North Carolina State Senate District 1
North Carolina State Senate District 1 – The election contest is between D. Cole Phelps, Democrat, and Bob Steinburg, Republican.
D. Cole Phelps
Attorney, Professor, County Commissioner
Mailing Address: 106 E. Water St., Plymouth, NC 27928
Contact Phone: (252) 394-6611
Facebook: Bob Steinburg
What makes you the best candidate for this office?
Phelps: I was born and raised in Northeastern North Carolina, educated in the public schools and universities of this state, I own a business in Northeastern North Carolina, I teach at a state-supported university, and I have served in local government. Based on this foundation, I have a deep and personal understanding of the needs of our community. First and foremost, we need a voice in Raleigh who will represent all the people in the district, not only a select few.
Steinburg: From my early days in the State House I’ve focused on job growth throughout the region. I led the effort to attract new manufacturing and processing jobs by partnering the state with the Virginia Port Authority’s Port of Norfolk and expanding the Foreign Trade Zone status to include Northeastern North Carolina.
I have never backed down from the opportunity to defend our community’s values, because the good people of Northeastern North Carolina deserve nothing less. I’m happy to stand with them for common sense measures like voter ID and a fiscally responsible governing philosophy.
What are your top 3 legislative priorities for the next two years?
Phelps: My first priority is public education. I am a first generation college graduate, so I know personally how much of a difference a great public education can make. Another key priority is health care. Costs are too high, and in many rural communities across NENC, skilled providers are too far away, and the number of providers is decreasing. Finally, improving our local economy is a top priority. We need to attract more businesses that provide full time, year round jobs with good pay and benefits.
Steinburg: The economy, schools, and prison reform – by insisting on fiscal discipline, we’ve fueled job and wage growth while cutting taxes and saving for emergencies. The best help we can provide students is directing education funds to the classroom. I’ve increased education funding every year, with half of all new state spending going directly to K-12. I’ve pushed corrections leadership to improve the resources available for officers & fought for expanded death benefits and pay raises.
How would you rate the quality of public education in NC currently?
Steinburg: Above average
If you rate it less than excellent, what proposals would you support to improve it?
Phelps: North Carolina currently ranks 37th in teacher pay. As a small business owner, I know that if you want to attract the best talent, you need to offer competitive pay. Our students deserve the best, and if we don’t address this problem, our best teachers will leave for other states. Additionally, I support a statewide school construction bond to help counties renovate or build new school facilities, which would provide funding without raising taxes. I also support reforms that would lessen emphasis and reliance on over-testing and towards progress toward benchmarks throughout the year.
Steinburg: When I first ran, I pledged to challenge the bureaucratic status quo and empower teachers in the classroom. I remain committed to this approach. We’ve cut back on paperwork, reduced the testing burden on students, and connected every school to high-speed broadband – the first state in the country to do so! We can help prepare our students by strengthening our partnership with businesses to provide job-training skills. The Future-Ready Students Act enabled high school students to receive academic credit for pursuing career certifications and credentials. This law also creates business advisory councils to identify workforce needs and improve training in local schools.
What accountability should be required of schools receiving public funding?
Phelps: All schools receiving public funding should be held to the same standards of accountability, particularly including private, charter and religious schools, which are not now required to account for the expenditures of funds received.
Steinburg: Parents and students deserve schools that are preparing kids for the jobs of the next century. I’ve passed performance-based pay raises and implemented a master-teacher program, so the best teachers would be rewarded and stay in the classroom.
What do you propose to enhance job creation in NC?
Phelps: Northeastern North Carolina needs a legislator working to attract and retain good businesses and to foster innovation and business startups, including new businesses such as information technology, agricultural innovation, entertainment and media, and tourism. The state needs to invest in our infrastructure, including high-speed broadband internet, roads, bridges, rail, and ferries.
Steinburg: I know we can do more to grow jobs by pushing state government to find efficiencies so we can cut taxes again. I believe taxpayers know best how to spend their money, and their investment in the economy will fuel growth better than increasing bureaucrats in Raleigh. The way to keep our economy growing is to insist on fiscal responsibility, to add job-training programs to education, and to invest in needed infrastructure, like the coming Interstate 87 which connects Raleigh to Norfolk.
How do you rate the environmental quality of NC’s air, water, and land?
Phelps: Below average
Steinburg: Above average
If your rating was less than excellent, what policies would you support to improve them?
Phelps: I support ensuring that the NC DEQ has the authority and resources to protect our air, water, and land quality through both proactive measures to keep our communities clean, and through quick reaction to accidents or violations. Conservation of natural resources for the health and welfare of our citizens should not be sacrificed in every case for private profit, and our state government needs a culture change to establish this principle.
Steinburg: I’ve been named a “Champion of Clean Energy” because of my support for innovations that make us less dependent on foreign oil, lower costs for consumers, and create local jobs. Renewable energy is a win-win for our environment and our economy!
What is the best way to handle the redistricting process in 2021 and why.
Phelps: I support an independent, non-partisan commission to lead the redistricting process. Its job should be to create fair districts so the voters can make their voice heard, not to protect parties or incumbents. Politicians should not be able to hand-pick their voters.
Steinburg: North Carolina’s redistricting process is one of the most complex in the country because of our whole-county provision in the state constitution. Independent redistricting commissions are not immune from partisan leanings or constant legal uncertainty. The courts should make the constitutional provisions clear from the start, so voters aren’t perpetually changing their districts.
How do you rate NC’s cyber and public works infrastructure?
Phelps: Below average
If you rated it less than excellent, what policies would you support to improve it? How would you fund them?
Phelps: There is no one way to improve the state’s cyber and public works infrastructure, and I support innovative thinking and investing. For instance, some rural municipalities have invested in providing their own high-speed broadband internet services when private providers were not interested in extending service to their area. The legislature has attempted to interfere in these efforts. Public/private partnerships have been tried with mixed success, as in the I-77 toll road.
Steinburg: We should continue to modernize our infrastructure, which is why I supported the Connect NC bonds which authorized spending $2 billion in economic development and infrastructure projects across the state.
How do we protect the integrity of our elections in NC?
Phelps: Use paper ballots to maintain a physical record. Require disclosure of donors by any organization who sponsors political ads. Expand early voting and block photo ID requirements to ensure all citizens have easy and equal access to vote.
Steinburg: We need a voter ID amendment to our constitution. It is the foundation of preventing voter fraud, supported by an overwhelming majority of voters, and a common sense reform that will bring our state in line with more than 30 others who have a voter ID requirement.