Our current healthcare system fails to serve all Americans adequately. Nobody should ever have to sacrifice their health in order to pay the bills, yet too many folks in western North Carolina do. With the GOP threatening the Affordable Care Act and protections for pre-existing conditions, our number one priority needs to be strengthening the law to include more Americans who continue to struggle with high costs and a lack of options. I believe we should create a public option system, ensuring that millions more Americans have access to affordable care. I will also defend policies that protect a woman’s right to make her own medical, health, and reproductive decisions. Additionally, I support lowering the age to qualify for Medicare to 55 as well as expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Finally, we need to do all we can to control the costs of prescription drugs by allowing medicare to negotiate drug prices as well as making the process by which the government purchases prescription drugs more transparent.
Jobs & the Economy
With the incredible population growth western North Carolina has experienced over the past decade, it’s clear to all that this is a place where people want to live and raise their families. But the reality for far too many is the inability to make ends meet with flat wages and increased housing and living costs. We need to ensure that NC-11 remains a place that’s both business and worker friendly so our local economy can continue to thrive without leaving anyone behind. This includes a commitment to a living wage, increased funding for job training programs, ensuring affordable housing options, and doubling down on smart government programs such as Opportunity Zones. Finally, I’d put special emphasis on environmentally sustainable development to ensure we’re protecting the precious natural resources that attract hundreds of thousands of people and even more tourism dollars to western North Carolina each year.
America is built on the values of freedom, democracy, and opportunity for all. Immigration lies at the heart of those values, yet politicians continually use it to sow fear and incite resentment. It’s high time we cut through the noise and the red tape to make meaningful and practical reforms to the system that will serve both our economy and national interests. That includes increasing the number of judges trying immigration cases, increasing the number of capable public defenders representing asylum seekers, and ensuring those pursuing student or work visas have access. This also includes an honest commitment to protecting our country from those that shouldn’t be here, such as individuals with criminal records. By putting America’s national interest at the heart of our immigration system, we will be able to live our values while remaining competitive and secure in the world.
Every person has a right to defend themselves and pursue a tradition of hunting and sportsmanship that so many in the mountains of western North Carolina grew up enjoying. I myself am a licensed North Carolina gun owner. That said, weapons of war do not belong on American streets, or in American classrooms. I believe in common-sense gun laws that will keep our communities safe. This includes universal background checks and red flag laws that keep weapons out of the hands of individuals that present either a danger to themselves or others. This commitment to preventing gun violence should also include an increased commitment to funding for mental health services. Whether it be the nearly 20 veterans who take their life each day or the tragedy of accidental shootings, we can curb gun violence across the country so long as we meet this challenge with the urgency it deserves.
By now, we’ve all seen the effects of climate change firsthand. From my time in the Caribbean witnessing the degradation of our coral reefs to seeing my neighbors suffer catastrophic damage from storms here in western North Carolina, it’s high time we take the climate crisis seriously. From investing in renewable energy to upgrading our infrastructure to become modern, resilient, and energy-efficient, we have the opportunity to create millions of good-paying American jobs along the way. As the climate warms and weather patterns become more intense and erratic, we owe it to future generations to meet the challenge head-on and leave a legacy of good jobs, clean air and water, and a healthy environment.
The right to freely participate in our Democracy is core to our shared values of freedom and democracy. Yet, for too long, this right wasn’t equally distributed amongst all Americans. I am poignantly aware of the fact that, as an African American, I would not have equal access to the ballot if it wasn’t for the sweat, tears, and shoe leather of brave Americans before me. And it is with that history in mind that I commit to continuing that fight for free and equal access to our democracy. This means making voter registration easier and more convenient, ending partisan gerrymandering, and creating a more transparent government through the power and reach of the internet. In doing so, we will ensure a government that meets the needs of the people instead of the politicians.