ERICA’S PLATFORM & PRIORITIES
As an engineer by training – I firmly believe that systems should be analyzed and re-engineered for optimization and enhancing outcomes. Our nation was built from rural investments to urban industrialism. In the last three decades – declining population, loss of manufacturing jobs, lowering prices of agriculture commodities and more recently – tariffs, have placed the rural regions of our country in economic distress. I support targeted and strategic investments in water and sewer infrastructure, broadband, agriculture innovation, biofuels, clean energy options of wind, solar, and our highway system in order to revitalize rural economies. In closing the rural-urban divide through these re-investments – we will be able to create jobs while stabilizing underserved communities and strengthen our economy. In promoting economic development, we must work closely with our community colleges for building a skilled workforce and k-12 education systems for promoting career ready graduates. Main street revitalization and access to federal incentive programs are key contributors to growing corporate and small businesses, creating 21st century jobs and securing prosperity for all Americans. The formulas we write in Washington DC should work in all areas of our Union.
We are at a critical juncture in our nation where we must use our economic tools to promote job creation through ensuring a healthy environment for growth and support of small businesses. Our economic policies, tax and spend planning and regulations should be constructed in a manner that provides businesses with certainty and incentives, and consumers with confidence and more income. Tax cuts, government spending and fiscal policy should build the middle class and benefit more than the wealthy. I favor conservative fiscal principles and believe that retooling our formulas for business incentives should prioritize job creation.
Our state and nation is rich with agriculture, eco-tourism, natural resources, including mountains, beautiful lakes, rivers, streams and coastal beaches. I support environmentally responsible growth that harnesses these resources toward promoting clean energy initiatives, fishing and wildlife protections as well as our state’s number 1 industry “farming”. I support solar and wind energy installations, broadband expansion and environmental justice for land owners.
Currently, I represent several counties in northeastern NC that experienced major impacts from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. I learned, first-hand, the importance of providing responses to natural disasters with an organized, comprehensive and structured response that address immediate emergency needs and sets resiliency planning. The types of 100-year, and 500-year floods that we have experienced in two years across this nation is a warning to America that we must have a more proactive plan to deal with global warming, climate control and disaster responsiveness. Communication is a key component in responding to disasters. In this vain, we must continue to invest in satellite and communications technology that provide early prediction and monitoring of storm patterns in order to evacuate as many people as possible out of the eye of the storm. We must further perform analysis of climate change and implement policy and target goals for reducing emissions and carbon-power generation. Other necessary steps would be to re-locate threatening industries outside of the flood plains so that we can limit pollution to our clean water supplies that result from spillage, pond overflow, and flooding. Our local, state and federal planners must optimize engineering designs for emergency structures that withstand category 2, 3, 4 winds and stop relying on schools – many of which are in no condition to safely house residents in a storm. There must be federal, state and local efforts to audit regulations, policies and statutes with various EPA, Emergency Management and FEMA related to crisis response and modify any current practices for more optimized results.
I believe it is time to bring a universally progressive, business-minded and workforce connected emphasis to K-12 education. My unique experiences as a secondary STEM educator and former school board member empower me with the understanding of optimizing stakeholder connections. If we are to regain our standings as international leaders in public education promoting career and college readiness curriculum, then we must retool our public education system. With the Federal Every Student Succeeds Acct (ESSA), we finally have the flexibility to implement an accountability program that promotes problem-based learning over high stakes testing. We can better prepare workers for the 21st century by aligning our curriculum with enhanced Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) in companion with multidisciplinary ‘whole-child’ curriculum. We should further tailor individualized education plans that prepare every student for a brighter future regardless of their choice of learning environment (Traditional, Home, Virtual, Charter, Nonpublic, hybrid). I will work to provide a quality K-12 education for students and the resources they need to acquire this in the learning environment most conducive for their progress, with a priority on strengthening the public schools of our nation.
Community Colleges with strong curriculum programs and short-term workforce training offer the optimized option for retooling our workforce and ensuring the security of America with an educated citizenry and large pool of skilled labor. We must make Community College as affordable as possible, or at minimal cost of less than $500 in tuition per term. While I am an engineer by training, I warn against having an over-emphasis on S.T.E.A.M. that discounts the need for skilled trade and fastest growing professions of personal care, wind turban and solar panel maintenance and installation. Through apprenticeship programs – we can enhance the workforce needed for 21st century jobs and professions that do not require a four-year, Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree.
North Carolina and Congress has a duty to our citizens to provide access to health care, whether long term care and assisted living for senior citizens through Medicare or by expanding Medicaid for those who struggle and cannot afford access. According to a recent Health Insurance Org study, NC’s failure to expand Medicaid has resulted in denied coverage for over 800,000 eligible patients, rejection of approximately $40 billion dollars over the next decade, a denial of over 40,000 health care jobs that could be created and the likely more than 1000 deaths per year due to lack of access to care. Our citizens pay taxes that fund Medicaid expansion in other states. This is not right, and we can do better than this.
When elected to serve as your next US Senator, I will fight to maintain affordable healthcare for all Americans, prescription drug price controls, advancing medical research for curing cancer, HIV/AIDS, and access to Women’s Reproductive Healthcare.
In addition, I am committed to improving health ratings in low scoring regions and populations in our country through coordinated strategies for improving ratings. I will work hard as your US Senator to increase access to preventative health, increase recreation access and fitness awareness and promote access to healthy food options. Nationally – we can seek more resources through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) for funding programs to address these disparities through community health partnerships. Providing more access to preventative care by closing the healthcare coverage gap through expansion of affordable healthcare for all would make a tremendous impact with reducing high costs of patient emergency care and provide early diagnosis and prevention of serious illness. Addressing food deserts and consequent lack of healthy options through farm-to-table initiatives, community gardens. USDA grants, and healthy eating public service programs. Promoting ecotourism and recreation through expanding development of walking, biking and scooter trails across underserved communities. I will also work to revise our elementary and secondary education standards of learning to include an increase in physical education requirements for students K-12, revising FDA, USDA, regulations to promote healthier national standards would also be an effort I would promote on the Hill to improve the lives of North Carolinians and all Americans.
I firmly believe that the way our laws are written, implemented and applied have a disparate impact on poor people and minorities. While my list is not comprehensive, the following are initiatives that I seek to balance with fairness, equity, public safety and justice.
- I support Senator Corey Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act. Marijuana should be legalized and the prison sentences for same should be reduced or commuted commensurate with decriminalization of opioids and more compassionate approaches to victims of the opioid epidemic;
- I support implementation of 2012 and 2014 Department of Justice Community Policing Recommendations and Guidelines for Implementation of School Discipline Policies that enhance nondiscrimination protections of Title IV and Title VI Protections under the 1964 Civil Rights Act
- I support reinstatement of Section V of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, universal and automatic voter registration, Election Day Holiday and protection of our electoral process from interference from foreign governments
- Equal Pay for Equal Work, Closing the gender and demographic earnings gaps
- Common Sense gun control that bans bum stocks and assault rifles and enhances universal background checks
- Gender equity and protections for LGBTQ communities from harassment and discrimination
- No money bonds for misdemeanors and low level felonies in advancing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
- Sentence restructuring for non-violent, low level drug offenders
- Strengthening laws against human trafficking, opioid trafficking and prescription controls
- IMMIGRATION – I support the DREAM Act without exiting the country for access to a fair, legal route to citizenship
- LIVE-ABLE WAGE (increasing the minimum wage) – I support a federal baseline for an incremental increase in the minimum wage, indexed with inflation to $12 by 2020 and $15/hour by 2024
- TAX TRANSPARENCY – I support NC’s T.R.U.M.P. Act, (Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public) filed by my colleague, Senator Jay Chaudhuri, to require all candidates who run for the Office of President of the United States to release their tax summaries prior to their names being placed on the ballot. A step further – I believe that all federal candidates should report this information.
- TAX CODE RE-EVALUATION – Many citizens have reached out to me to complain about how much more their tax penalty increased, or how much less they received in tax returns with the 2018 Tax and Jobs Act. Once all of the data from 2018 filings are completed, I support a thorough analysis of the tax burdens on the working middle class and adjustments in tax cuts to the wealthy. I support a Service Worker’s Tax Act and have filed bills each Session I have served in testament to my belief that tip reporting in wages creates a permanent underclass in this category of workers who are overwhelming women.
- I support enshrining Equal Rights for Women in our United States Constitution
- As a former union member, and representative, I support the labor movement and its backbone of bargaining in interest of workers who make America work, day in and day out.
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