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Three candidates are vying for the Senate District 4 seat. The redrawn district will include the entirety of Wilson, Edgecombe and Halifax counties.
Sen. Milton F. “Toby” Fitch Jr., a Democrat, was appointed in March to serve the remainder of Sen. Angela Bryant’s current term when Bryant resigned to accept a state government post. He now faces Republican challenger Richard Scott and Libertarian candidate Jesse Shearin, who both hail from Halifax County.
The Wilson Times surveyed the candidates on relevant issues in the race and presents their responses of 100 words or fewer in a continuing series of candidate questionnaires ahead of the general election on Nov. 6.
Why do you believe you’re the best candidate to provide Wilson County with effective representation in the N.C. Senate?
FITCH: I have the temperament, dedication and education to serve this district and advocate for the needs of Wilson County families.
SCOTT: I believe in bringing people together to solve the problems facing Wilson County. We need to work more on community unity, to bring everyone to the table, no matter what race, gender, religion or political affiliation. I have learned over many years of working with a lot of groups that embodies the creed, “Working Together Works.”
SHEARIN: The best candidate is the one who is most reluctant to exercise power over other human beings for “their own good.” He does not consider himself to “know what is best” for them. Instead, he is constantly searching for opportunities to increase their individual liberty, responsibility and self-respect. I aspire to be that candidate.
What would be your top three legislative priorities if elected?
FITCH: Education, economic development, public safety and affordable housing.
SCOTT: Affordable health care by easing managed health care and direct primary health care to expand so that everyone can be covered. Economic development (jobs) by working toward true entrepreneurship by more improvement and better tax rates. Quality education for all children through school choice so that the parents can decide which school will best serve their child. Work hard on the drug problem in the area.
SHEARIN: If elected, my first priority would be to pass a constitutional amendment requiring that overall spending could not increase by a rate that exceeds (a) the rate of increase in the cost of living plus (b) the rate at which the population is increasing. My second priority would be to “localize” education to the extent possible. Each county should have the power to create and operate the kind of education system that suits its own unique situation. My third priority would be to seek legislation to permit betting on horse races, thereby stimulating the economy of rural counties.
What resources do local institutions such as municipalities and the public school system need from the General Assembly, and how would you work to secure them?
FITCH: Funds; working as a team player to secure those funds.
SCOTT: The General Assembly needs to continue to cut the red tape that hampers growth. The local institutions should have more control over their governance, municipalities with their city or town councils and schools with their local school board. Local boards know their local needs a lot better than groups in Raleigh.
SHEARIN: Unfortunately, no “institution” ever has the resources it “needs.” Meeting the needs of municipalities and the public school system will always be determined by changing circumstances and by continuing dialogue between the institutions and their legislative representatives. I look forward to participating in that dialogue.
Do you support improvements to the state’s public records and open meetings laws, such as making police body camera and dashboard camera video more accessible to the public?
SCOTT: I do support improvement in the public records and open meetings laws. I feel that police officers should have access to body cameras and dashboard cameras to better protect themselves against false claims but also protect the public.
SHEARIN: Laws affecting public records and public meetings are designed to provide access to information that affects the public welfare. Nevertheless, each such law is another “burden” on the public entity, both operationally and financially. We need to weigh carefully the burdens and the benefits of such laws.
Should the state revisit the House Bill 2 compromise, or is returning to the status quo sufficient for restroom and public facilities access?
FITCH: We need to return to the status quo and restore local governments’ ability to pass the policies that work for their communities.
SCOTT: No need to revisit HB2 at this time.
SHEARIN: We need to “let the dust settle” a little longer before re-opening this very sensitive issue.
What should the legislature’s relationship with the governor look like? Has either side overstepped its bounds, and how would you seek to restore the balance of power?
FITCH: We need to work with the governor’s office for the common purpose of improving people’s lives. The legislature and the governor may have different ideas on how to do that. But it is our collective responsibility to find common ground on the issues facing our state. We need to reestablish the constitutional functions of our three branches of government, knowing that it is the responsibility of the legislature to make the laws. It is therefore the responsibility for our judicial system to enforce said laws. The legislature overstepped its bounds after the 2016 elections, making it harder for both the executive and judicial branches to do their jobs. We need cooler heads to prevail and bring balance back to government by enforcing the constitutional responsibilities and limitations of each branch of government.
SCOTT: In the Bible (Acts 17), Paul in his letter to the churches said to find one thing you can agree on and work it out from there. The three branches of government should be working to make the lives of the citizens of North Carolina better and making the great state of North Carolina a better place to live.
SHEARIN: The relationship between a governor from one party and a legislature controlled by another party will never “look” very good. Improvements will come about only when the people elect a governor and a majority of legislators from the same party.