Senator

There are 11 primary candidates for the office of Senator. There are four Republican candidates, five Democratic candidates, one Libertarian candidate, and one Constitution party candidate.  The candidates are as follows:

Shannon W. Bray (L)
Kevin E. Hayes (C)
Erica D. Smith (D)
Steve Swenson (D)
Cal Cunningham (D)
Trevor M. Fuller (D)
Atul Goel (D)
Thom Tillis (R)
Paul Wright (R)
Larry Holmquist (R)
Sharon Y. Hudson (R)
 
Eight candidates, Kevin E. Hayes (C) Erica D. Smith (D), Steve Swenson (D), Trevor M. Fuller (D), Atul Goel (D), Thom Tillis (R), Paul Wright (R), Larry Holmquist (R), did not respond to our survey, so you will not see them mentioned below.

The primary candidates for the office of Senator were each asked the following questions:

Question 1: What are your top three priorities?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

To listen to constituents concerns and address them to the best of my ability.

To provide outstanding constituent services. I work for you!

To use my knowledge of infrastructure funding to prevent the use of public-private partnerships, which involve long contracts that take control of assets already paid for by taxpayers for long periods, sometimes 50 years or more, and because of the structure, are often rife with corruption and graft.

Cal Cunningham (D)

Healthcare cost and access: I will fight to strengthen and extend coverage under the ACA.

Economy opportunity: I will fight to rein in higher education costs, raise the minimum wage, ensure equal pay, and oppose tax policies that only benefit the wealthiest.

Climate change: North Carolina has seen the effects through historic storms and flooding. We need to invest in a clean energy economy and protect our beautiful natural resources including by opposing offshore drilling.

Shannon Bray (L)

Data security and ownership to protect people from cyber crimes.

Veteran services - stop endless wars, improve the conditions of our VA hospitals, fight veteran suicide.

Healthcare - prices, preexisting conditions, programs for special needs, and affordability.

Steve Swenson (D)

Flip the Senate to DEM Majority

Codify Roe v. Wade

Pass a African Americans Restoration & Appropriations Act.

Question 2: What will you do to make college and vocational training more affordable and accessible?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

In the State of the Union Address tonight President Trump proposed that every high school have vocational training. That would certainly be a good start in making it affordable. Most communities offer colleges that are less expensive than traditional four-year programs. As far as I know these are accessible to everyone in the community.

Cal Cunningham (D)

I support allowing students to refinance student loans, expand Pell Grants and public service loan forgiveness. I’m also committed to ensuring that veterans can access and have time to use the educational benefits available to them and their families. North Carolina has a proud tradition of public universities and our HBCUs are a critical part of our higher education system, so I will work to ensure the federal government increases investment for these important institutions.

Shannon Bray (L)

While there are many scholarships available, they are often hard to find and apply for. Younger students should start taking college courses or courses that provide college credit in high school. You could also complete your first year or two at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college, which is becoming an increasingly popular and economical choice; so much so that four-year colleges are starting to team up with local community colleges to provide clear-cut paths for transferring.

NOTE: This answer was shortened by Disability Rights NC staff to meet the word limit.

Steve Swenson (D)

Increase federal funding for higher education and vocational training while supporting advances in remote satellite networks of academic learning across North Carolina

Question 3: How will you improve access to medical care in rural and low-income communities?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

Some of the best solutions to affordable medical care come from private industry. For example, Minute Clinics operated by CVS are almost always less costly than a family practice doctor. Rural communities could benefit by doctors who rotate locations on certain days. I have also seen mobile clinics work in certain cases.

Cal Cunningham (D)

I believe we need to create a public health insurance option to increase access to care, and do more to support rural hospitals, and address doctor shortages. Moreover, it is long past time that North Carolina expand Medicaid, which would cover more than 600,000 North Carolinians -- and it is important to note that as Speaker of the House in North Carolina, Thom Tillis passed the law preventing Governor Cooper from doing so.

Shannon Bray (L)

We must first attack big-pharma. While Tillis states he is fighting against the opioid crisis, he is accepting more donations from big- pharma than the rest of his Republican counterparts. We need to remove big-pharma from the equation. I also support the use of medical marijuana and believe it should be decriminalized.

Steve Swenson (D)

Continue advancing gains of the Affordable Health Care Act and increase federal funding grants to our State for rural and low income communities

Question 4: What will you do to promote more affordable and accessible housing?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

From what I have read the affordable housing industry suffers from extensive regulation, which drives costs up and slows production down. Even housing vouchers are sometimes not accepted by landlords because it takes so long for payment checks to be processed. The system is inept and in need of an overhaul.

Cal Cunningham (D)

A lack of high growth and quality housing has driven up rent in parts of North Carolina. The U.S. should either use federal grant programs or a major infrastructure package to invest in building more affordable housing units, especially in urban communities. Congress must put an end to redlining and ensure that all families have a fair shot at homeownership, and redouble support to community development financial institutions that extend capital in underserved markets.

Shannon Bray (L)

I support the HOME Investments Partnerships Program (HOME) which provides grants to States and local governments to fund a wide range of activities including 1) building, buying, and/or rehabilitating housing for rent or homeownership or 2) providing direct rental assistance to low-income families. It is the largest Federal block grant program for State and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low- income households.

NOTE: This answer was shortened by Disability Rights NC staff to meet the word limit.

Steve Swenson (D)

Sustain and support the current federal programs and project increases tied to state population growth

Question 5: Would you support the elimination of subminimum wage?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

Are you referring to the job of waitress, etc, where low wages are subsidized by tips? I'm not sure if these industries could survive if the pay structure was changed. It's true sometimes people do not tip as they should. It would be nice if private industry found a way to make higher wages work.

Cal Cunningham (D)

Yes, I support raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and eliminating the subminimum wage. I believe the only economy that truly works is one that generates opportunities for everyone, but right now the economy is tilted in favor of the wealthy few and against regular families struggling to keep up with rising costs. I will fight for higher wages, defend workplace protections, and work to close the wage gap to ensure paycheck fairness for women.

Shannon Bray (L)

Yes, but this is more of a state issue. North Carolina minimum wage laws allow employers to pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage rate that is less than the standard minimum wage if it files an application and obtains a certificate to do so from North Carolina Wage and Hour Bureau. Typically, an employer will not be approved to pay a disabled employee less than 50 percent of the standard minimum wage; however, a lower wage may be approved if it is shown that the employee has multiple disabilities or is otherwise so severely impaired a lower rate is justified.

Steve Swenson (D)

I do.

Question 6: In response to litigation under other states’ laws, some members of Congress have sought to limit the right of people with disabilities to seek the removal of barriers under the ADA. Do you support limiting who can bring a claim for accessibility of public accommodations under the ADA?

Sharon Y. Hudson (R)

I don't know enough about the issue to take a stand. Why is there opposition to accessibility? I need more information to make a decision.

Cal Cunningham (D)

No, I do not support efforts like H.R. 620 that would create additional obstacles for people with disabilities to enforce their rights to access public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Shannon Bray (L)

There are many building structures that predate the 1991 laws that require accessibility. When any business makes an alteration to any facility, it has an obligation to make the alteration accessible to the maximum extent feasible.

Steve Swenson (D)

No, I do not support.

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