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⚡️ VOTER GUIDE: House District 113 Q&A

Sam Edney is challenging state Rep. Cody Henson in the House District 113 race. Sam Edney is challenging state Rep. Cody Henson in the House District 113 race.

Candidates for House District 113 are Democrat Sam Edney, 68, of Cedar Mountain, and incumbent Cody Henson, 26, of Rosman.

Why are you running for the North Carolina Legislature?

Edney: This election more than any in my lifetime is about values. We need a representative who cares about our people, not who will not put corporate tax cuts over children, teachers, and healthcare. Our taxes pay for Medicaid in other states while 100,000 NC kids aren’t covered. Our schools are nearly 40th in the country for funding. Many folks are one paycheck from being homeless. I grew up wearing hand-me-down clothes and eating food from the church, but I didn’t want that. Mountain people don’t want a handout – they want an opportunity. That’s why I am running.

Henson: I am running because I love this state and our small corner of WNC. Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of working tirelessly to address the issues that we face in rural North Carolina. Together, we have accomplished many great things such as increasing teacher pay, investing more in education, delivering tax relief to hard working families and right sizing our state’s regulatory code. While we have accomplished a great deal, there is still much to do. We still have a great deal to do when it comes to education, regulatory reform, making our state more military and veteran friendly and school safety.

There are six constitutional amendments on the ballot. Which ones do you favor and which ones do you oppose and why.

Henson: I support all six of our constitutional amendments. Hunting and fishing is a way of life for many folks in WNC. That right should be enshrined and protected in our constitution. I believe we should expand the rights of victims to reach the victims of violent misdemeanors. I believe we should all want to protect the integrity of our elections by requiring that we all show a photo ID to prove that we are who we say we are. I believe that there is absolutely no reason our income tax should ever be higher than 7 percent. I believe our board of elections and ethics should be free from politics and not run by the same party of the Governor, whose elections they oversee. I also believe our judicial vacancy appointment process is horribly flawed and has been abused by governors of both parties and turned into political appointments, this amendment will provide oversight by the people’s elected representatives and still allow the Governor the power to appointment judges. These are just my opinions and why I will vote FOR all six amendments. I encourage everyone to read the proposed amendments and draw your own conclusions and vote your conscience. I personally don’t believe it is my job as a representative or candidate for re-election to try to persuade voters either way on this issue.

Edney: The problem with the proposed amendments on the ballot is that they don’t say how they’ll be implemented. Put it this way: would you sign a contract if you didn’t know how the contact worked? Our constitution is the bedrock of our government. Changing our constitution is serious. Every person I have spoken with supports the separation of powers - Republicans and Democrats. Two of the amendments have been opposed by both Republican and Democratic former Governors - all five who are alive. All six living former Supreme Court Justices from our Supreme Court have spoken out against them. All of these experienced men and women are concerned about the Separation of Powers. Our founders built in checks and balances to protect us from the abuse of power. We should all take heed. The Hunting and Fishing Amendment is unnecessary. I see no reason to vote for or against it. I have hunted and fished all my life. It is brazen for this General Assembly to put forth an Amendment for Victims Rights when they refused to uphold the rights of 15,000 victims of rape by refusing to fund the testing of the 15,000 untested rape kits. That is shameful.

3. Are you in favor of or opposed to expanding Medicaid in North Carolina to provide health care to more people? Why?

Edney: Yes, I’m in favor of bringing our tax dollars back to NC to expand Medicaid. We’re sending our money to other states while 100,000 of our own children don’t have healthcare. NC health premiums are the second highest nationwide. Rural hospital birthing centers in Brevard and elsewhere have closed. If you live in Balsam Grove, it’s a two-hour drive to a birthing center. When a young couple starts a family, often they can’t afford health insurance. Forty percent of the children in foster care because of opioid addiction. Expanding Medicaid will close the insurance coverage gap and enable greater mental healthcare access.

Henson: I am opposed to expanding Medicaid for two reasons. The first being that it would bankrupt our state and call for a massive tax increase. Medicaid expansion alone would cost $72 billion. Our current base budget is only $24 billion. While the federal government would pay for roughly $30 billion for Medicaid expansion, that money will eventually run out, leaving the state to pick up the tab. Second, Medicaid is already a flawed system. Adding more people to rolls will not improve it. We need to fix the issues with Medicaid before we inundate the system with more people.

 

 

4. The Republican leadership of the Legislature touts its record on teacher pay and smaller class sizes. “The average base salary for a teacher in North Carolina increased by $8,700, or nearly 20 percent, since the 2014 school year,” Senate leader Phil Berger said on Aug. 30. “More than 40,000 teachers – close to half of all public school teachers in the state – will have received at least a $10,000 pay raise by the 2018-19 school year. In fact, over a 30-year career, a teacher will earn $237,200 more on the 2018-19 salary schedule than he or she would have earned under the old Democrat plan.” Is the record Berger cites deserving of voters’ endorsement? Why or why not?

Henson: Teacher pay has increased. In the late 2000s due to poor budgeting and a horrible tax code, when the recession hit, money had to be pulled from elsewhere and our state employees and teachers took the hit by some losing their jobs, some had pay freezes and some took pay cuts. Under Republican leadership, teachers have received 5 consecutive pay raises. Are we where we need to be on teacher pay? Absolutely not. Did we get into the fiscal mess of the late 2000’s overnight? No. We will not fix these issues overnight. I am committed to continuing this great work for not only our teachers but all of our state employees and our retirees. 



Edney: The average teacher salary has risen 5% since 2009, but after adjusting for inflation, the real value is down 9.4%. Salaries begin $9,600 less than the national average, which has created a teacher shortage in North Carolina. Teachers in South Carolina make $10,000 more a year. Good teachers are leaving the state for better pay and benefits. Mr. Berger’s legislature has discouraged an entire generation from becoming educators. Enrollment is off by about 30% in teaching curriculums. Our children deserve a world-class, publicly funded education, but the General Assembly put corporate tax cuts over our children.

What specifically are your highest priorities in the Legislature for serving your district?


Edney: We need to invest in our schools so our children can get the education they deserve and opportunity to have a successful future. We need to Expand Medicaid to provide healthcare to 100,000 NC children. Too many families cannot afford insurance, and that hurts our kids. We need better jobs. Between 2000-2015, Transylvania, Henderson and Polk Counties were among the hardest hit for losing good-paying jobs. While the nation and the state saw middle-paying jobs grow about 5%, we lost 17-25% here. This General Assembly moved economic development resources to the Piedmont in 2013-14. It’s time to invest in the mountains.

Henson: There are a host of issues that the next General Assembly will have to face and there isn’t really a “perfect” answer. One big issue is broadband access in rural areas. I believe that access to high speed internet is this generation’s equivalent to electricity. I do not believe that government is the answer but there is a role that we will all play in providing and facilitating for every household in North Carolina to have access to high speed internet. I will continue to fight to curb the burdensome regulations that keeps existing businesses from growing and new business to develop or relocate to our state.

 

What other major priorities do you have for your district and the state?

Henson: My highest priorities are jobs and the economy, education and school safety and providing constituent services. This year we were able to secure funding for the Stop the Bleed pilot program to train teachers in Transylvania County to stop life threatening injuries. The economic success has been slow to arrive to much of WNC but we are beginning to see those benefits. We can begin to see more by teaching and preparing our students for the jobs of tomorrow, expanding our CTE curriculum and fostering the partnership of our community colleges and businesses in our area.

 

Edney: We need to get money out of politics and focus on our people. I hear stories about how many people are one paycheck away from homelessness. No one working 40 hours a week should live in poverty. The focus in the Legislature goes to Charlotte and Raleigh, but we deserve the same attention and opportunity. Let’s invest in broadband internet to attract good industries, jobs, and better wages. I grew up here, owned businesses, served in public office, and worked with non-profits. I know what it means to set a budget and meet a payroll. We need that kind of leadership and experience to Raleigh.