The November election is coming up, so The Daily Tar Heel is breaking down every state and local office on the ballot from governor to county commissioner. Here we broke down who the candidates are for N.C. House District 50 and 56.
With the 2020 general election approaching, voters in Orange County will be voting for one of two representatives based on their district, both of whom are incumbent Democrats running unopposed.
Graig Meyer, D-Caswell, Orange, representative for N.C. House District 50, has served four terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, before which he worked as a social worker in public schools. Meyer also runs The Equity Collaborative, LLC., a racial equity consulting agency that works with schools and youth-serving organizations.
Verla Insko, D-Orange, representative for N.C. House District 56, has served 12 terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. She previously served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Originally from California, Insko moved to Chapel Hill with her family in 1965 and quickly became involved with the Orange County Democratic Party and local activist groups. Much of Insko’s political work has focused on education and health and human services.
Representatives in the N.C. House of Representatives propose and vote on bills to create or change laws in the state based on the opinions and concerns of the residents of their district.
In one of our surveys, UNC students told us they cared about health care, student debt, civil rights, wages/labor, the environment and LGBTQ rights and policies. Here's where the candidates stand on those issues.
Meyer said his main goal relating to health care is to expand Medicaid, which he said could be done without costing taxpayers any additional money and would help provide health care to over 500,000 North Carolinians as well as create 43,000 jobs.
“It is both the single biggest thing we could do for providing affordable and accessible health care and the single biggest thing we could do to create jobs in North Carolina," Meyer said. "So that's my priority."
Additionally, Meyer hopes to change other health care policies in the state with the aim of increasing the accessibility and affordability of health care.
Insko said she also wants to expand Medicaid, and believes everyone deserves access. She said improved health care can help the state economically as well.
Meyer said because of his previous experience as a public school social worker and, in particular, working with first-generation college students, he is keenly aware of the problem with student debt and hopes to use his time in office to address the student debt crisis and try to lower the cost of education.
Insko said while she hasn’t looked at how to solve problems related to student debt, she believes they are serious and hopes to set up a commission to look at ways to decrease student debt in the state. Insko said she believes student debt is a major issue, especially compared to how low tuition was when she went to school, and that it is not an issue that is discussed enough in the N.C. House.
Meyer said in addition to his work with The Equity Collaborative, he has sponsored or co-sponsored several bills relating to racial justice in North Carolina, with focuses on education, criminal justice and elections.
“I think that we are long overdue to try and create a state policy framework that reduces the impact of systemic racism across all areas of the human experience for North Carolina citizens,” Meyer said.
Insko said she aims to focus on reforms in education about racism, with a specific focus on early childhood education, with the aim of decreasing the inherent racism many people do not realize affects their actions.
“We have come a long way with recognizing our own racial bias,” Insko said, “but we've got a long way to go yet.”
Insko also said while she believes there is a problem with police brutality, she is not in favor of defunding the police and instead aims to give more money to police departments to increase police salaries, as well as sending social workers with police to domestic violence calls.
Wages and labor
Meyer said he was the primary sponsor of a bill to raise the minimum wage that included a provision to continually increase it as the cost of living increases. Meyer also said he wants to make it easier for workers to organize.
“We should be making it easier for workers to organize in North Carolina because worker-organizing has always been one of the most effective mechanisms for increasing wages in the United States,” Meyer said.
Insko said she hopes to change taxes in the state but did not specify how. She said she wants to increase the minimum wage with the goal of making it so that money in North Carolina is concentrated less in the upper class.
“We’ve got lots of problems to solve,” Insko said. “And we need to elect people that are willing to face them.”
The environment and climate change
Meyer said he hopes to focus on the environment by advocating for the expansion of renewable energy, which he says will also help the economy, working on transportation policy and focusing on natural disaster preparedness.
Insko also wants to focus on climate change, and said she supports Gov. Roy Cooper’s climate change platform.
“Climate change is real,” Insko said. “We know that now, and I hope more and more people know that.”
LGBTQ rights and policies
Meyer said he is an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community and has previously sponsored bills designed to fully repeal House Bill 2, as well as ban conversion therapy. Meyer said he would also like to see sexual orientation and gender identity included in the state’s non-discrimination statutes.
Insko said while she believes a lot of progress has been made in terms of the acceptance of LGBTQ people in society, there are still issues that need to be solved, especially when it comes to transgender rights.
Other key issues from Meyer and Insko
Meyer said in addition to the issues already covered, he hopes to expand rural broadband access to help with employment, education and access to health care.
Insko said an additional issue she would like to look into is some form of compulsory military service that could come in addition to registering for Selective Service.
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