Ethics and Transparency

There are two principles I believe and follow whenever I am faced with a decision on legislative districts or voting. Voters must have the power to choose their legislators, not the other way around, and one person should have one vote.

When I ran two years ago, I promised to take on the corruption of the Republican party in Raleigh. Since taking office, I proposed the North Carolina Sunshine Act to promote transparency and citizen accessibility to the state legislature, and I have repeatedly voted against gerrymandered congressional, state house, and state senate districts.

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Protect Our Natural Resources

Rhonda and I have lived in the High Country for 29 years and we know what a special place we have in Ashe and Watauga Counties. We are indeed blessed with beautiful landscapes, pristine waters and enviable air quality that have been conserved for us by previous generations.

Some say that we endanger our economy by protecting the environment. In fact, the opposite is true. Our economy depends on a healthy environment. Protecting the quality of land, air and water in our entire state is essential to the future prosperity and health of all North Carolinians from Manteo to Beech Mountain. I will always vote to protect our natural resources and to hold violators accountable for damage whenever and wherever it occurs.

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Improve Education

Education is an issue near and dear to my wife Rhonda and me. Rhonda was an early childhood educator in Watauga and Avery Counties for more than twenty years before becoming a lecturer at Appalachian State. I have been privileged to teach computer science at Appalachian State for 29 years. Before coming to Appalachian State, I taught for ten years at universities across the Southeast.

Budgets are statements of values and morality. If we value something, we fund it. As of now, the Republican Budget sitting in the State Senate does not represent the values of North Carolina. I am proud to have co-sponsor bills that would expand funding and placement for pre-K programs, bringing back master’s degree pay for teachers, and funding our schools to the state constitutionally mandated levels. But more importantly, I will continue to fight for teachers and students to have the same access to the same levels of funding they did pre-recession.

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The arrival of COVID-19 has shed new light on inequities among North Carolinians and the fragility of employer-sponsored health care coverage.

The single worst decision in the NC Legislature over the past 6 years is its failure to expand Medicaid coverage. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians are being denied health insurance while billions of dollars are sent to Washington without any benefit to our own state. We know this is avoidable, but the Republican Party in Raleigh refuses to do what is both moral and prudent for the people of North Carolina.

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Creating an Economy that Works

The economy of the High Country is both diverse and unique. From small business and education, to agriculture and tourism, we have been able to thrive, often times without the help from Raleigh that we see our more urban and suburban communities receive. We know though, that the High Country has untapped potential. On the issues that have always mattered, I have worked hard to represent the 93rd district.

But the most difficult economic issue our district has faced since COVID-19 came has been unemployment. Over the past months my office has fielded hundreds of requests to help constituents apply for unemployment. We have worked as hard as possible to get working families the support they need in these difficult times. While I am proud of the support we were able to offer, the fact remains that the unemployment benefits our state offers are not sufficient.

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