Round II - First Question - What would you do to alleviate poverty in this state?
Smathers - two things are related to poverty - Education and Jobs. We've talked about jobs already. Education: for too long we have become Raleigh centric in our thinking about Education. Schools need to be accountable to our communities. That's right, but folks, we need to have communities accountable to our schools. Do you have an education foundation? Are you providing supplements to draw teachers.
We don't need quick fixes fom Raleigh. School problems are called by lack of stability in home, lack of income, and lack of parental involvement in education.
Raising school ages won't solve that problem. (Direct shot at Dellinger).
Dellinger - education key in the long term. But we need to continue to raise minimum wage, expand EITC, pay the living wage at state level and press contractors to do so. Serious issue with home foreclosures. Need to turn to banks and ask them to do their part. Targeted and temporary tax relief to deal with revaluations going up while home values actually dropping.
Serious problem also with student debt. College students in North Carolina were promised an education as free as practicable. We have to make good on that promise.
Healthcare - higher quality and lower prices.
Child care subsidy wait list must be worked through.
No disagreement about education being a priority. TIME
Dalton - I believe in a bubble up economy. Build prosperity. Educational opportunity is key.
Always fought for full funding of education (said asomething about a specific policy - I missed it, sorry)
Learn and Earn program - I led that charge.
I led the floor fight against the Republicans to get a minimum wage increase and to index it.
Need to expand home protection pilot that I put in place.
Besse - One of the things you learn from working outside of Raleigh beltway is that there are serious problems that people dont want to talk about. Too many of our young people are being sent to prison, and when they come back nothing is done to reintegrate them. Must boost reentry programs.
Better job with job training and development in rural counties through regionally based ED.
(CROWD IS REALLY THINNING OUT NOW. THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING EVIDENTLY THEY ONLY WERE REQUIRED TO STAY FOR AN HOUR)
QUESTION FIVE - How will you appeal to all North Carolinians after a primary that is running to the left?
Smathers - I dont think it is running to the left. These are traditional values. If we empower local goverment to deal with these issues to free up our state government to deal with statewide issues like court system, universities, mental health. Let local take care of the environment, home, etc. That's not liberal, that's good government.
(Ed. Note - not sure I agree the environment is best protected at local level. Jobs jobs jobs tends to drive local issues)
Dellinger - a majority of North Carolinians support Roe v. Wade, opposed new coal power plants, support fairness and equality. Even if I am wrong, although I dont think I am, people will overlook disagreeing with a candidate if that candidate has core values and is consistent and not trying to be on both sides of an issue.
I think voters will appreciate my consistency and my record. I know they'll appreciate my plans and proposals. Like my senior program that the Wilmington Star praised as the best plan available.
Also need to know which person has the experience to be a heartbeat away from the governorship. I know that none of the Republicans have worked in the Executive branch the way I have.
Dalton - I'll run it the way I have run and won six senate elections. They know I am not an idealogue. I work with others. Common sense and good judgment.
They know I have worked across party lines to expand educational opprtunity (like the science and technology project here at FSU) (Ed Note - THIRD MENTION OF THIS, SENATOR, MOVE ALONG)
They have seen me work and they know my record. That's why I have been successful for six terms. It is critical that Democrats continue to hold the Lt. Gov seat. I am the only one here with experience making laws to move NC forward. I will keep Dems in power.
Besse - Pat's right. We're not running to the left. But by the time the right wing smear machine gets done with us, you own't recognize us. So you have to be able to compete and win and show the voters that we have a personal public record to refute reidiculous charges. Real world hands on experience outside of Raleigh. If you don't have that experience the smears will work. i have that experience. Moderate record on taxes. opposed property tax increases and flat rate charges. I have experience in culturally conservative rural eastern NC. I have proven it. I have been elected and reelected as a progressive in a Republican leaning area.
END OF FIRST HOUR. 10 minute intermission. I'll keep going on this post.
At this point it is pretty clear that all the candidates are well prepared for tonight. Dellinger has definitely gotten under Dalton's skin, and it is showing in Dalton's testiness in his early responses. Hard to believe he didn't expect to have his record picked apart. But it seems he didn't.
I think Besse is doing well, though his comment about supporting the Navy when they get here should go over like a lead balloon in Eastern NC.
Smathers has been funny and consistent, but as expressed above, I have serious doubts that local government can do everything he wants it to. And if it can, why run for statewide office?
Hampton has been consistent and aggressive without being overbearing. His point that Democrats can get elected being Democrats is very important. You can run on solid Democratic issues as long as you are consistent. And he is. He also had a very good point that Roe v. Wade is being undermined in the Supreme Court and will likely return to the state level. You want a consistent proponent of a woman's reproductive rights to be in the second highest policy making position in the State government. People don't mind disagreeing with you if they know where you stand on important issues - they want honesty and consistency.
PART III -- They've asked the candidates to hide their notes. Clean notepads only.
Audience questions now.
QUESTION ONE - from William Mung of Fayetteville - What do you see as the biggest challenge in NC and how would you address it?
Besse - Has to be exploding growth. 9 million to 12 million in 30 years. moving South Carolina to North Carolina in 30 years. Will exacerbate every problem. Accellerate land loss, water resource problems. Education needs. More stress on equity.
Need to be smart about how we meet these challenges.
Dalton - Excellent answer. I agree. Exacerbates everything. Wake County growing at 50,000 ppl per year, Mecklenburg is the same.
Also, adjusting to the global economy. More children will take the SAT in Beijing next year than in the US. India and China graduating more engineers.
I think we are preparing for that. Mentioned the science and technology center again. Need to build this out to rural areas.
Good news is we are attractive. Great education system. TIME
Dellinger - challenge is what I mentioned in my opening. We have done an amazing thing becoming a great state for business. Challenge is to extend that across the board. We do that and it comes back to the economy. Money magazine mentioned our health care system as a strength. Governor worries about the next day. The Lt. Gov has time to worry about the long view. When it gets down to it, you have to be on the side of the folks the Democratic party has always represented. have to ask the folks who do well to do more. In the toughest budget we have faced in my lifetime in 2001. I believe we needed to ask the wealthy to do more, not cut education. There's a difference here on that. Glad I prevailed.
Smathers - I agree. That;s the issue - growth. How do we deal with it? Local leadership statewide. It;s your teachers and local boards addressing these issues. Have to empower them. Leave statewide issues to Raleigh. Repeats list of state issues. Give power to the communities.
Issue isn;t the problem, it's what to do to fix it.
When my town was destroyed I was there. I've dealt with real problems. It's real life. Not just talk.