Stein stumps for votes

Published 4:18 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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AHOSKIE – With the General Election less than six months away, those seeking local, state, and federal office are ramping up their campaigns by meeting voters face-to-face.

Such was the case here Tuesday afternoon when Josh Stein spent roughly one hour in Ahoskie on a campaign visit to parts of eastern North Carolina.

Stein, currently in his second term as North Carolina’s elected Attorney General, is aspiring to climb the political ladder by seeking the office of Governor.

The 57-year-old graduate of Harvard Law School, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Dartmouth College touched on several issues in front of a crowd gathered inside the Ahoskie Youth Center.

Standing in front of a crowd gathered inside the Ahoskie Youth Center, Josh Stein outlines the reasons why he is seeking the office of Governor. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Stein called the state’s current national ranking of 49th when it comes to funding K-12 public schools a “disgrace.”

He also called for the state to move forward with a transition to clean energy that will reduce carbon emissions and create jobs.

Stein labeled the GOP’s supermajority in the NC House and the NC Senate efforts to strip women of their reproductive freedom as “wrong” and “backwards.”

“It is on us to defend our home and fight for our people,” Stein stressed. “That’s what I’ve done for the past seven and one-half years as your Attorney General, fighting for the people of North Carolina.”

He talked about his fight against opioids, saying it was heartbreaking to see the loss of life connected to the “dreaded disease of addiction.”

“[North Carolina] led a bipartisan coalition of state attorney generals to take the opioid drug companies to court and we’re winning…more than $50 billion to help people struggling with addiction have a healthier and happier future,” Stein said.

He pointed to another of his priorities as the State Attorney General, fighting for survivors of sexual assault.

“Last month we announced we’ve ended the backlog of untested rape kits in our state,” Stein stated. “Now we’re solving cold cases and delivering justice for victims and make our communities safer.”

Stein said he is also fighting to end gerrymandering, the age-old process manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency so as to favor one political party.

“In our democracy, the people should choose their representatives, not the other way around,” he noted.

Stein stressed the reasons why he chose to seek the office of Governor.

“I believe in the promise of North Carolina, where if you work hard, where you come from should never limit how far you can go,” he said. “Our kids and grandkids should enjoy a better and brighter future than we’ve had. That every person in this state has a fair shot at prosperity. We have to build our economy from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.”

He promoted “tackling the high cost of living, especially housing” by raising the state’s minimum wage, which at $7.25 per hour has not changed in the past 16 years.

Stein spoke of a working families tax cut to put more money in the pockets of those employed, lift families and children out of poverty, and stimulate the local economy.

Returning to the subject of education, Stein was hopeful that high school students, upon graduation, would choose to go to college.

“But college isn’t a path for everybody, that’s why expanding career technical education in high school and community colleges is important,” he said.

“Also, it’s long past time that teachers get a real pay raise in our state,” Stein added, saying that North Carolina ranks 46th nationally in starting salary for teachers. “We want to get great teachers in our classrooms and keep great teachers in our classrooms.”

Stein was among those who have pushed for years to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, which just recently came into effect

“Already, 450,000 of our citizens have healthcare that they didn’t have before,” he observed. “And access to healthcare includes access to reproductive healthcare. As your next governor, I will veto any further restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom.”

Among the questions Stein fielded from the audience was one about how to improve mental health offerings.

“Medicaid expansion can help with that,” he answered. “But we’ve still got to do better with our mental health system and our substance abuse disorder treatments.”

Another local resident asked about racial discrimination and voter suppression during elections.

“As Attorney General, I can’t support a law that is discriminating against a Black person’s ability to vote and participate in our elections to the same degree as white people,” Stein said.

During a one-on-one interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Stein was asked why the 2024 election, as politicians across a broad spectrum are saying, is the most important one of our lifetime?

“The choice for voters across North Carolina could not be clearer, what kind of future do we want to have in this state,” he said. “I want the state to be forward-looking and inclusive where we tap the full potential of every person. We can all thrive and live in safe communities with an economy that works for everybody.

“My opponent is divisive. He wants to drag our state backwards with job-killing culture wars that take away people’s personal freedoms,” Stein added.

When asked to rank his top three priorities if elected Governor, Stein noted a balanced economy, strong public schools, and safe neighborhoods and communities.

The final question dealt with Stein, if elected, working in unison with Republicans in the event the GOP’s supermajority remains intact in the NC House and NC Senate.

“I’m not only up for election in November, so are all 170 members [combined in the House and Senate],” he remarked. “I want folks to support me for Governor, but we also need to break that supermajority of Republicans in the General Assembly in order for us to have balance. When one party has too much power, it usually goes too far in one direction.

“But even if the Republicans maintain their majority, I’ve already proven that I can work with them on important issues, such as the opioid crisis, untested rape kits, and child sex abuse. These are things we have done together and I will work with them on the priorities that matter to people in their daily lives,” Stein concluded.

Prior to becoming the State Attorney General (first elected in 2016), Stein served four terms in the North Carolina Senate where he represented the 16th District.

He and his wife Anna live in Raleigh and have three children.

In November’s General Election, Stein will face North Carolina’s current Lt. Governor Mark Robinson in the race for Governor.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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