#schoolsafety | 2020 Election: Adam Ericson (D), running for House District 20 [Free read]

Adam Ericson is running for House District 20 against Representative Ted Davis. (Port City Daily photo/Adam Ericson)

SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — Democrat Adam Ericson is running to serve House District 20.

The public educator will appear on the ballot against Republican Representative Ted Davis, who is running for his fifth term.

Early voting is underway. Same-day registration is available during the early voting period, which ends Oct. 31. Election day is Nov. 3. Check your voter registration and county elections office to confirm polling locations, dates, and hours.

Port City Daily emailed all candidates the below questionnaire and will run their responses ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Port City Daily edited responses for spelling and grammatical errors only.

Port City Daily (PCD): How would you grade Governor Roy Cooper’s response to the pandemic (A-F)? Did the state’s executive branch overstep its authority or are you comfortable with actions taken to protect public health? What, if anything, do you think should have been done differently?

Adam Ericson (AE): Governor Cooper’s decisive actions to protect public health saved lives and helped control the rampant spread of COVID-19. In the legislature, I plan to work with local officials and Governor Cooper to ensure North Carolinians are aware of the latest medical guidance and efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

A crucial component of this includes a more comprehensive testing strategy, combined with sufficient resources to protect public safety during this crisis. The state legislature needs to prioritize aid to help working North Carolinians through expanded unemployment insurance and loans for small businesses. We need to continue to allow local school boards to decide what in-person schooling looks like, guided principally by public health concerns.

PCD: Do you support the current flexibility given to the state’s elementary schools to reopen, or do you think there should be more concrete recommendations and guidelines? Should this same level of flexibility be extended to all grade levels? 

AE: Gov. Cooper’s decision in July to allow school boards to decide what education looks like this year was the right one. The New Hanover County school board, initially, wisely, opted for distance learning this fall. These are important first steps that will help keep our kids, families, and teachers safer. However, as a teacher and coach, I know these are just the first steps.

While some families and students will be home, there are still janitors, bus drivers, administrators, and teachers whose in-person work will continue to put them, disproportionately, in harm’s way. Now, in the midst of an economic crisis and pandemic, increased funding for testing, medical, and cleaning supplies is an urgent matter of public health and safety. This will is doubly true now that some children are back in schools, and teachers and staff find themselves on the front lines of the pandemic.

PCD: Are you satisfied with the state’s current grant-based film incentive program? Should the state aim to bring back its previous refundable tax credits to entice filmmakers to bring projects back to the region?

AE: No, the state should bring back its previous refundable tax credits to entice filmmakers to bring projects back to the region. My opponent’s inaction on this matter cost Wilmington 4,000 jobs and countless dollars that could have buoyed our local economy.

PCD: Over the past decade, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has lost more than one-third of its funding. Should the state increase funding for DEQ?

AE: Yes. We need to restore DEQ funding and ensure its monitoring program is fully staffed.

PCD: Should the state increase teacher pay? Why or why not?

AE: Yes. The token teacher pay increases some politicians brag about, like my opponent, fail to keep up with inflation or cost of living. It’s insulting to teachers across the state, and robs our children of the education they deserve. Nearly half of teachers leave the profession within 5 years, due to issues like low pay and lack of support.

If we want to restore our once-great public schools to their former reputation, we need to take bold, immediate action. Every day I see us losing ground in the classroom. Every day another child in North Carolina is missing out on a 21st century education.

Since 2011, we have gone from 19th in the nation for school quality and safety to 42nd. That is not what I want for my children or yours. As a public school teacher, I live with the consequences of the choices every day in Raleigh, and so do my students. 

This change begins with basic steps like: Returning back to pre-2011 spending per student and the number of teachers’ aides in schools; prioritizing school funding over corporate tax breaks in our annual budgets; ensuring schools are provided with enough funding for PPE to keep students, teachers, staff and families safe; providing computers and other materials for families can ensure their kids can continue distance learning.

PCD: If elected, what local issues do you plan to advocate for at the state level?

AE: My priorities are:

  1. Holding corporate polluters accountable and keeping our beaches, drinking water, and coastal way of life safe for our children and families.
  2. Improving funding for our public schools so our students get the education they deserve, while keeping them safe and healthy.
  3. Bringing our hard-earned tax dollars back to North Carolina by expanding Medicaid, to ensure better access to health care and better outcomes.
  4. Attracting high-quality employers to our region, we need to prioritize the qualities those employers look for: affordable housing, an educated workforce, public transportation, child care, a healthy environment, and access to public green spaces—everything from ball fields to bike paths should be priorities for a strong, growing community. Population growth expectations make these priorities for attracting both employers and workers by significantly increasing the quality of life in our region.

PCD: If elected, do you plan to advocate for stronger water quality monitoring and contaminant limitations of public drinking water and discharges? If yes, what specific solutions do you think are needed at the state level to address the region’s water quality concerns?

AR: Yes, I plan to advocate for stronger water quality monitoring, and contaminant limitations of public drinking water and discharges. We need to restore DEQ funding and ensure its monitoring program is fully staffed. We need to reduce the current timetable for polluters reporting spills to the state and pass legislation to make them pay for the cost for dumping toxins in our water, not families and taxpayers.

PCD: How would you rate the economic health of southeastern N.C., and what would you like to see happen to strengthen these numbers?

AE: Our once great local economy has been undercut by inaction and bigotry. My opponent’s inaction on film-industry subsidies cost us more than 4,000 jobs. His staunch support of the HB2 bathroom bill to score cheap political points cost North Carolinians their jobs, and ensured major sporting events and conventions took their business elsewhere costing us billions in lost revenue. 

PCD: The N.C. Division of Employment Security was slow to respond to millions of unemployment insurance claims filed this year in response to the pandemic. What would you do to address such a logjam in the face of a future crisis?

AE: We need to properly staff the DES and rebuild the state’s online filing system so that North Carolinians can easily file unemployment insurance claims either online or over the phone.


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