NC State Senate District 15 — Sig Hutchinson (D)
Political Party: Democrat
How long in district:
Campaign website: sigforsenate.com
The economy is at the top of voters’ minds in this year’s election. What do you think elected officials can do to address it?
My campaign is built around what I refer to as the three Es, which is: strengthening our economy, improving our education, and protecting our environment. And, of which, jobs and the economy is clearly within the purview of the first “E.” So, the question before us is: how do we continue to create jobs in North Carolina? And my answer to that is that North Carolina is one of, if not the best, places to live in America. How do we continue to grow and make North Carolina the best place to live in America? I don’t think it’s enough to maintain quality of life, I believe it’s important to improve it.
So how do we do that? Well, I have three tenets that I like to work on. One is, I believe that it is important to continue to invest in transportation, and that is roads and bridges, but it’s also investing in alternative forms of transportation to give people a transportation option. So that includes transit; it includes greenways. It includes bike lanes, and it includes sidewalks. The second thing I believe we need to invest in is science and technology, in that we’re all keenly aware that RTP brought us into the 20th century and clearly science and technology is going to take us into the 21st century.
The third thing that I believe in terms of our quality of life is to do more to appreciate and respect arts and culture. Arts define any civilization, and we are no exception to that. I think we do an adequate job just in terms of the fact that we have a lot of creative class professionals here, but I don’t think we go far enough to appreciate what they do. There’s two components to this: one is at the institutional level, so that we need to support things such as the ballet, the opera, the symphony, the museums. But we also need to support the creative class artists who basically populate these institutions. So we need more funding.
However, those young professionals coming here, the first things that they are going to be asking themselves, in addition to “where is a great place to live?” is “what does the school system look like?” Which then moves in to improving our education, around affordable education, access to technical colleges, more teachers in K-12 and an open seat and a smiling teacher for every child in our More at 4 and Smart Start programs.
Why should your constituents elect you?
There’s two components to that. Number one is that, clearly, I am a business Democrat. I have been in the Chamber — the Chamber of Commerce — as a member for 30 years. I’m a serial entrepreneur who started several businesses, including a communications business and a co-founder of the Raleigh Downtowner. So, I understand entrepreneurialism, I understand business and I understand efficiency. But I’m also a quality of life candidate in that I have led five bond referendums for more open space, more parks, more greenways, more affordable housing and for transportation. And so, for the last 15 of the 30 years I have lived in North Carolina, I’ve been getting up every day trying to figure out how to make North Carolina better than it is today. And to that end, I feel things such as preserving 4,000 acres of open space, creating over 200 miles of interconnected greenways, creating over 50 miles of striped bike lanes and working hard to create more transit options with the half-cent sales tax for transit, positions me to not only understand the quality of life side, but the business side. And clearly, as a result of that experience in understanding the total package of what it takes to make North Carolina better, I feel like North Carolina deserves a new voice and a new vision for the state.
What do you think of the state’s new fracking law and how do you think it should be implemented?
There’s two things that have made North Carolina great. One is intellectual capital, and two is natural capital. And as long as we stay focused on those two things, North Carolina will continue to be the best place to live in America. When you think about those two things of intellectual capital and natural capital, those are the things we need to continue to invest in. When I think of fracking, I don’t think of either one of those frames. It doesn’t do anything for our natural beauty and it doesn’t do anything to make our citizens stronger. So, I am not in favor of fracking just because I don’t think it serves the purpose or the citizens of North Carolina in the short run or in the long run.
In a recent Supreme Court ruling, the court gave states the option of expanding the Medicaid program to cover many low-income adults, and the federal government will be paying for the bulk of the expansion. What, if anything, do you think North Carolina should do about expanding Medicaid?
They ought to do it. You know, recognizing that the United States Government is going to pay 90 percent of the cost, initially, and that 20 percent of our citizens currently do not have insurance, this could go a long way of not only creating a more healthy population but reducing cost. Unhealthy citizens are very expensive on two counts. Number one is, since they don’t have access to care, they tend to wait until they are in a chronic, almost, could be dire situation before they seek help, of which it would be much less expensive, and better for the citizens, is to be able to access care before a situation gets to be that chronic. So, it actually saves money and creates better citizens that have more access to healthcare. So there’s no reason why we cannot have an insured and healthy population, because it’s better for our state and it’s better for our citizens.
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