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LIGHTNING VOTER GUIDE: N.C. Senate District 48

Running for the NC Senate District 48 seat are Brian Caskey and Chuck Edwards. Running for the NC Senate District 48 seat are Brian Caskey and Chuck Edwards.

The candidates for state Senate District 48 are challenger Brian Caskey, a Democrat, and Chuck Edwards, the Republican incumbent.

Caskey, 49, is mayor pro tem of the town of Mills River. He and his wife, Stacey, are co-owners of Biltmore Tutoring. Caskey has two daughters — Caitlyn, a nurse in Asheville, and Allison, a senior at West Henderson High School.

Edwards, 60, has been in the state Senate since 2016. He is owner of seven McDonald’s franchises in the Henderson and Buncombe counties. He and his wife, Teresa, are the parents of two children. They live in Flat Rock.

Why are you running for election to the N.C. General Assembly?

Caskey: I’m running for a State Senate seat because, despite being the first Democrat ever elected in Mills River, I’ve been able to work across the aisle and get a lot accomplished for the good of the community. There are solar panels on the roof of every town-owned building in Mills River. That reduces our energy expenses by 77 percent. Based on resident feedback, we’re also investing in greenways and building new parks and ballfields. It’s time for North Carolinians to lift their eyes to the horizon, and allow our state to become first in education, first in agriculture and first in industry.

Edwards: We are at major crossroads in this country. The values that made us great are under a colossal attack. We see forces of socialism, lawlessness and unabashed spending that will be of epochal consequence. We find our freedoms are being snatched from beneath our eyes. I see my government service as an extension of my well-known service to this community. I want to fight these threats — and help ensure a bright future for N.C. families, children and small businesses. The tenure and responsibilities I’ve now earned in the Senate position me to make a positive difference for our district.

The two political parties have expressed different views on the actions of the Cooper administration regarding the coronavirus pandemic. What do you think of those actions? What would you do differently?

 

Edwards: Early on, while the effect of Covid-19 on our society was unknown, the right decision was to pause long enough to determine with what we are dealing. Quickly armed with more information and after knowing that our hospitals were not being overrun as feared, we should have begun to allow N.C. to safely reopen and allow our citizens to provide for their families and go about their lives. Of course, precautions are still needed, but you can look at our neighboring states that chose to honor the rights of individuals and businesses over political egos and see that there were better alternatives.

Caskey: The industries that took the biggest hit during the lockdown were hospitality and education. My wife and I own a tutoring center, and we didn’t take pay for four months while making sure that our employees were paid. My opponent took a PPP bailout worth between $1 and $2 million, while businesses on Main Street closed for good. Gov. Cooper and NCDHHS were concerned about public health, and they were aggressive about protecting us from Covid. The majority party in the General Assembly played political games, fighting the governor instead of working with him. North Carolinians deserve better.

Gov. Cooper and the Legislature have been in a standoff over Medicaid expansion for four years. What is your position on Medicaid expansion?

 

Edwards: I oppose the one-size-fits-all expansion of Medicaid. Of course I want to see every citizen have access to health care but this is not the solution. This is perhaps the most overpoliticized and misunderstood issue I’ve seen debated over the last decade. While this expansion is flaunted as “free” it clearly is not. There are high fiscal and human costs. The Governor’s proposal is expected to cost up to $171.3 million in the first year alone. Even my opponent admitted, “the other 10 percent would be paid by other workers.” That means higher taxes and higher premiums.

Caskey: We are already paying for Medicaid expansion. When we pay our federal taxes, the part that could be coming back to North Carolina is instead going to New York and other states. By saying yes to Medicaid expansion, we would agree to a federal program that costs nothing and would bring back $4 billion in revenue. It would also add 40,000 jobs, many of them in Buncombe and Henderson counties, and insure at least 635,000 of our friends and neighbors. We need to agree to Medicaid expansion and make sure that we’re getting what we’re already paying for.

What other priorities do you have for the district you hope to represent and the state of North Carolina if you are elected? 

Caskey: I believe in fairness and equity, and that the current system is stacked against the working man. While I believe in keeping taxes low (and have increased services in Mills River while dropping the tax rate), I do not believe that out-of-state corporations should enjoy a special advantage, as they do now. I believe that we should take advantage of the greatness of our capitalist system, so that we can extend a helping hand to those who need it. So, let’s make sure our kids are getting a great education, let’s protect the environment, and let’s expand Medicaid.

Edwards: My priorities include working for families, children, and small businesses in my district through a strong economy, great jobs, a results-oriented education system, a law-abiding society, and the protection of our freedoms. I am a small businessman that is proud to be endorsed by small businesses and by law enforcement. I’d be honored to again have your vote to serve you for another term in the N.C. Senate. To learn more about me, please visit ChuckEdwardsNC.com.