Recently, Representative McGrady and other candidates were given the opportunity to provide detailed answers to a series of thoughtful questions from local ABC affiliate WLOS News 13. We reprint them here below.
1. What do you feel are the biggest issues facing North Carolinians, and what will you do to address them?
I have and always will put the needs of the people I represent in Henderson County first. I believe that my experience having served on the Village Council of Flat Rock, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, and in various other leadership and volunteer roles here locally gives me not only a long-time bond to the community, but a special understanding of our area’s needs.
I think that what matters most to us here in Henderson County probably matters to most folks across the state — we want to leave North Carolina a better place for our children and our grandchildren. It certainly does to me.
That means staying the course on policies that help everyone thrive: economically, with good jobs, low taxes, and prudent spending; educationally, by continuing to provide our students and our teachers with whatever they need to succeed; and environmentally, by making sure that we remain good stewards of the earth and our state’s bountiful natural resources. And because I’m privileged to hold a leadership role in the legislature as a full Appropriations Chair, I’ve been in an influential position to address all of these priorities.
North Carolina is in a much better position fiscally speaking today — with lower tax rates for individuals and businesses, a healthy savings reserve, paid-off debt, record low unemployment — than it was before I was first elected. Sensible fiscal policy I have supported has led to more people working, fewer people in poverty, and higher incoming revenue than ever before in our state’s history.
I’ve championed our children and schools by supporting five successive pay raises for teachers, averaging 6.5% annually, and increasing overall education spending by more than $700 million this year alone. There’s more work to be done, of course, but we’ve made significant progress. I am very proud of my record on education, and I remain committed to doing even more.
For my entire time in the House, I’ve been a go-to legislator to whom environmental and conservation leaders come when they need something done or something fixed — probably one of the reasons I was endorsed over my opponent by both the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters and the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club.
Of course, as a former national and state environmental leader, conservation issues have always been important to me. I was instrumental in creating both the DuPont State Recreational Forest and Headwaters State Forest, the state’s newest forest. As Chairman of the Environmental Review Commission, I’m in a unique position to make sure that our state’s air, water, and other natural resources are protected.
All that being said, there are dozens of other accomplishments I’m proud of and issues that are important to me personally, from juvenile justice reform and independent redistricting to insurance coverage for children with autism. Oh, and craft beer. My son told me not to forget that one.
We’ve passed an impressive amount of alcohol-related legislation since I’ve been in the legislature — particularly regarding craft beer, which has resulted in over $2 billion in positive economic impact for our state. As the Chairman of the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Committee in the House, I helped draft the language in the “Brunch Bill” allowing the option for alcohol sales at 10 a.m. on Sundays. And if folks return me to Raleigh, I’m committed breaking the state’s prohibition-era monopoly on alcohol sale and distribution.
2. There is a lot of controversy surrounding the constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot in November — from the language to some saying they amount to “power grabs” by the GOP-controlled General Assembly. What are your thoughts on the amendments?
With all due respect, I must take issue with your characterization. I think most of the so-called “controversy” has been stirred up by partisan interest groups and some in the media. When you look at the proposed amendments, most have bipartisan support.
If you support requiring identification to vote, which 70% of people across the political spectrum do, the proposed “Voter I.D.” amendment is not very controversial.
As for the proposed “Rights of Victims of Crime” amendment, the proposed “Cap on the Income Tax Rate” amendment, and the proposed “Right to Hunt, Fish, and Harvest Wildlife” amendment, one could argue that they need not be included in the text of the state constitution, but it’s hard to make the case that they are controversial. And clearly, many people find one or all of these particular issues personally very important — especially for those who have been the victims of violent crime — and worthy of inclusion in the state constitution.
As far as the proposed “Bipartisan State Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement” amendment goes, I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to hand over control of our elections process to whatever party happens to be in power. That’s the case now. A balanced, eight member bipartisan board might be a better way to make sure that our elections are administered in a fair manner. The same holds for ethics investigations of corrupt public officials. Right now, the system is balanced in favor of those in power.
The proposed amendment for “Selection for Judicial Vacancies” may be the one that upsets people the most; that’s because it would fundamentally change the appointments process.
Right now, if a judge dies or resigns before completing a term, the governor can appoint whomever he or she wants. In the past, as you can imagine, this has resulted in some predictable shenanigans, particularly towards the end of a governor’s term — it’s a vestige of the old patronage system for which North Carolina was infamous.
And while certainly many good judges have been appointed by our governors, reforming the appointments process with a bipartisan board to determine the best candidate based on professional qualifications (while weeding out political cronies or even unqualified hacks who happen to be friends with the governor, both of which has actually happened) doesn’t seem very controversial to me. You might not like it, but it’s really only a “power grab” when it’s your party in power. And that changes — fairly administering elections and adjudicating ethics investigations should not.
And while I don’t find the amendments particularly controversial, one should not assume that means I’m supporting all of them, because I’m not. However, I think each of them is appropriate for voter consideration.
Groups on the right are urging that voters approve all of the amendments, and groups on the left are urging voters to vote against all of them. I hope my constituents will ignore those messages and consider each of them on their own merits.(more…)