An issue that has been recently gaining traction both in North Carolina and more so nationwide is legalizing the use of Marijuana both for medicinal and recreational purposes. Every day, more evidence is brought forward showing the efficacy of medical marijuana in the treatment of a wide range of issues. I don’t understand the reason for refusing to allow our medical professionals to fully explore the medicinal uses of this plant. I believe it’s time to allow for the comprehensive research and development of drugs and treatment programs that are derived from marijuana.
Because the federal government has not acted in a forward thinking manner, several states have taken on this project. While I understand and agree with the desire to make this treatment available, I believe that the fact that there is no program in place to regulate the drug properly, allows for the potential danger of improperly formulated drugs.
Instead I recommend the following steps:
- We must immediately remove all the barriers that prevent the research of this plant.
- Through proper research, we can standardize programs for processing medical marijuana into usable forms and dosages.
- Rigorously test its treatment success rates.
- Only through a thorough exploration, can we fully confirm the usefulness of this drug compound.
- Once that process is complete, it can quickly be brought to market
- This will allow everyone who is prescribed the drug to be confident in its safety and effectiveness.
The Federal Government continues to drag its heels in regards to marijuana, and it’s been far too long. Because of this trepidation, the lives of patients are being affected, whether or not they have access to safe forms of marijuana. Instead the Federal Government has chosen to focus on incarcerating individuals on marijuana related charges, filling our prisons with non-violent offenders, and costing tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars. I believe that it is in the best interests of North Carolina, both socially and economically to pursue the steps mentioned above.
Healthcare is one of the biggest issues in any political race, and the North Carolina race is no different. The reason for this is that healthcare affects every single person in North Carolina and the United States. We all see doctors many times in our lives, so naturally every person should be interested in an issue that is not only universal but also quite personal.
It is the personal aspect that shapes my stance on the Affordable Care Act. I believe that it is a moral imperative to make sure that all people have access to quality affordable healthcare.
To make that stance actually become a reality, there are three things we need to address as a nation:
- Cease our political infighting over the need for comprehensive healthcare. We are a world-wide leader in many areas, unfortunately health-care is not one of those. It is time that all politicians understand the universal health care coverage should be considered a right, and not an option. Politicians are elected to represent the needs of their constituents, and every person needs to have access to affordable health care.
- We must work with the states who have not yet fully adopted the Affordable Care Act. North Carolina included. This way we can make sure to cover the unfortunate gap between the individuals who don’t make enough for the subsidies, but too much for the current Medicaid system.
- Make the Affordable Care Act more business-friendly. As the owner of a small business I know how confusing, convoluted, and continually changing the system is. While the content contained within the plan is good, we must work to create a simple and straight-forward process of adoption for businesses of any size.
While the current Affordable Care Act is unwieldy and has its kinks, it is a necessary part of North Carolina and the U.S. taking good care of her people. We need to work hard to both iron out any issues within the current system, as well as to push all states to join in. We cannot stop until all people have access to affordable and quality health care.
My position on reproductive rights is simple: rare, safe and legal; in that order.
For me, that’s the short answer when talking about reproductive rights. But there is so much more to this issue than soundbites like that. To be clear, I firmly believe that there is no room for the government between a woman and her doctor. But let me explain the breadth of my position before one jumps to a conclusion.
The way I see it, any time a woman has an abortion, we have all failed. We have failed to provide comprehensive sex education. We have failed to provide adequate access to contraception. We have failed to protect the woman from rape, sexual abuse, or medical complications that endanger her life. And we have failed to have adequate alternative options for the child. Abortion is the symptom of our failures, and we have to address the underlying issues that lead to abortion, so that we make it a rare occurrence. We have to protect the medical professionals that perform this procedure to make sure that it can be done safely. Finally, and most importantly, we have to protect a woman’s right to choose what is best for her body. Creating and implementing effective strategies to cease these failures are one of my goals in running for the North Carolina House District 13 Seat.
How do we reduce the rate of abortions? Eliminate the need. To do that, we must:
- Expand access to affordable contraception and women’s health programs.
- Provide comprehensive sexual education programs for everyone.
- Strengthen the protections for women suffering under abuse of any kind.
- Expand the adoption system so that any qualified, capable person is able to adopt and provide a loving home for these children.
- Mandate that access to adoption is available to all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, and that their parental rights are legally recognized.
We can work together to solve the real issues that lead to the need for abortion procedures, and when we do, we will see the rate reduced. Then we can truly have them be rare, safe and legal. However, the decision for abortion needs to remain a decision for the woman and her doctor only. I dream of a time when we can all focus on eliminating the need, instead of arguing about the outcome. When we work together, WE CAN’T FAIL.
One important issue that is far too often neglected by political candidates from Democrat and Republican parties is incarceration rates. In North Carolina alone over $1,000,000,000 is spent annually on just housing, feeding, and keeping its prison population. I think we should focus on reducing the incarceration rates, first in North Carolina and then throughout the rest of United States.
Through my work, I have seen the good citizens and workers that so many ex-offenders have become. What most people in trouble need is help, treatment, and aid; not incarceration.
In order to reduce the number of incarcerated Americans and boost the economy with a greater workforce, we must:
- Removing Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines. Sentencing should be based upon proportionality of the crime as well as utilizing the sentence to promote social justice in the individual and community.
- Creating Transition Programs. Such as job skills training programs in conjunction with state and federal departments.
- Expand Drug Treatment Programs. This is important because we need to realize that incarceration is not a treatment for addiction.
- Reclassify Marijuana. In 23 states doctors can prescribe medical marijuana to patients,but cannot legally study how it would affect their illnesses. We need to authorize the CDC to study medical marijuana and potential for decriminalizing marijuana completely.
- Change Employment Screening Guidelines. It is necessary to change background checks for employment and potential discrimination and liability. Work to join over a dozen other states who have approved “ban the box” policies that forbid employers from asking applicants about criminal backgrounds
There is no excuse for why the United States has 5% of the world’s population but 22% of the world’s prison population. That is unacceptable. It is about time that America and her government begins to aid all of the citizens of this great nation, which includes helping those stuck in the vicious incarceration cycle of bad policies and procedures.
Through the steps outlined above we get begin to get back to more civilized and understandable incarceration rates, and rid ourselves of the gross injustice and failed policies that are in place now.
When asked: ‘Should we raise the minimum wage?’ My answer is the minimum wage should be higher to reflect more of a livable wage. A livable wage reflects the minimum income needed for a worker to meet their basic needs in their community without public assistance and is integral to the survival of individual families. Also, the economic activity that derives from employees earning a livable wage is a primary generator of the overall economic growth of the nation.
Minimum Wage vs. Livable Wage
The current minimum wage across my State of North Carolina is $7.25 per hour. Using a livable wage calculator, it is easy to see how difficult it is to live on minimum wage across the United States. The livable wage of Durham County, where I proudly live and work, is:
- 1 Adult livable wage = $10.68 per hour
- 1 Adult with 1 child livable wage = $22.31 per hour
- 2 Adults 1 Working with 1 child livable wage = $21.14
It is my strong belief in the livable wage concept that led me to join the Durham Living Wage Project, not only as a founding company member, but also in service as a steering committee member for the organization. Through my work with the Durham Living Wage Project, I have seen the following benefits of a living wage:
- Employers who pay a living wage see lower turnover, a more motivated workforce and increased goodwill of the community
- Employees who receive a living wage have the chance to now move from poverty towards meeting the basic needs of their family
- Low-wage earners typically spend their money locally, when they make more they are able to support local business, which creates more jobs and strengthens a community
I believe everyone who works hard deserves to earn a livable wage.
The Black Lives Matter movement has accomplished a lot in starting to call attention to the systemic, societal problems that exist today in Maryland, Missouri, as well as in North Carolina and every other state in America. We must continue to press back against the ingrained treatment of different groups unequally and unjustly.
Prejudice inhabits many areas that need to be addressed:
- Equal Opportunity
- Incarceration Rates
- And many more
Through these different forms not only are stereotypes perpetuated but the growth of the individual is stunted. In my time living and working in North Carolina, I have done my best to pursue the destruction of these stereotypes and unjust treatment; the Durham Living Wage Project providing awareness and adoption living wages to people throughout North Carolina, despite race or stereotype. Also, I have partnered with StepUp ministries to aid homeless and ex-offenders in gaining valuable job-search and work experience, as well as various beneficial programs within AVANT Staffing.
All in all, I believe that the Black Lives Matter movement has pushed this weighty issue to the forefront of the American’s minds and it is not something that can be or should be ignored. I want our representatives to work to pursue equality, justice, and practical aid for all individuals.
Let me begin by saying that I am not just another career politician who sees running for office as the family business. Instead the knowledge, skills, and passions that lead me to my race have been cultivated through my lifetime of growing up, living, and working in the great state of North Carolina.
Many people have asked what issues made me decide to run for office, and how my approach to these political issues would be any different. To begin, there are a myriad of important issues facing North Carolina and the United States.
The following three issues relate to the vast majority of individuals and communities in North Carolina:
- Equality of individuals, education, opportunity.
- Economic uncertainty exacerbated by non-functioning government.
- Stratification/grouping of people focused on the individual instead of the whole.
It is quite easy to identify the problems, it is a whole other thing to be able to structure a plan that addresses them and begins to create a solution.
A plan to address these key North Carolina issues should include:
- Quality education that is readily available to all. Meaning it is no longer based on social strata, geographic location, or economic level. Education must also empower the individual with tools to be successful in the community and marketplace. This creates a fertile ground for confidence, respect, hope, and a society that can move forward together.
- Addressing the governmental failings.Key failings include a lack of transparency and individuals focused on grandstanding, politicking and getting reelected. Above all the politicians who have been making the government work for them instead of making it work for all of the people they represent.
- Reestablishing the belief in America and her government that all people are valuable. We are still the great melting pot of the world, made more flavorful by the variety of cultures and people that become a part of our world. So the government must understand that all people are valued and the rights we hold dear are true for everyone. I believe that North Carolina can be a leader for many other states in this regard.
It is time to take action and take back the government for the people of this great land. We must work together to rebuild America’s rich tradition of accepting and growing all ideas, people, and dreams.