The Daily Tar Heel: What is it like to be the first Indian-American legislator elected?
Jay Chaudhuri: I’m excited about serving in the N.C. General Assembly. My parents immigrated from India more than 50 years ago, and they moved to North Carolina in 1972. One of the things that I believe is true is that the love that my parents have for the state of North Carolina comes from the fact that our state has long had progressive leadership that is, leaders like former Gov. Jim Hunt, that have taught us that it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white or brown or whether you come from the business community, government or university, that we best work together.
DTH: How will you represent your community?
JC: I’d say specifically one of the things that I think is important is that any legislative body have a diverse set of perspectives. And I think that’s why it’s important to have people of all different backgrounds, races, gender or sexual orientation to be in the General Assembly, so we can have a debate about public policy issues that are important to our state with the folks that have different perspectives. Certainly, I believe that I have a unique perspective, and I intend to share those perspectives in order to work on those public policy issues.
DTH: How will you protect funding for Planned Parenthood in the state?
JC: While the votes may not be there in the General Assembly, we know from a number of bills that have been passed by the General Assembly that the courts have held them to be unconstitutional. That will be important for me and other members of the General Assembly that we point out any efforts to go back on a woman’s right to choose as potentially being unconstitutional.
DTH: What is your strategy for Medicaid?
JC: We will work closely with the government to do all that we can to try to accept the Medicaid money whether that is through support of litigation — which we know now that has gone through the court — or by introducing legislation and making sure that the public understands that there are clear choices that are being made by the General Assembly on Medicaid.
DTH: What do you think about the passage of House Bill 2?
JC: I believe that the reason that the repeal ultimately failed is because there is a part of the Republican caucus in both the House and the Senate that has been captured by the far right wing of the party. For anyone that has looked at the votes that were cast when the bill was split in two questions, which was essentially legislative trickery, it was not an attempt by any means to fully repeal House Bill 2.