The candidates running in the Senate district 27 race are no strangers to Guilford County. This is the second time voters will see Democrat Michael Garrett going up against incumbent Republican Trudy Wade.
Both Trudy Wade and Michael Garrett are both putting a priority on education, though Garrett said teacher salaries don’t reflect our resources.
“We’re a top 10 state but we’re 37 in what we pay our teachers,” Garrett said.
Nationally, the average salary is around $58,000 and North Carolina is below that.
Wade wants to continue the legislature’s work of increasing salaries.
“We’re trying. You have to balance the budget and you have to juggle all the other departments. But I think every year I’ve been there we’ve worked hard to get a teacher raise,” Wade said. “Every year I’ve been there for the last six years teachers have gotten a raise.”
According to North Carolina public schools, teacher salaries have gone from just under 45,000 to a little more than $51,000 in the past six years.
Garrett said that’s not good enough.
“We are $10,000 below the national average for what we pay our teachers in North Carolina and that is shameful,” Garrett said. “There’s some things that we did like putting in some tax deductions for private jets and yachts, so we can reinvest those dollars and those resources.”
Health care is another big issue and no part of that debate is hotter than North Carolina’s decision to not expand Medicaid.
“One of the first things we need to do when the new general assembly is sworn in is expand Medicaid,” Garrett said.
It doesn’t currently cover all low-income people in the state, leaving a large portion of working class citizens without benefits. Garrett wants to close that gap.
“If we expand Medicaid expansion we not only cover 500,000 people that are denied health care access right now, in the next four years we’ll also create 42,000 jobs.”
Wade said Medicaid expansion is discussed every session.
“And we look at what other states have done and how they’re faring with having expanded Medicaid,” Wade said.
The idea isn’t off the table for the current general assembly, but Wade said more research is necessary.
“If we expand it, then we have to be sure that we can fully fund it because you never know when federal monies will stop,” Wade said.
Lastly, talks of redistricting across the state have ended up in the hands of the judicial system.
“Constitutionally it is the right of the general assembly to draw districts,” Wade said. “All of the districts I’ve ever run in have been pretty evenly matched demographically.”
Garrett argued that the current rules of redistricting are completely biased.
“It really hurts the foundation of the democracy when you have politicians choosing their voters instead of voters choosing their elected representatives,” he said.
Like their particular district, he’s fighting for all maps to be drawn by nonpartisan groups.
For now, voters in the Republican-drawn 27th Senate district have a choice to make between Garrett and Wade.