Let’s Grow Our Small Businesses

In 2013 I was lucky enough to be featured on a TV show with a BBQ sauce that I wanted to produce and sell in stores. To be able to capitalize on the show’s airing, I came home and got right to work trying to have a business to promote. After meeting with an advisor from a business mentoring program, I figured out that I was going to need around $8,000 to start my business. I had great credit and a decent income. So, I figured that I should be able to get a small business loan to finance my start-up cost. I could not have been more wrong!

The 2008 financial crisis had a devastating effect on our nation’s community banks. Many closed or were bought out by larger banks. These banks were traditionally the lifeblood of small business funding. Now, it is harder than ever to find any funding to start or grow your business. I want to change this with a new plan that I a debuting today.

How the plan will work:

The state would set aside $10 million in funding each year to back funding. Potential small business owners would sign up for a free business mentoring program offered through the Small Business Administration called SCORE. The owners would develop a business plan with their mentor as well as completely flesh out their business idea. They would then attend a basic small business course through their local community college to learn the basics of budgeting and the like. Once these tasks are completed, they can then apply for a low-interest loan through participating banks. The loans would max out at $10,000 and the banks would have discretion on issuing the loan based on the business plan and availability of the funding remaining. The loans would have a generous payment schedule so that it doesn’t stifle the fledgling business.

The general idea here is that this would model how student loans are issued, except of course this is for small businesses. The goal is to have more small businesses launching in our state and thus more jobs and economic prosperity.

Net Neutrality – What can NC do about it?

So, if you read my last blog post about net neutrality, you learned what it was and why destroying it was bad. In this post, I will cover what my campaign plans to do about it if it is enacted.

The reason that net neutrality is an issue is that you have internet service providers that also produce content. For instance, Comcast (an internet service provider) owns NBC Universal. So, Comcast has an invested interest in prioritizing NBC content over other content. Without net neutrality, they can throttle other traffic slower so that you will want to watch their content or pay Comcast more to see your preferred content without buffering.

In 2011, our state GOP passed legislation that prevents municipalities from creating their own internet providers. At that time, NC was seeing some of these companies start having success. One of these companies was Greenlight owned by the city of Wilson. Take a look at some of these plans they offer:

 

http://www.greenlightnc.com/packages/

It is easy to see why the cable and internet companies got scared and decided to pay off our legislators to prevent more of these companies from existing. They were scared that these companies would force them to actually be competitive. That is why I back rolling back this harmful legislation. If the FCC does decide to back companies over the will of the people, then my plan will allow us to retain an open and free internet.

If my plan was enacted, towns will be able to start their own broadband companies. Since they won’t be producing content, they have no reason to favor one form of content over another. So, they will be net neutral. This should force the national ISPs to be net neutral as well because if they are not, you can leave them.

 

If you want to keep your internet open and free, please help me get elected. Vote, donate, and volunteer.

 

 

Net Neutrality – What is it?

The internet that you know now is one in which you can visit any internet site that you like. This means that if you want to watch Netflix that you visit their website, select what you want to watch, and then you enjoy. You do this expecting that your internet provider will treat the Netflix traffic the same as if you had streamed the show from your cable provider’s website.

Treating all internet data the same, no matter the source is net neutrality.

How angry would you be if your phone company started dictating who you could or could not call and required you to upgrade your phone package if you wanted to call people outside of your normal network? This is similar to the situation we will be facing if net neutrality is destroyed. Our internet providers, that have a monopoly on service throughout much of the country, will be able to create different tiers of packages surrounding the websites we go to. Think this sounds made up? Packages like this already exist. Is this the type of ad we want to see here in America:

Without net neutrality, your cable company gets to choose how fast it delivers the content you are wanting to see. Net neutrality is in danger because on December 14th, Donald Trump’s FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, wants to get rid of it. Pai, a former top lawyer for Verizon, has chosen to ignore the close to 20 million comments in support of neutrality. In order to preserve our internet, I encourage you to call your representatives today. You can reach them at 202-224-3121.

 

 

Consent

In light of the recent news concerning sexual harassment and the “me too” campaign, I think we should discuss North Carolina’s outdated consent law. Currently, North Carolina law states that women cannot legally revoke their consent to engage in sexual intercourse once that act has consensually begun. This makes us the only state in the country to not allow a woman to revoke consent at any point. Senator Jeff Jackson has proposed a bill twice to be able to fix our state law. Yet, it has yet to pass. THIS NEEDS TO CHANGE and I will do what I can to help it change if I am elected. A woman should be in control of her body and should never be forced to do anything she doesn’t want to happen. This shouldn’t have to be a fight, and yet, here we are. Let’s make this right and that starts by electing those who will make this a priority.

2008

  “We are going to have to let you go,” I remember those words well in 2008. Like so many other North Carolinians around that time, I lost my job and it was not because of anything that I had done. The financial crisis hit the housing industry tremendously hard. The company who I was working for at that time depended on the housing industry. So, the company was forced to make many hard decisions. I went through two years of struggling to make ends meet. If I didn’t have great friends, family, and unemployment, there was no way that I would have survived that experience.

     I fear what happens the next time that our nation’s economy takes a turn for the worse. That is why my campaign will be focusing so much on jobs, the economy, and education. Those are the three things that will help insulate our state if we have another recession.
   So, what are some things that we can do at the state level to create the best environment for jobs? First, our state needs to stop being in the national news over something that embarrasses. HB2 was an embarrassment and was bad legislation. Passing such an unpopular and unnecessary bill was a self-inflicted wound that our state’s Republican party caused, losing us potentially billions in lost revenue. Second, we can continue to focus on being a leader in renewable energy. These budding industries create good paying jobs and have long-term benefits such as lower cost electricity and a cleaner environment. Finally, we can end the government-created internet monopoly here in North Carolina. Allowing municipality ran ISPs will increase competition and, in turn, create good-paying jobs.
   As we grow these previously mentioned sectors, our economy will grow as well. We can grow our economy three ways: more capital, more labor, and higher productivity. My campaign’s policies will be centered around legislation that benefits one of those three things. By doing that, we can ensure that our economy continues to grow, no matter what happens nationwide.
   Finally, a state’s lifeblood is its education system. The leaders of tomorrow are in our schools now. That is why we should remove the waiting list for Pre-K. Any parent that wants to send their kid to the valuable program, should be able to do so. We should raise teacher’s pay to the national average and ramp up the number of teacher’s aides. This will allow our state to attract and keep the best talent, and ensure that their talent is amplified through the teacher’s assistants. Thus, providing our kids the best education. Additionally, we need to push for more apprenticeship programs that team local businesses with their schools. This will provide students great job skills and help them be prepared to enter the workforce. Enacting education policies such as these will make North Carolina stronger by having a diverse educated workforce. This will make us more resilient to recessions.
   If these are the types of policies that you would like to see enacted, then please, help our campaign out by donating or volunteering today. Also, if you can tell just one other person (or more!) this week about our campaign then we can start growing this grassroots campaign.

Why I Can Win

So, this week I found out that I will have a primary challenger. I had suspected and heard that I would face someone, so I wasn’t shocked. I actually look forward to a great primary and hope that my opponent and I can end up making each other better candidates. If we do that, then we can make sure that the Democratic candidate will win in November. So, why do I think I am the best candidate and why can I win?

Several factors contribute to my ability to win. First, I understand what most of my future constituents go through on a daily basis. I have never been rich, I work an 8-5 job, and I have to budget where every penny of my paychecks go. Nothing has ever been given to me and I fight every day to better myself. It is because of that drive that I entered myself back into college in early 2016. Like many of you reading this, I get how hard that daily life can be.

Second, I know what it is like to struggle. In 2008, I was working in a great corporate job and maneuvering my way up the corporate ladder. When the economy crashed in the financial crisis, my company was forced to make tough decisions and lay off workers to stay afloat. I was one of those who was not vital to staying in business, so I was let go. I was crushed. However, I didn’t stay down too long. I utilized my time on unemployment to teach myself a new skill – becoming a personal trainer. I lost about 50 pounds and earned my personal training certification. That is the type of grit and determination that I will put into winning the House seat.

Finally, the reason I can win and I am the best candidate is because I am a “recovering Republican”. Until 2008, I was a Republican. It was my struggles during that recession that allowed me to see the good that government can do and the negative impact unchecked powerful corporations can have on our daily lives. I understand where the other side is coming from many times. As society has built echo chambers on social media and our legislative districts have been disgustingly gerrymandered causing on the most polar of candidates wins, we have forgotten how to talk with each other. I want to move past the left and right and do what is best for my district and my state.

The current Republican General Assembly members are illustrating what happens when you only concentrate on retaining party power and not listening to what your constituents really want and need. They have forgotten how to be innovative with policy and have forgotten what is important. If the Democrats can break their super majority and start forcing them to compromise, understanding their motivations will be vital. I am confident that in 2018 the Democrats will break the supermajority. Finding our commonality and moving away from the extremes will allow the constituents and state to be more prosperous.

What Amazon Wants Is How We Should Plan

In its request for proposals for its second headquarters, Amazon said it’s looking for a metro area with at least 1 million residents, proximity to an international airport, mass transit, quality higher education, an educated workforce, a business-friendly environment and amenities that give it “the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.”

Now Amazon is set to pick the area sometime in 2018, so no policies that I would try to get passed would be applicable. However, I do feel it is important to see what a company that is planning to create around 50,000 jobs is looking for so we can make sure our policy matches their goals. If we are to want to land other opportunities such as these, then likely those future companies will be looking for similar things. So let’s go through what policy might look like for some of these.

  • Mass transit – Many of our larger cities rank as some of the worst cities for mass transit. From a state legislative perspective, providing these cities with sufficient backing for these projects will benefit us all.
  • Educated workforce – The key to an educated workforce is to have great public schools. Ensuring that we are staying competitive on teacher pay so that we are attracting top talent is vital to our school’s success.
  • Amenities to attract talent – Tech companies want fast internet. Our current government regulations stifle competition. The more competition we have, the better service we will have.

These are just a few things we could be doing with our legislation instead of trying to find ways to twist the system to hold on to power as the party currently in power has. If elected, these are the types of policies you could expect to see happen.

The Attack On Our Judiciary

The General Assembly Republican’s have instituted many appalling laws as of late. However, I find none as frightening as the attack that they have levied at our independent judiciary.

For those that have not been keeping up with their last shenanigans, the Republicans first decided to move our judicial elections from non-partisan to partisan. NC is now the first state in nearly 100 years to move from nonpartisan to partisan elections for judges. We are going in a wrong direction here. Judges should be chosen on the way they have ruled, not what party they are members of. Our nation’s founders were clear that they wanted an independent judiciary. Hamilton wrote explicitly about it in the Federalist Papers. Making these elections partisan is removing a barrier to be less independent. These judges will now have to go along with the party or risk being primaried.

Next, the Republicans are trying to gerrymander our judicial districts. Gerrymandering means that you draw the district lines in such a way that it dilutes the opposition vote, thus making your parties vote appear to have more power than it really does. The Republicans are very open about their goals in this respect. They want to be able to control the judiciary so that all their policies that have been overturned due to being unconstitutional, will now get through.

That brings us to the next frightening proposal the Republican’s have made – they want judge races to be held every two years. This move will have to be decided on by the state’s residents in May if the Republicans do move forward on the idea. NO OTHER STATE HAS 2 YEAR TERMS FOR THEIR JUDICIARY. If passed, this will serve their interest in two ways. First, because they are gerrymandering our judicial districts, they can have full control by 2018. Secondly, it will cause the judges to require more money to get elected. That makes them need a favorable view from their party a whole lot more.

The final attack they are making against our judiciary is they are removing the primaries for the judge’s races. This will mean that whatever party serves up the least amount of candidates will likely get the seat. Primaries serve an important function in our democracy. They allow the people to choose who best fits their party. I already don’t like the fact that we have partisan elections for our judges in the first place. However, if the Republicans insist on this, then we need to ensure that we have the most qualified candidate representing our party.

In the Federalist Papers # 78, Hamilton warned us when the judiciary aligns with the legislative or executive branches. He said, “It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.” In other words, the power of the court is limited and we can remain a free people as long as the judiciary remains independent.

I promise that if elected, I will fight to keep our judiciary truly independent.

 

Why I Am Running

I have chosen to run because I feel that I have a unique political view that will translate into being a great representative for District 35. I have been on both sides of the political spectrum and so that allows me to understand fully where the other side is coming from. I don’t feel that either side has a monopoly on great ideas and my policy will represent what I feel is the most common sense approach. Our politics have grown so polar that we tune the other side out now. Social media amplifies every voice and we surround ourselves in an echo chamber. We no longer have rational conversations and any talk of compromise is viewed as being weak. That is not the principles that our country was founded on and it is time that we get back to a sense of normality. Our democracy depends on it!

Another reason I am running is that I am tired of reading a national news source and seeing how our General Assembly has instituted a policy that embarrasses us on the national stage. Bills such as HB2 have no helpful agenda for us North Carolinians and only seek to divide us. We need to return our General Assembly back to agenda that seeks to raise North Carolinians up and solve our actual issues – not made up issues that are only created for political gains.

 

On The Campaign Trail