Under the Dome: The top issues lieutenant governor candidates want to address in NC

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Hello and welcome to your Under the Dome newsletter. Avi Bajpai here.

The lieutenant governor in North Carolina doesn’t have too many powers, but the office does provide its occupant an influential bully pulpit.

Lieutenant governors serve as president of the state Senate, which means they can preside over the chamber when it is in session, and cast tie-breaking votes. They also sit on the Council of State, and on the state boards of education and community colleges.

Since voters elect governors and lieutenant governors separately, the two highest executive elected offices in the state can have members of the two major parties serving at the same time, as has been the case recently, with Republicans Dan Forest and Mark Robinson serving as lieutenant governor during Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s two terms in office.

The News & Observer sent questionnaires to all 14 candidates — three Democrats and 11 Republicans — running for lieutenant governor in the March 5 primary elections. Ten candidates filled out our questionnaire. As of Feb. 24, Democrat Mark H. Robinson and Republicans Marlenis Hernandez Novoa, Allen Mashburn and Jim O’Neill had not responded.

Among other questions, we asked the candidates what the biggest issue was that they thought they would be able to shape if elected.

Here’s how the candidates answered that question.

The office of the North Carolina lieutenant governor is in the historic Hawkins-Hartness House at 310 N. Blount St., in downtown Raleigh near the Executive Mansion and Legislative Building.
The office of the North Carolina lieutenant governor is in the historic Hawkins-Hartness House at 310 N. Blount St., in downtown Raleigh near the Executive Mansion and Legislative Building.


Ben Clark: I spent five terms in the N.C. Senate in the minority. I still delivered historic budgets, funded HBCUs, added both my regional colleges to NC Promise, eliminated military retirement income tax, expanded Medicaid to new moms and babies, reopened the schools, and drew maps to help break the supermajority and elect seven Democrats to Congress. As lieutenant governor, I will help shape the future of this state, in education, health care, the economy, the environment and by preserving our constitutional and civil rights.

Rachel Hunt: As lieutenant governor, I’ll have a seat on the State Board of Education, where my top priority will be standing up for our children, their families and their teachers. I’ll do this by standing against the current attempt to bankrupt our public schools and by standing against giving public money to fund unproven and unaccountable private schools.


▪ Deanna Ballard: Education and working family needs. I focused relentlessly in the Senate on empowering parents. I helped write the Parents’ Bill of Rights and authored bills championing school choice. In 2020, I went toe-to-toe with Roy Cooper and Mandy Cohen to order the schools reopened. I support economic policies that focus on skills training and don’t center on a college education. Too many students take on crushing student loan debt — and for what? Often, a job that pays less than “blue collar” work.

Peter Boykin: Everything boils down to infrastructure, education and jobs: In my position I could engage between We the People and the government that is supposed to be their representation to push for improvements that benefit everyone.

Rivera Douthit: Education.

Jeffrey Elmore: Workforce development.

Sam Page: Public safety is my number one concern. As a career law enforcement officer and sheriff, I know what it takes to keep people safe. I will prioritize the safety of all our citizens as your next lieutenant governor by leading the charge on statewide and nationwide task forces to secure the border, end drug and human trafficking, and stop illegal immigration, which will keep all our citizens safe.

Ernest T. Reeves: Immigration security and jobs.

Hal Weatherman: I will work to make individuals and our state government self-sufficient and dependent on no one else.

Seth Woodall: As the next lieutenant governor, I look forward to tackling issues related to education, including those facing our students, teachers and parents. Our educators should have one agenda — that our children learn with intensity, and live with integrity. Further, we must implement policy and legislative changes to ensure equality in teacher pay throughout our state. Further, we need to work to strengthen the Parents’ Bill of Rights and school choice.

That’s all for today. Check your inbox Tuesday for more #ncpol news.