Tessa Wood, Staff Writer
February 19, 2016
The Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, giving millions of Americans access to affordable health insurance. What people do not know is that Massachusetts laid the groundwork for the ACA through statewide health care reform years before.
“Most people don’t pay any attention to politics at all, local or national,” said Professor of Political Science Ken Gilmore. “The little political news they receive (other than from friends) is from television or radio, which focuses overwhelmingly on national news.”
Like the ACA, many federal and national issues begin at the state level, but most people pay little to no attention. State-level politics affect citizens’ daily lives, yet many know nothing about it.
“You should be equally aware of state politics as you are of national politics,” said sophomore Ian Kratzke.
With the North Carolina primaries coming up March 15, a lot is happening locally that pertains directly to citizens within the state, especially college-aged individuals. Four of the most influential local elections this season are the gubernatorial race, the 12th and 6th District representative races and the senatorial race.
“The controversy surrounding McCrory is dealing with education,” said Rebecca Johnson-Kaserman, teacher of civics at The Early College at Guilford. “The unseating of Tom Ross as UNC system president … (is a) very unpopular move and very politically motivated.”
Pat McCrory, the current governor, is running for reelection and has a very solid stance regarding education. His actions have been controversial.
McCrory’s financial plan regarding education in the state has involved tightening budgets, something that has already begun impacting colleges and universities, including Guilford College. In 2012, NC state legislators cut $2.2 million from Guilford’s student financial aid budget.
“Have you ever wondered why your local high school has to run a bake sale to buy new textbooks?” said Gilmore. “Or why your art teacher just lost her job? Or why you see families living on donated food? These are the ‘quiet catastrophes’ that Mario Cuomo spoke about years ago. Budget cuts at the state level have hit local communities hard.”
McCrory is facing competition from Republican primary opponents C. Robert Brawley and Charles Moss, Democrats Roy Cooper and Ken Spaulding and Libertarian Lon Cecil.
Currently, according to Public Policy Polling, McCrory is sitting at 40 percent, slightly behind favored Democratic candidate Cooper.
“If the state goes Democratic this November, Burr will be in trouble as will McCrory,” said Gilmore.
Richard Burr, also running for reelection, has served five terms in the House and is currently in his second term in the Senate. He has managed to maintain a relatively low profile throughout all his terms.
He has a sizable lead over Republican primary opponents Greg Brannon, Larry Holmquist and Paul Wright. Democratic opponents Kevin Griffin, Deborah Ross, Chris Rey and Ernest Reeves are not doing any better. Libertarian opponent Sean Haugh also trails Burr.
Even more local is the congressional representative race.
“The 12th District is being pulled apart by socioeconomics and race,” said Johnson-Kaserman.
Alma Adams is running to represent the 12th District once again and is facing trouble with a U.S. district court’s decision that the district was gerrymandered. Now, the area must be redrawn before the election in March.
“Adams was not responsible for her gerrymandered district,” said Gilmore. “That was the work of Republicans. Adams is quite open about what she has called the ‘stacking and packing of African-Americans’ into a few districts in the state.”
Another issue surrounding the local elections this season is the N.C. voter ID law that is going to be executed for the first time.
“There are two sides: one side stating it is the state being responsible by stopping voter fraud, and the other side saying it is voter oppression,” said Johnson-Kaserman.
The law is potentially going to impact many people, including college students and lower-income voters.
“It was put into place to suppress the minority,” said junior Jonathan Wilkinson.
Senior Eva Sutton agreed.
“It definitely seems like it was put into place to give white people the loudest voice,” she said.
With the primaries a month away, it is important for Guilford students to begin considering candidates and understanding the issues that could affect them in the years to come.