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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A: Rep. Jeff Jackson talks legislative experience before attorney general primary

Jeff-jackson-Headshot 2 (1).jpeg
Photo courtesy of Tommy Cromie.

The Daily Tar Heel's Sophie Baglioni spoke with N.C. Attorney General candidate Rep. Jeff Jackson, D-N.C. 14th, about his experience and aspirations for the role. His opponents in the Democratic primary are Satana Deberry and Tim Dunn.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: How have your previous experiences prepared you for the challenges of attorney general?

Jeff Jackson: I've been a soldier, a prosecutor and a legislator. My life has been about trying to protect people from harm. That's what a good attorney general does — the job is to be a shield against those who mean you harm, whether it's organized crime, corporations who break the rules or corrupt politicians.

DTH: What are some of your strengths compared with your competition?

JJ: Having served in the state legislature, I think, is going to be particularly helpful. I served for four terms. I was able to get things done by finding some reasonable legislative partners, and then spending many months hashing out compromises that let us build a coalition. It was pretty painstaking work, but that's the only way to have a bill become a law. As attorney general, I would look for opportunities to be a serious legislative partner on criminal justice, mental health, addiction treatment and early childhood education. If the state legislature tried to undermine the rights of voters as they have done before, I would do everything in my power to defend voters from that attempt.

DTH: How do you plan to collaborate with the community and other government agencies?

JJ: I like the idea of being an especially transparent attorney general to let people know what my priorities are, but also how to inform those priorities by being in touch with me directly. I like meeting with constituency groups and stakeholders. It's something I've made a habit of over my time in Congress, but also in the state legislature. Also, when you're representing a state as big as North Carolina — and as regionally diverse — in order to do a good job, you really have to be in different communities in order to get a sense of what the threats are that they are facing.

DTH: What steps would you take to ensure that the attorney general’s office operates with diversity, equity and inclusion in mind?

JJ: Given that the attorney general is the top law enforcement officer for the state, it is especially important that all of our minority communities see themselves represented by that office and feel that our office has their back. That's not a level of trust you can assume, that's a level of trust you have to earn.

DTH: Which legal issues do you see as the most pressing currently and how would you address them as attorney general?

JJ: Both in the state legislature and in Congress, I have heard a lot about what fentanyl is doing to our state. We're losing people every day. First up, I would be focusing on fentanyl. We need to identify the distribution cells operating in our state and break them apart.

We [also] need to strengthen our defenses against the next wave of scammers because they're going to have artificial intelligence that makes them a much bigger threat. We need to establish North Carolina as a very hostile place for those folks, and we need to do that very quickly.

@sophbgli

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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