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The Daily Tar Heel

What you need to know about the state Senate race for Orange County

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Incumbent N.C. senator Valerie Foushee (left), Democrat, and N.C. businessman Tom Glendinning, Republican, are the candidates for N.C. State Senate District 23. Photos courtesy of Foushee and Glendinning.

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. State Senate District 23. 

Incumbent N.C. Sen. Valerie Foushee and her opponent, Tom Glendinning, are vying for the seat for District 23 this November.

State senators are responsible for a wide range of issues critical to local government, including budget appropriations, voter ID laws, cannabis legalization, firearm regulations and more. District 23 of North Carolina comprises the areas of Orange and Chatham counties. 

Foushee, a Democrat, has served as the senator for the district since 2013. 

Glendinning, a Republican, is a North Carolina-based businessman whose ventures include the creation and management of recycling and contracting companies in the state.

Glendinning said one of the main reasons he’s running is to prevent gridlock in the Senate and allow Republicans to regain a stronger majority. There are now 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats in the state Senate after the Democrats broke the supermajority in 2018.

“Unfortunately, Democrats are just not willing to work with Republicans,” Glendinning said. “I like to work with people, I always have.”

Foushee said she wants to focus on the issues that have been amplified because of the pandemic. She said these issues include widespread access to broadband internet, unemployment benefits, affordable housing and equitable and affordable education.

“A major part of that will be the budget,” Foushee said. “I’m sure that the budget will include those items that will address where we are as a state as it relates to the coronavirus.”

Here are the candidates’ positions on a few key issues. 

Health care and COVID-19

Foushee said she has worked continually throughout her tenure to expand Medicaid access in North Carolina, and she believes health care is a major issue in the state. She said since the pandemic began, she has drafted two coronavirus-specific bills to expand broadband access to underserved areas in the state.

Glendinning said health care is not a major issue of his campaign, though he said he’s been alarmed by the rising cost of premiums in recent years. He said he believes regulation of health insurance and pharmaceuticals is something best handled at the national level and believes President Donald Trump has done a good job at doing so. 

Glendinning said he believes that statewide legislation to deal with the virus can be excessive and potentially wasteful and believes the state’s emergency funding should be used primarily to provide health care to low-income people.

Wages and labor

Foushee said she believes the state should do more to provide a living wage to its citizens, especially in light of the pandemic. 

Foushee said she supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She said the 2013 reduction of unemployment benefits to lower maximums and shorten windows of time shows how North Carolina underserves its workers. 

Glendinning said he’s for keeping government out of business and is not in favor of raising the minimum wage. He said he worries about increased costs and potentially detrimental effects on the job market in the midst of the pandemic. 

Glendinning said he believes excessive government regulation could stifle the economy and prevent growth that would otherwise provide more jobs and better wages.

Student debt and cost of higher education

Foushee and Glendinning both support working with colleges across the state to reduce the cost of attendance. 

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Foushee said North Carolina should consider making community college free for all residents, as that can lead to more affordable costs at four-year institutions. 

Glendinning said he’s interested in speaking with both universities and lending institutions about the cost of student loans and finding ways to make them more affordable.


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