Current N.C. House Rep. Jonathan Jordan (Republican)and former N.C. House Rep. Cullie Tarleton (Democrat) and have been locked in a heated race to represent District 93 in the N.C. House of Representatives. Questions were submitted to both candidates about some of the issues important to Ashe County voters.
1. Biography: County of residence, career, spouse and children.
Jonathan Jordan: I am a local attorney in Jefferson that focuses on real estate, estate planning, wills, and traffic issues. My wife is Tracie McMillan Jordan, the district administrator for Guardian ad Litem (representing children in DSS custody due to allegations of abuse or neglect). I live just outside West Jefferson, with our two children, Landon, a first-grader at Westwood Elementary, and Lily Grace, who will start kindergarten next fall.
Cullie Tarleton: I reside in Blowing Rock and I am a retired broadcaster. My wife’s name is Sylvia, and we have three adult children and six grandchildren.
2. Do you favor the N.C. Pre-K program? Explain.
Jonathan Jordan: I do favor pre-K programs that show definite long-term positive results. If such a program can help at-risk children in the long-term, then it is a legitimate and valid investment to be made by our state and local government. I have concerns about the unchecked expansion of these programs without linking them to strong performance results and the expansion of eligibility criteria without clear definitions of “at-risk.”
Cullie Tarleton: I do favor the N.C. Pre-K program. Early childhood education is critical if we’re ever going to get disadvantaged children on an equal footing with their peers. I think national columnist Nicholas Kristof said it best. He said, “The single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education. The reason early childhood education is important is that you build a foundation for school success and success breeds success. A good education tends to be the most reliable escalator out of poverty. Disadvantaged kids often don’t get a change to board that escalator.” Unfortunately, this legislature cut Smart Start and N.C. Pre K by $104 million and failed to meet the conditions set out by a federal judge who ruled that their cuts violated the state constitution.
3. How can Ashe County and North Carolina grow?
Jonathan Jordan: Ashe County and North Carolina will grow when private sector job creators have confidence that our state is no longer one of the highest among our neighbors in tax rates of all kinds. When job creators see that we focus regulations on true health and safety issues, and have begun to prune back needless and burdonsome regulations, they will have the incentive to invest in our economy. As we continue to focus our education resources on the classroom, and not the bureaucracy, as well as strengthening vocational education and technical certifications, job creators will have confidence that our work force will continue to improve. Our government cannot pick and choose winners and losers in the business environment, because invariably, government is a poor investor and will make poor market decisions.
Cullie Tarleton: One of the best ways for Ashe County to grow is for us to get U.S. 221 from Deep Gap to West Jefferson four-laned. When former state senator Steve Goss and I first got to the legislature, that project was number eight on the priority list. We got it moved up to number one. If funding can remain in place, that project should get underway in the next year or so and will work wonders in opening access to Ashe County. Money that Steve and I got for the airport that’s resulting in runway extensions right now will also help Ashe grow. For N.C. and the district, I have a three-part jobs plan that I’ll introduce legislation for the first week of the new session. It’ll give N.C. companies first crack at state and local contracts and reward companies that hire N.C. workers. Let’s return jobs to N.C. by using N.C. resources first.
4. What is the best way to provide North Carolina’s citizens with affordable health insurance?
Jonathan Jordan: In the short term, we should avoid Obamacare (I voted for H2 which would have protected North Carolina citizens from federal insurance mandates, but our governor in her wisdom vetoed that attempt to protect North Carolinians) and focus on allowing private insurers to do business across state lines so there is more choice and flexibility for citizens among health insurance plans. In the long term, we should begin taking stock of our healthcare system overall and consider focusing more on prevention, for example, in order to bring costs down.
Cullie Tarleton: The potential for a health care crisis in N.C. is huge. Should the Affordable Healthcare Act go away, N.C. will have over a million and a half people without insurance which could well cost taxpayers as much as $1.8 billion; 60 percent of these folks are the working poor. Our Medicaid budget is $3 billion, of which 80 percent of which 17 percent is used by the disabled and the elderly (not welfare moms). I think there are four steps we need to take to increase state access to health care. The first step is to increase expansion of Community Care of North Carolina. The second step is to increase prevention of the four diseases that eat 80 percent of the total health care cost. We need to work to keep these diseases out of the ER. They are congestive heart failure, cardiac disease, hypertension and diabetes/obesity. The third step is to change mental health access, and the fourth step is to continue working on fraud and abuse prevention.