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Learn everything you need to know about voting in the upcoming election, including how to vote in person or through the mail as well as local candidates' positions on various issues and why they think you should vote for them.

N.C. Senate

WFAE asked candidates for Charlotte-area seats on the North Carolina General Assembly questions about why they should be elected (or reelected). Here are the answers we've received so far from state Senate candidates.

NC SENATE DISTRICT 37

Jeff Jackson
NC General Assembly
N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson

JEFF JACKSON, DEMOCRATIC (incumbent)

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

Ending gerrymandering, which both parties have used to cheat to win elections and which has slanted the political agenda toward political bases instead of the true will of the state.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

I would fundamentally restructure the unemployment process. It's incredibly stingy and difficult to access. To start, we need to modernize the software and expand eligibility to contract workers, as those are most of the new jobs being created in this economy.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

I certainly wouldn't play offense against the Post Office and demonize the concept of vote by mail. I have spent the last two months posting links to help people get registered and request an absentee ballot and track their absentee ballot. I have used every microphone I can find to encourage people to participate and to ensure them that their vote will be counted.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

My legislation would create an independent commission with no elected officials that is divided evenly between Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters. It would also restrict the types of information that the committee would have access to. For example, it would not have access to political data, which is what gets used to carve us up.

Additional information about Jeff Jackson can be found here.

SONJA P. NICHOLS, REPUBLICAN

Responses not yet received.

Information about Sonja P. Nichols can be found here.

JEFF SCOTT, LIBERTARIAN

Responses not yet received.

Information about Jeff Scott can be found here.

NC SENATE DISTRICT 38

JACK W. BROSCH, R

Jack Brosch.jpg
Jack Brosch

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

Maintaining North Carolina's leadership in Federalism and being an example of fiscal responsibility that results in GROWTH.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

N.C. (Division of Employment Security) has made great strides in the use of technology to facilitate the process of applying for unemployment. I would focus on polishing the application of technology in this process. I would also survey "customers" of the unemployment services to see what they think would be the best areas to focus on to increase service delivery.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

Simple. Enforce existing laws and policy.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

Having run for U.S. Congress in the old 12th district, I have a unique viewpoint of the damage gerrymandering does. I would focus on using technology to create district maps. The software configuring (rules) would be posted on the N.C. (State Board of Election) website for 30 days for citizens to read and respond to.

Additional information about Jack W. Brosch can be found here.

MUJTABA A. MOHAMMED, D (incumbent)

Mujtaba A. Mohammed
Mujtaba A. Mohammed for Senate

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

One of my top priorities as a North Carolina State Senator is fighting for the people, which means expanding access to their government by hosting town halls and listening sessions. It also means I prioritize legislation that improves outcomes, strengthens families, and the middle class. I want to be a state senator that residents of our city and state can be proud of and one that inspires the next generation of leaders.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

We need to increase our weekly supplement, provide funding for 24/7 support both virtual and by phone, and we need to create a streamlined application process that also allows individuals to apply for wrap around services and grants that are available from Community Action Agencies, a one-stop-shop if you will. I also believe we need to expand the amount of weeks that an individual can receive unemployment, and finally, I heard from dozens of Charlotteans about how even the unemployment system favors certain workers over others. We must do right by our gig-workers and include them in the eligibility requirements.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

If we were in the majority, I would sponsor and push legislation that would make Election Day a Statewide holiday, create a North Carolina version of the Voting Rights Act, which includes pre-clearance requirements that protect communities from discriminatory practices with each substantial change being submitted before a three-judge panel or the state attorney general. I would also sponsor legislation to implement automatic voter registration. I would sponsor legislation to protect access to Early Voting locations, ensuring at least every county, no matter the size, has at least two early voting locations. I would also support universal mail-in ballots for all registered voters.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

We need independent redistricting but also believe our courts played a great part in ensuring transparency and efficiency. I believe a three-judge panel will be instrumental in next year's process. I am proud of our endorsement from the NRDC and will support reforms to ensure politicians aren't hand-picking their voters.

Additional information about Mujtaba A. Mohammed can be found here.

NC SENATE DISTRICT 39

Joshua Niday campaign photo.jpg
Joshua Niday for NC
Joshua Niday

JOSHUA NIDAY, R

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

Bring back lost jobs, businesses and reopen the state.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

Ultimately I want people to return to their jobs. This is the best outcome for both the unemployed individual and the economy. Our primary focus should certainly be on bringing back jobs. For those that absolutely need unemployment, I would hire more people to operate the unemployment office, change/simplify some of the forms and streamline the process of benefit payments.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

I'm pretty sure everyone who is registered to vote in North Carolina can vote in North Carolina. If you want to vote then vote. There is nothing impeding your right to do so.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

The law says whoever controls the General Assembly draws the maps. However, I would be open to a committee (ad hoc or other), made up of members from both parties that would be responsible for drawing the maps.

Additional information about Joshua Niday can be found here.

DEANDREA SALVADOR, D

DeAndrea Salvador campaign photo.jpg
DeAndrea Salvador for NC
DeAndrea Salvador

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

As a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, my top priority will be economic recovery. Several factors will influence the state’s economic recovery efforts, as our response to the COVID-19 epidemic has multilaterally affected our state’s approach to prioritize, allocate, and re-allocate key resources. In order to meet our newly changing economic demands, our immediate recovery efforts have broadened significantly to include urgencies such as ancillary dollars to support our educational system, providing PPE on an ongoing basis, increasing our broadband capacity, and introducing legislation to adopt paid sick leave and enhanced Unemployment Insurance Benefits. These efforts, coupled with supporting and extending resources to our small business community, will map our road to economic recovery.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced several opportunities to improve the process for residents in North Carolina who seek unemployment. These opportunities range from strengthening the bandwidth and access to our broadband capabilities so that appliers have the technological assets to maneuver productively within the site, to reducing the amount of time – start to finish – that it takes for benefits to be paid out. According to the Federal Election Commission, 41% of North Carolinians do not subscribe to broadband internet, so I will work diligently to advance legislation that strengthens the bandwidth/accessibility capabilities of our broadband infrastructure. We must also remove other barriers to accessibility, such as the lack of diversification in our tools and systems, for instance, the online intake form, so that those assets include other languages. Most importantly, having a sense of urgency for improvements and taking a multi-faceted approach to achieve meaningful changes that will help decrease the time it takes for benefits to pay out, as N.C. was recently ranked among the worst states in the country for payments arriving on time.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

To ensure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election, I am working fervently to educate, inform and mobilize voter efforts, and I am encouraging others to do the same! COVID-19 has tested us all to work differently, however, the goal remains clear – we must ensure voters exercise their right to vote, ensure that right is protected, and ensure the process, as well as voter safety, are at the forefront. From online informational campaigns sharing key dates to ensuring vote by mail processes are accessible and secure, to soliciting PPE for our valued poll workers, I am diligently working to do my part to promote and safeguard the right for every voter in the state to have an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

To draw new district maps in North Carolina, I believe that an independent redistricting committee, with clear accountability to determine fair district boundaries based upon population, not politics, is essential.

Additional information about DeAndrea Salvador can be found here.

NC SENATE DISTRICT 40

BOBBIE SHIELDS, R

Bobbie Shields.jpg
Bobbie Shields for NC Senate District 40
Bobbie Shields

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

I have three priority areas - education, infrastructure improvement and economic development. Those three will help advance our quality of life. Given our current social, economic and political climate, my top priority is to refocus lawmakers on a common mission and vision for North Carolina. Without a common mission and vision, it will be hard to reach agreement on what is needed and how to progress.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

Many people currently seeking unemployment assistance have found themselves in an untenable situation because of an unusual set of circumstances. I would support legislation to expedite emergency assistance with trust and subsequent accountability. We know that some bureaucracy and red tape will be involved when public funds are being dispersed but that should not impede needed relief. All available funding sources (public and private) should be pursued. We must care about the well-being of our fellow North Carolinians and that requires processes that include trust.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

Voting is a right that must be protected. Unless there is contrary real evidence, every barrier that hampers the opportunity to vote must be removed. One political group is concerned about "voter fraud" and the other is concerned about "voter suppression." I would demand the evidence. Voter suppression has occurred in the past and I do not doubt that those who want to win at any cost would use that tactic, if possible. N.C. voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution to require voter ID. Any barriers to obtaining suitable ID must be removed.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

The historical problem with political maps is the party that controls the legislature after a decennial census is in charge of drawing the maps. A novel approach would be to reject that premise and devise a process controlled by entities other than either of the primary political parties - maybe engaging out-of-state mutual assistance. That would be my preferred method; however, such change is not likely. Fortunately, voters ultimately determine who controls the state legislature and they get to decide every other year.

Additional information about Bobbie Shields can be found here.

JOYCE WADDELL, D (incumbent)

Responses not yet received.

Information about Joyce Waddell can be found here.

NC SENATE DISTRICT 41

CHRISTOPHER COLE, Constitution

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

The abolition of abortion.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

End the lockdowns, so people can work.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

There is nothing preventing people from voting. It is a choice of what is more important, COVID or voting.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

I don't agree that we need a change.

Additional information about Christopher Cole can be found here.

NATASHA MARCUS, D (incumbent)

Natasha Marcus
Natasha Marcus

What is your top priority as a member of the North Carolina General Assembly?

If I have to choose, a single top priority has to be setting a course for our state to get through the pandemic with as few COVID-19 cases as possible and with treatment for all who need it, so that students can return to school safely and we can get North Carolinians back to work and enjoying public experiences. There are additional important priorities, which are discussed on my website, NatashaMarcus.com.

What would you do to improve the process for people seeking unemployment?

People who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own deserve prompt assistance from the Division of Employment Security. For too many people, help has been slow and benefits are insufficient. To assist, I have worked on behalf of many constituents to help them cut through DES red tape and get their benefits; I will continue to do so. I have also advocated for better unemployment benefits because North Carolina's are among the least generous in the nation, running out too soon and capped at a maximum of only $350/wk. In addition, the online application process must be improved to be more user-friendly and transparent. As it is now, benefits are held up without explanation, appeals are slow, and it's difficult for many people to get a human being on the phone to get answers to their questions. A major cause of frustration is that the computer system is outdated, which should be updated, and we need more customer service agents with sufficient training to help applicants through the process.

What would you do to make sure every voter in the state has an opportunity to cast their ballot in the upcoming election?

I filed a comprehensive 2020 Election Protection Bill to address all the ways in which we needed to prepare for safe and secure voting during this pandemic. It's SB861: https://www.ncleg.gov/BillLookUp/2019/S861. It includes protections and incentives for poll workers, to ensure there are sufficient workers to keep polling locations open. It includes drive-thru voting options. It includes methods of making mail-in voting more accessible, including an online ballot request portal, allowance for trained nursing home staff to assist residents with their ballots, and revisions to the witness requirement to put North Carolina in line with most other states and reduce the need to come into close contact with others during a pandemic. It also includes prepaid postage on mail-in ballots, expanded online voter registration, and directives to increase voter education about voting options. Finally, it includes a requirement that the state establishes a uniform protocol for how to cure incomplete absentee ballots so that ballots are not thrown out without an opportunity for the voter to correct them. Some, but not all, of the provisions of my bill were included in the final 2020 election bill passed by the NCGA.

What method do you think should be used to draw new district maps in North Carolina?

Legislators should not draw their own maps. We should switch to a nonpartisan independent commission or computer-based model, with minimal human influence over the process. Gerrymandering has wreaked havoc in our state and we need to end it. Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.

Additional information about Natasha Marcus can be found here.