and District 37 face. An example of this would be assisting our homeless population and reducing the abuse of opioids.

N.C. State District 38

Roderick Davis (Democrat)

Age: 34

Education: Currently attending American Public University working on my B. S. Public Administration

Professional experience: President of The Citizens Protection Committee, Nero Negus, Holy Beverages, The American Royal Family Inc., and a member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee.

Previous public offices held: None

Family: The American Royal Family

Website: www.RoderickDavis.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

School safety is one of my top priorities. I believe to make schools safe we need to add more armed school security officers. Allowing teachers to have guns is an option, but that put’s students in danger of being molested and intimidated.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?


Should CMS be broken up?


What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

Communicate more effectively to Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly.

Joel Ford (Democrat)

Age: 49

Education: North Carolina A&T State University

Professional experience: Executive Healthcare Consultant, small businessman, State Senator

Previous public offices held: State Senator

Family: Married to Deborah Lane Ford with one daughter, Noelle

Website: www.votejoelford.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

I would support the Superintendent’s recommendations to put fencing and reinforced classroom doors to harden our schools. I also agree with local school board members in North Carolina who generally prefer greater investments in mental health, school resource officers and K-12 infrastructure over a military presence in facilities. Also, our schools need more resources for counselors who are trained to identify warning signs and respond appropriately to students who may be a danger to themselves or others.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

There are a number of common sense gun regulations I support. I support the following: - Raising the age for gun purchases to 21 - Assault weapons ban - Ban on high capacity magazines - Strengthen background checks - Better coordination with the federal government and mental health institutions to properly enforce all gun regulations. - I believe a version of a GVRO (Gun Violence Restraining Order) can be enacted where immediate family members or members of law enforcement can petition a judge to keep guns out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves or others. - Increased emphasis on cracking down on straw purchasers would help get some of these weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them.

Should CMS be broken up?

No. Data shows that the creation of a Matthews Charter School System will undoubtedly be whiter & more wealthy than the rest of Mecklenburg County. The outcome of that demographic shift will be a further resegregation of Mecklenburg County public schools to a two tiered system with a suburban, predominantly white school system and inner-city, urban system with much higher levels of poverty than its suburban neighbor.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I will continue to do what I have been doing - standing true to my democratic values and principles while reaching across the aisle to make sure District 38 constituents get the resources we so desperately need.

Mujtaba A. Mohammed (Democrat)

Age: 32

Education: Graduate of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, B.A. History, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Juris Doctor.

Professional experience: Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office, Assistant Public Defender (Current) Council for Children’s Rights, Staff Attorney & Children’s Rights Advocate

Previous public offices held: Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, Former Vice Chair North Carolina Democratic Party, 12th Congressional District Representative on the Council of Review

Family: Spouse - Saba and 2 children (Ayub - 4 y/o & Hamza - 2 y/o)

Website: https://www.mohammednc.com/

What would you do to ensure school safety?

Protecting our students and children in our schools should be a core function of our state government and local partners. Instead of arming teachers with deadly weapons we must arm them with the tools and resources necessary to ensure all our children are safe and successful. Instead, we need to fully fund initiatives to reduce class sizes in not only K-3 but also grades 4-12 and give our educators support in the classroom by restoring and expanding the number of teaching assistants in the classroom. Having the additional support in the classroom and smaller class sizes will help our educators to focus on not only the educational needs of our students but also the social, mental and emotional needs of our students. In addition, right now in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools alone the ratio of social workers to students in 1: 2,957 and school psychologists to students stands at 1: 2,112. We need to increase the number of social workers and psychologists in our schools who in turn provide back-end support to our educators. Our psychologists and social workers also assist with academic needs, improve outcomes and offer an overall safe environment for our students.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

Too many lives have been lost due to continued inaction by our state and federal elected officials. I believe we must and can do more to ensure the safety of our children, families, and community-at-large with respect to guns. As the only attorney in our primary, I believe the 2nd Amendment was written by our founders due to the concern for potential government tyranny and allowed for the right to bear arms and a well-regulated militia. However, times and circumstances have vastly changed since the addition of the 2nd Amendment and we must act now to end the senseless gun violence in America. As your next State Senator, I will support the recent legislation proposed by Senators Jay Chaudhuri and Jeff Jackson to help move the needle in the gun debate. I agree that we must raise the age to purchase an assault weapon to 21, implement a ban on bump stocks and expand universal background checks for the purchase of semi-automatic weapons. We must act now to save lives.

Should CMS be broken up?

I do not believe Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should be broken up. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are already the most racially segregated schools in North Carolina according to a recent report by N.C. Justice Center’s Education and Law Project. In addition, this question comes at a relevant moment when we honor and recognize Linda Brown’s legacy from the 1954 US Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which prohibited racial segregation in our schools. However, even today the struggle continues as we fight against the re-segregation of our public schools. As a public interest attorney, children’s rights advocate, and Assistant Public Defender and advocate of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, I see it every day. Too many of our children are being pushed out of our classrooms and into jail cells and politicians are budgeting for jail cells based on our children’s test scores. I am staunchly against any effort to further segregate our schools by breaking up Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and believe the time is now to do more to reverse course for the sake of all our children’s future. First, we need a state senator that will fight for a strong public education system. That means not subsidizing the return of segregation in our schools by supporting the reckless Republican agenda which has siphoned millions of dollars away from our traditional public schools in favor of charter schools which lack the same accountability and transparency. Moreover, we must immediately stop subsidizing segregation in our schools by defunding the private voucher program which our opponent voted to support in the recent Republican budget. We must restore the cap on charter schools and provide increased accountability to these schools. We also need to repeal the Achievement School District which allows private corporations to take over our public schools and furthers fosters segregation in our school systems. In North Carolina diversity has always been our strength and an inclusive school system is the foundation for ensuring our children are prepared for a global economy.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I am not waiting until I get elected to improve relationships between Mecklenburg County and the North Carolina General Assembly, I am already doing that. Before we set out to improve the relationship with Raleigh, we first need to rebuild our relationships locally and set a legislative agenda that moves the priorities of our city council, county commission, and school board forward. Our state legislators should serve as more than just a mouthpiece, we need innovative thinkers with a bold vision and we need public servants, not politicians who have an intimate understanding of the challenges facing our communities. Our local governments are limited by the state of North Carolina, but the state cannot succeed without Charlotte. In my conversations with members of the school board, county commission, and our city council, I have listened to the frustrations of duly elected members who lack a working relationship with our opponent. I believe that we need to have our house [Meck Co.] in order and set an agenda before we approach the leadership in Raleigh.

Tim Wallis (Democrat)

No response.

Richard Rivette (Republican)

No primary opponent.

N.C. State Senate District 39

Ann Harlan (Democrat)

Age: 59

Education: Masters in Social Work from The University of Michigan and Doctorate in Social Work with a Minor in Sociology from Michigan State University.

Professional experience: I have an Associates degree in business and began my career as a bank teller. I returned to college and earned a Bachelors degree in social work and a Masters degree in social work with mental health training at The University of Michigan Medical Center in adult psychiatry. I worked at Michigan State University in the pediatric sub-specialty clinic as a social worker. I also worked for the school district in the special education Early On program doing home visits with preschool children who were at-risk due to disabilities and their families. I also worked in Maternal and Infant Support Services with low-income families doing home visits. The University networked with a clinic in a low-income neighborhood that saw a high Medicaid, uninsured and homeless population where I was one of the administrators of the program as well as conducted home-visits. When I was in pediatrics I worked as a clinic social worker but also was part of a grant program in which I helped to train Medical Students and Interns on the psycho-social aspects of health care. I also served in a grant program from the Dept. of Education as the Director of the Family Information Exchange to provide information to parents of children with disabilities and that was implemented through the ARC of Michigan.

Previous public offices held: I was the Vice President of Student Government in my senior year of high school and Treasurer of Student Government at Oakland Community College. I’m on my third year of being Treasurer of Precinct 215 in Matthews, NC. I’ve also worked for many campaigns including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Family: I’m a single working mother with 5 children (4 were adopted through the foster care system and have various disabilities). I previously was a foster parent of 10 children.

Website: annharlan.website

What would you do to ensure school safety?

I will work toward Common Sense Gun Laws that include increasing the age to 21 (which is the drinking age), restricting military-style assault weapons, restricting guns to those with mental illness and since the number one predictor of violence is a history of violence, I will work toward restriction on purchasing guns by those with documented violent behaviors. I also will work toward increased funding for police officers and the development and increase in community policing programs that allow officers to maintain a relationship with members of the community to work to better prevent all violence.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

Yes - above.

Should CMS be broken up?

By asking if CMS should be broken up, I assume that you are asking if schools like Matthews should be allowed to be separate districts from the CMS system. No, I do not support breaking up the CMS as this will create many problems. For example, this could easily create financial problems when smaller districts need to operate administrations and separate bus systems. Another example is that it may increase problems with institutional racism as housing can be segregated by income and race and minorities tend to be more concentrated in lower income housing areas which will mean that many students will not have the opportunity to grow up with students who are different from them.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I believe that the General Assembly has struggled with understanding the complexities that Mecklenburg County presents. One important issue is the lack of affordable housing. Families need stability. If a family is homeless due to being unable to find housing and drifts from temporary housing in facilities and with friends and family members, the families cannot grow and the children cannot thrive. Having a stable environment is critical to a child feeling safe. Imagine never knowing if you were going to be sleeping in the same place from one night to the next throughout your childhood. The General Assembly should be putting resources into place to help solve this housing crisis so that Mecklenburg residents can find safe and affordable housing and I will work diligently on this and other critical issues.

Chad Stachowicz (Democrat)

Age: 33

Education: Some College

Professional experience: Founder and CEO of Cloverhound, Inc. Cloverhound is a technology company focused on integrating Cisco Systems collaboration products. We do 2M+ in revenue per year and have 14 employees. The company was founded in mid 2014 and has grown organically.

Previous public offices held: None

Family: Married to Kathryn Stachowicz, Children: Penelope (2 years), Norah (3 months). 3 Hound dogs.

Website: www.chadfornc.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

Let’s face it, we have a gun violence problem in America. Schools were safer when the federal assault weapons ban was in place. We need to look at policies that make sure we keep weapons of war out of the hands of people who shouldn’t be able to purchase any weapon. The first step is a universal background check on any gun purchase.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

I do. I have been recognized as a gun sense candidate by Moms Demand Action. As an immediate first step we need to move to implement universal background checks, raise the age for all firearm purchases to 21 and implement an assault weapons ban at the state level that includes semi-automatic rifles with large magazines.

Should CMS be broken up?

No. For the past three years, our community has been focused on closing the opportunity gap. Breaking up CMS would be the worst step we could take in the wrong direction. Every student should have a fair and equal chance to learn in our schools, and breaking up CMS would further exacerbate racial and socio-economic segregation. We need to figure out ways to get our schools in CMS to collaborate more, not less in order to help close the socio-economic barriers we are seeing in Charlotte.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

The status quo that exists today between Mecklenburg and the General Assembly is unacceptable. Mecklenburg produces nearly a third of the tax revenue for the state and we have needs other counties in the state might not. I would prefer we returned more power to municipalities so they can shape their region to what the people want.

Dan Bishop (Republican)

No response.

Beth Monaghan (Jerri Elizabeth Monaghan) (Republican)

Age: 58

Education: Appalachian State University; Business Administration graduate UNC-Charlotte; Accounting graduate

Professional experience: I started working when I was 16, at the A&P grocery store in Park Road Shopping Center; that was in the late 1970’s. For seven years, I worked at the AP all through high school and college. My first job after I graduated from Appalachian was as a Sales Representative for Nabisco. After a few years, I returned to college to pursue accounting at UNC-Charlotte. My professional background is as a Certified Public Accountant. My CPA career began with PricewaterhouseCoopers, I left there as an Audit Manager and became the Chief Financial Officer of an advertising business in Charlotte. In 1996, I started Monaghan Group; a non-traditional accounting firm comprised of CPA’s. I sold Monaghan Group to CliftonLarsonAllen, a top-ten public accounting firm in mid-2013 and transitioned out of the firm in 2015. Over those 19 years, I grew the business to over 55 people and over $10 million in revenue; and 80% of the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in North Carolina were our clients.

Previous public offices held: None

Family: My husband, Robert Monaghan; we have been married 33 years. He is an Accounting Professor at UNC-Charlotte. My son, Jordan Monaghan; 23 years old. Jordan is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and lives in Washington, DC. He works for a strategic and PR consulting firm.

Website: BethMonaghanForNC.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

It’s imperative that our elected officials at the state, local and federal level work to address the rapidly growing concerns so many of us share over school safety and the need to ensure all children can learn in an environment free from violence of all kind, including gun violence. Effectively addressing this problem will require a multi-faceted approach from the local level on up to the federal government, including reforming school security procedures, mandating inter-agency law enforcement communications on suspected threats, an enhanced commitment of resources to mental health treatment and ensuring that firearms do not get into the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. And in Raleigh, a renewed focus on education is also warranted to ensure that essential resources for our state’s public schools are enhanced and preserved rather than depleted.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

I am a gun owner and support the Second Amendment, and I also believe we must ensure that individuals who should never have access to firearms, such as felons and the mentally ill, cannot purchase them. I support reasonable restrictions on the sale of firearms, such as universal background checks, which 90 percent of Americans support.

Should CMS be broken up?

At a time when there are already too few dollars being effectively spent to educate our children and our state has already witnessed a steep decline in its quality of education, I think it would be a mistake to break up CMS. The time and taxpayer dollars that would be spent breaking up CMS would not only distract from the urgent need to improve education performance and quality, but would also pile on duplicative bureaucratic overhead costs, such as multiple Superintendent salaries. Think of the potential cost impact on our state, if all school districts would split, not just CMS. It’s critical that we invest wisely, robustly and efficiently in our education system and ensure that more of those funds are actually spent on students and teachers rather than on a new web of bureaucracies that we don’t need and can’t afford.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

One of the primary reasons I’m running is to ensure there is a voice in the General Assembly who is there to serve the actual needs, values and interests of our community—which is not something we have right now. For instance, over the past couple of years we’ve seen legislation advance in the General Assembly that caused massive economic damage to Mecklenburg County and North Carolina as whole, driving away billions of dollars in economic investment and countless jobs from the Charlotte area. Our community deserves far better and in Raleigh I would be proud to restore thoughtful leadership to this seat with a focus on core issues like strengthening our economy with pro-growth and pro-business policies, infrastructure development and revitalizing our state’s declining education system. I would avoid the divisive and damaging distractions of the recent past and deliver leadership our community can be proud of.

N.C. State Senate District 40

Joyce Davis Waddell (Democrat)

Age: 74

Education: Bachelor of Science Degree from South Carolina State University; Master of Science Degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Master of Education Degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Master of Arts Degree from Appalachian State University; Doctor of Philosophy Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Professional experience: I have 30 years of experience in education, with 21 years being in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System. I worked as a media specialist, classroom teacher, counselor, staff development coordinator, principal, and curriculum supervisor.

Previous public offices held: In 2009, I was elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, District 3. I was elected again in 2013 but decided to run for Senate to expand my political experience and make a difference in the Charlotte community and state.

Family: I have two adopted daughters. The E. E. Waddell Language Academy was named in honor of my late husband, the noted educator, Dr. E. E. Waddell.

Website: www.joycewaddell.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

In the wake of tragic events that took place in our nation, it is time that we do whatever is necessary to ensure that teachers, staff, and students are safe in schools. According to a state report, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) intercepted 19 guns at school last year at three elementary schools and a selective middle school magnet. North Carolina had 15 school or university shootings since 2013. National standards recommend one school psychologist per 700 students in public schools. The current ratio is one to 2,100 students in the state. We must monitor students who show signs of dysfunctional behavior and mental health disorders. School systems throughout the state should be funded with more allocations for school counselors and psychologists, thus reducing the wide ratio of students being able to seek help and school officials offering early intervention. I support CMS Superintendent Clayton Wilcox’s plan to increase security in our schools by making physical improvements and enhancing surveillance. I also believe that on the state level, we should address gun reform by expanding background checks to buy semi-automatic weapons and raising the age to 21 for the purchase of assault weapons.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

Yes, I support expanding background checks, raising the age for the purchase of assault weapons, and placing a limit on ammo purchases. Gun violence is a critical and preventable public health problem. I support responsible gun ownership and access to quality mental health treatment.

Should CMS be broken up?

I am a member of the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units at the North Carolina General Assembly. The committee has been meeting quite often to study the effects of dividing school districts in our state. CMS serves more than 100,000 students. According to reports received in the meetings, splitting up the CMS school district could lead to legal and constitutional challenges. For instance, in Jefferson County, Alabama, the city of Gardendale wanted to separate from the county system and form its own district. Leaders of the movement argued that black students from outside the city were attending Gardendale’s schools and expressed worries about changes in demographics. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked Gardendale’s request due to racially discriminatory intentions. A desegregation order was placed in Jefferson County against the secession. North Carolina’s school districts are not under desegregation orders, and we should not want to head in that direction. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system does not need to consider returning to an argument ruling from Brown vs. Board of Education, which clearly states, “school segregation is unjust and morally wrong.” I believe that CMS has great opportunities to maximize academic achievement by every student in school. The school district serves a diverse mix of students with various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Professional learning communities, led by area superintendents, were created throughout the school district to increase instructional leadership support and decentralize the school district. If parents or students have issues that cannot be resolved by the teacher or school administrator, they can contact the school’s area learning community. Students are part of the same learning community from kindergarten until graduation from high school. Such stability allows students to achieve at high levels and graduate on time.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

All legislative decisions concerning Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) are made after consulting with the legislative liaison, school board, and local leadership. The legislative liaison visits the North Carolina General Assembly frequently communicating issues that affect CMS. I would continue to meet with Mecklenburg County’s liaisons, lobbyists, business leaders, and constituents on issues that matter and will make a difference in the Charlotte community. I would continue my work in the Senate with other legislators on providing advocacy and resolving issues in Mecklenburg County.

Bobbie Shields (Republican)

Age: 64

Education: NC State - BS Civil Engineering - 1975 Univ. of SC - Master of Engineering - 1981 UNC Charlotte - MBA -1994

Professional experience: Duke Power Company - Design Engineer - (1975-1986) Mecklenburg County - Director of Mecklenburg County Engineering and Building Standards Department (1986-2000) Mecklenburg County - Assistant County Manager - (2000-2013) Mecklenburg County Interim Tax Assessor (2013) Mecklenburg County - Interim County Manager (2013) SHIELB PLLC - Owner/Manager (2015-present)

Previous public offices held: No elected position. Appointed as Interim County Manager for Mecklenburg County Appointed as Interim Tax Assessor for Mecklenburg County Appointed by Governor McCrory to the NC Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors

Family: Wife (Carol), three children (all married), eight grandchildren

Website: votebobbieshields.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

I would support enhanced relationships between schools and the law enforcement community. I would support installation of the most effective school facilities security features.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

I support actions to prevent anyone from illegally using a gun for violent purposes. I support increasing the age and/or maturity level for the purchase of certain firearms.

Should CMS be broken up?

No - not because of its size. There are many organizations larger than CMS that function effectively. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has the responsibility and accountability for addressing the effectiveness of CMS’s leadership and its administration.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

I am motivated to run for the NC Senate in District 40, in part, to help improve that relationship. I would use my knowledge of Mecklenburg County and my relationship with members of the General Assembly (past and present) to help improve the general relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly. I am trained to clearly define problems and to work collaboratively to find solutions.

N.C. State Senate District 41

Natasha Marcus (Democrat)

Age: 48

Education: Hamilton College, B.A. in Public Policy, summa cum laude (1991), Duke University School of Law, J.D. with honors (1994)

Professional experience: Attorney (Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard, LLP ); Judicial Clerk (Judge Frank Bullock, Middle District of North Carolina, Federal District Court); Asst. Development Director, Ada Jenkins Center (2017-present); longtime community volunteer for public schools, animal welfare, the community free health clinic, and voting rights.

Previous public offices held: n/a

Family: I have two daughters. One is in college and the other is a high school senior.

Website: NatashaMarcus.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

Our students and educators deserve a safe environment. As the mother of two daughters who have gone through North Carolina’s public education system, and the daughter of a teacher myself, this issue is personal. I will work with the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to strengthen our gun safety laws as outlined recently by Governor Cooper, including universal background checks on all gun sales with up-to-date databases, a ban on bump stocks, and raising the age to 21 to purchase military-style weapons. I also support the reinstatement of the national assault weapons ban, which worked to decrease gun violence for a decade. Additionally, I’ll work to improve our schools, including more counselors and nurses who can intervene with troubled students before they become dangerous. Further, I will work to expand coverage and affordability of our state’s healthcare system, so that everyone can see a doctor, therapist or psychiatrist, including individuals with mental health issues. Better healthcare will help avoid tragedies like those we’ve seen all too frequently lately. We could afford these improvements if the General Assembly would stop giving huge tax breaks to the wealthiest people and big corporations and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools in the form of vouchers and to for-profit charter companies. I do not support arming teachers or issuing bulletproof backpacks to students. Neither are workable solutions. I also do not support measures that would transform our schools into fortress-like militarized zones. That type of environment is not conducive to learning or to building school community.

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

I support common-sense gun reform, which includes universal background checks on all gun purchases, a ban on bump stocks, an increase in the age to purchase military-style assault weapons, and stronger enforcement of laws already on the books to close loopholes that allow people who should not have guns to obtain them. I support gun violence restraining orders. I also support a reinstatement of the Federal assault weapons ban.

Should CMS be broken up?

As a parent in the northernmost section of CMS, I understand the frustrations of families who live far from the center city and therefore cannot easily access all of CMS’s resources, particularly the magnet schools, and feel that CMS is often a difficult bureaucracy to maneuver. However, there are advantages to being one of the biggest districts in the state. We attract talented leaders and teachers and have the vast shared resources that a large district can provide. While I am willing to listen to the arguments of those who lobby for this outcome, I believe the idea of breaking up CMS has not been well-thought out; the research does not support the notion that smaller districts are better. Moreover, smaller systems would likely be prohibitively costly and would have significant negative consequences, including further racial and socio-economic segregation, fewer options for students who are looking for choices, and the creation of new, smaller bureaucracies that would face the same issues that our CMS School Board and Superintendent are already addressing. I am opposed to the creation of charters run by for-profit companies taking over parts of CMS. Moreover, it would be difficult to determine where any new lines would be drawn, inevitably creating additional fights over student assignment. Our schools are already seriously underfunded and segregated; this idea seems likely to make those problems worse.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

As North Carolina’s most populous and diverse county, Mecklenburg deserves a voice in Raleigh. I believe government works best when all perspectives are respected and included. Since Republicans took control of the NCGA in 2010, they have ignored Democrats’ calls for expanded Medicaid, increased public school funding, and clean-up of the coal ash in the Catawba River and its lakes. Instead, the Raleigh Republicans have used their super-majorities to try to take control of Charlotte’s airport, undercut local efforts to limit billboards, remove municipalities’ ability to make local zoning and housing design decisions, and squash Charlotte’s ability to enact non-discrimination and minimum wage laws as it sees fit to promote its national stature. They have basically refused to allow Democrats, many of whom live in Mecklenburg County, to have a voice in the state legislature. That has to change. When I am in the General Assembly, I will respect all of the voters of Mecklenburg County and the officials who represent them and will be a voice for balance and reason. I believe all of us are better served when we have two parties working together to reach consensus. I will work to improve and strengthen our communities, and limit the General Assembly’s heavy hand in local affairs. I will oppose reckless toll road contracts that give money and public assets away to foreign companies. I will support stronger environmental protection laws that will protect our drinking water, and I will support policies which recognize that Mecklenburg County is a big economic driver for North Carolina.

Jeff Tarte (Republican)

Age: 61

Education: University of Illinois BS Economics Duke University Fuqua School Executive Education Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Executive Education

Professional experience: IBM Sales E&Y Partner ARA CEO Zennergy Co-Owner

Previous public offices held: State Senator 3 terms Mayor Cornelius 3 terms Metropolitan Transit Commission Meck Park & Rec Commission Cornelius Park & Rec Commission CMS School Leadership Team

Family: Nancy Tarte, MD married 38 years Nathan 30, wife Kim Ryan 29, wife Emily Natalie 26, husband Chris

Website: Www.jefftarte.com

What would you do to ensure school safety?

First “ensuring” is not possible if a person is intent on perpetrating a crime when they have no concern for the loss of their own life. Therefore, the better question is, how do we improve school safety? A paragraph answer also does injustice to the question. However from everything I have been reading and my interactions with teachers, law enforcement and health care professionals, we have at least three areas of concern: suicides, mental health and homicidal violence. The logical thought is that each area requires a different approach to prevent and/or minimize it. There is obvious overlap. I cannot address all the details in limited print space, but as to the idea of arming teachers, let me be clear that this is an absolutely horrendous idea. Teachers are not trained or prepared to handle the adrenaline rush while being fired upon—nor are concealed carry permit holders. To improve school safety, I would begin with adding clinical counselors and school nurses in our schools. Give Local Education Agencies (LEAs) the discretion and funding to add School Resource Officers (SROs) who are trained municipal or county law enforcement officers. Since CMS has its own police force, perhaps they should be housed in schools rather than in office buildings. Properly trained retired military and law enforcement professionals certified by a county Sheriff could also be a consideration. If a school wishes to consider having school personnel carry firearms, the Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) program needs to be explored to determine if such a program is viable for North Carolina. FASTER has trained about 1,300 public and private school personnel in 12 states. The program requires training that exceeds the level for state troopers as well as training to provide emergency medical treatment. Any firearms training for in-school personnel must also include negotiation and de-escalation skills, nonlethal control techniques, team response drills, and yes, actual firearms training. The firearms training must be far more than shooting a few dozen rounds at a local range. Shooting in close proximity to other personnel is the most difficult gun skill to learn—it must be trained and drilled until it becomes an engrained skill, if we are going to depend on a staff-based response capability. I would like to research the benefits of supplementing SROs with K9s cross trained for multiple uses, even as therapy dogs. Currently CMS does daily background checks on all employees to see if they were charged with domestic violence, DUI, etc. Schools know who their “frequent flyer” problem students are. As soon as we identify seriously troubled students, they need to be assigned an adult mentor. With the appropriate releases, perhaps these students should be subject to similar daily background checks, including their social media posts. Physical improvements to limit entry points and provide classroom barriers are things to take under consideration with proper due diligence as to practicality and effectiveness. I could keep going...

Do you support additional restrictions on guns or who can buy them?

It is tragic that in everyday life our children worry about potential gun violence. We have a systemic societal illness raging in our culture where suicide is epidemic, kids live in broken homes and bullying is rampant. I do not pretend to have the answer. However, if banning firearms were an effective solution to all of this, Chicago would be the safest city in America, rather than one of the most violent. We need strong programs and laws that restrict the purchase and ownership of guns from people who commit violent and heinous crimes. We need programs and laws that do not inhibit or penalize law abiding citizens from acquiring and keeping firearms whether for personal, recreational or professional reasons. I am open to all ideas that can accomplish both goals, while ensuring the protection of our constitutional and civil rights. The two goals do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Should CMS be broken up?

Maybe, maybe not. Not intending to be evasive, simply there is no clear answer given the information at hand. My three children attended CMS schools from K through 12. The idea has been discussed several times over multiple decades. I do believe this is a decision for the residents of Mecklenburg County to decide, not a few public officials. Breaking up CMS would be a daunting task with many ramifications. As long as “choice” provides realistic alternatives for parents and students, there would need to be a clear value proposition to breaking up CMS.

What would you do to improve the relationship between Mecklenburg County and the General Assembly?

The foundation must be built upon personal relationships and regular communications. Relationships drive attitudes and behavior. Working relationships between individuals need to be purposefully cultivated. Talking regularly improves understanding and conversely minimizes misunderstandings. We need to be thoughtful and pragmatic in expectations. Ordinances and statutes need to be shared and discussed early in their life cycle, so folks collectively have time to understand desired outcomes, minimize unintended consequences and avoid surprises.

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