By Jackson Sveen
Three candidates vie for an opportunity to represent District 9 in the House of Representatives, as Sue Myrick, the office holder since 1995, is retiring at the end of this term.
Curtis Campbell, the libertarian candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 9 race, faced off with current Mecklenburg County Commissioner and democratic candidate, Jennifer Roberts, at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce sponsored candidate forum. Robert Pittenger, the republican candidate did not attend the forum due to scheduling conflicts.
The forum began with a topic on every voters mind: the current economy. Both candidates were asked what tax cuts they would allow to expire in the upcoming fiscal year.
Roberts spoke first, defending certain tax cuts that are essential for protecting the middle class and creating jobs. Increasing exports and creating incentives to help create future jobs were parts of Roberts suggested solutions to our suffering economy.
“We want to look at being smarter with the resources we have before we look at drastic cuts,” Roberts said.
“As a libertarian,” Campbell said, “I might have an little bit easier way of answering this. We cut spending and cut government.”
The government is too big and that instead of tax cuts, the country needs tax reform, Campbell explained.
While Campbell argued to cut spending to all government departments, both candidates agreed that defense spending should be cut and troops should be brought back the U.S.
Transportation on I 77
Traveling on Interstate 77 can be a bear at times, which some planners propose to fix by widening and adding toll lanes.
Candidates presented ways to deal with the traffic problem in the Lake Norman area.
Campbell said that balancing the budget would free up funds to go toward transportation, including the widening I-77.
But Campbell spoke against the red line light rail project.
“We over estimate the number of people that actually use the rail system and costs way more money than we estimated.”
Roberts disagreed with Campbell, saying the light rail in Charlotte has been a benefit, not a burden, to the community.
“It costs less per mile than widening Independence, but it also removes people from the congestion, it improves air quality, it is one of the models in our country on how light rails work,” Roberts said.
Small Business and Tax Codes
Both candidates were asked what changes they would make to the tax code to help promote business.
Roberts agreed that the tax code is a problem and loopholes should be eliminated.
Roberts also said that boosting exports by reducing regulation would help promote small businesses.
Campbell suggested ending all subsidies and implementing the Fair Tax.
“If we really want to create jobs, we need to stop worrying about the tax code, and let’s just implement the Fair Tax and get rid of the IRS,” Campbell said.
Helping victims of domestic abuse.
Candidates were asked about their own specific accomplishments to support victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and child abuse.
Never having served in the political arena, Campbell spoke about his experiences as a nurse and his opportunities to work around those who have been involved in tragedies.
Roberts spoke more specifically about her role as County Commissioner and her experiences implementing programs that support victims of domestic abuse. While in office, Roberts said the commission moved domestic violence up in their priorities list and provide more resources.
Roberts also lead the campaign for a new domestic violence shelter to open in December.
Requiring ID for voters?
In a question relating current events, the candidates were asked about their thoughts on South Carolina’s laws to require voters to show ID to vote and what they think we should do here in North Carolina.
Roberts does not support the requirement of ID for people wanting to vote, stating that thousands of citizens would be disenfranchised if North Carolina enforced such a law.
Roberts stated that of the 80,000 people who ride public transportation in Mecklenburg County, 57 percent do not possess driver’s licenses, including people without cars and elderly who do not drive.
Campbell stated that he believed in states rights and not federal legislation requiring photo ID to vote.
Campbell cited the situation in Florida, where residents are required to have an ID to vote, but were given the opportunity to get a voter ID free of charge from the state.
Undocumented workers and immigration laws
Roberts feels that too much time is spent on illegal immigration instead of focusing on legal immigration that would benefit businesses.
“We should have an immigration policy that works for business,” Roberts said. “I have talked to companies, I have talked to farmers, who absolutely knows their workforce needs some folks who might have talent (and) might have been born in a different country.”
Roberts stated that there is a need to enforce U.S. borders, but fears the 20 million persons gap in the American workforce as the baby boomers age.
Campbell emphasized his support to “greatly, greatly increasing” the number of immigrants allowed in the country.
“Illegal immigrants are not the issue, getting to this country legally is the issue…we have had huge economic booms from millions of people coming to this country, wanting to get a job and enjoying the freedom that we have.”