Senators Randleman, Ballard going head to head

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com
Ballard -
Randleman -

Because of redistricting, two incumbent Republican state senators are squaring off against each other for a reconfigured District 45 seat, which includes 15 precincts in Surry County now served by Sen. Shirley Randleman in District 30.

When the redistricting goes into effect months from now, 14 Surry precincts will be shifted to North Carolina Senate District 30. Sen. Phillip Berger, another GOP member now serving District 26 (Guilford and Rockingham counties) has no party opposition for the District 30 post.

This has left Randleman running for the District 45 seat now held by Deanna Ballard, which will cover other Northwest counties in addition to Surry.

The same set of questions was posed to both Ballard and Randleman to give voters an idea of how they stand on issues, with their responses appearing here.

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Name: Deanna Ballard

Office sought: District 45 State Senate

Age: 39

Community of residence: Blowing Rock

Occupation: Director of public policy for Samaritan’s Purse

Previous political or relevant experience: Has served as District 45 senator since 2016; special assistant to President George W. Bush and Laura W. Bush; director of scheduling and advance for U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff; deputy director of advance for U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

Question No. 1: Why are you running for this position?

Answer: I have served the N.C. Senate since 2016 and continue to serve because I feel called to step up, engage and build onto the great work the N.C. General Assembly continues to do. I have new ideas, lots of energy and sincerely represent all constituents across the district – not just the county in which I live. I believe in responsive communication, in meeting folks where they are and in working together to accomplish what’s best for our district as a whole. All ingredients for effective service and stronger communities and thus, thoughtful leadership and representation.

Question 2: What makes you the better choice for the office you are seeking?

Answer: Sen. Randleman and I are both conservatives and have worked together several times. In my short tenure in public office, I have built a more consistently conservative record, according to several organizations monitoring state government. The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation and Civitas Action have all rated my voting record higher than my opponent, as well as the NRA.

Also, I believe my voting record reflects a willingness to listen to local representation and constituents and not just Raleigh decision-makers, as evidenced with Senate Bill 420 which I voted against at the request of Wilkes Community College and Caldwell Community College leadership. By voting against this bill, I listened to our local boots on the ground and showed support in ensuring the community colleges’ local autonomy was not eroded by the community college system office.

I am transparent, approachable and as my present district can attest to, the hardest-working senator they’ve ever had. Our region continues to face challenges that we must fight with new ideas and more energy than ever before. Hard conversations and decisions happen every day, but I firmly believe our government is stronger when our community has greater involvement in decisions made in Raleigh — because one size does not fit all.

Question 3: The opioid crisis has become a major issue for the nation as a whole. How should this be addressed on the state level?

Answer: Last year, I supported the STOP Act which helps address this urgent crisis facing our region and state – it curbs over-prescribing by limiting the amount available for prescriptions, with some exceptions, while treating opioid overdoses with increased access to naloxone which law enforcement and first responders rely upon a lot. This bill is an improvement in seeking to stem opioid abuses, but there’s no question this problem continues to escalate despite ongoing efforts.

I will champion further resources for mental health treatment and preventive education programs. And as the old saying goes “idle hands are a devil’s playground,” let’s get people to work – we need to rally around our local businesses and our population in supporting strong work opportunities for all our able-bodied men and women.

Question 4: Illegal immigration continues to be a concern for this district and North Carolina as well as the U.S. How can you make a difference on this issue?

Answer: Illegal immigration hurts law-abiding citizens — including legal immigrants — and sets a dangerous precedent by ignoring or even rewarding people who make a mockery of the rule of law. But that’s exactly what officials in Winston-Salem and Charlotte have suggested, some even trying to decriminalize offenses such as DWI.

That’s why I’ve voted to eliminate state funding for sanctuary cities and other state-funded entities. No local government, law enforcement agency or public university should receive a dime if they defy the rule of law. Also, some private organizations have started issuing “community IDs” to give a false appearance of legal status. I’ve voted to eliminate these community IDs and believe we must add a photo ID requirement to prevent any illegal immigrants from voting in our elections.

Question 5: What is the best way to meet the need for more mental health treatment services?

Answer: The bipartisan North Carolina budget passed and signed into law in 2017 included the transfer of funds from the state’s sale of the Dorothea Dix Hospital property to the Department of Health and Human Service for the purpose of expanding inpatient capacity in rural areas to form new inpatient psychiatric units.

Our emergency rooms have turned into waiting rooms for mental health patients — it’s costly and ineffective and we must do better in working together to provide patients the right level of care. In light of the recent national discussion on school safety, I am also supportive of increasing psychologists/counselors in our local schools.

Question 6: Other than the issues already discussed, what is another big need you see in the state or district and how will you deal with that?

Answer: Having been primary sponsor of the Teaching Fellows Bill last session, I believe in doing all we can to recruit and retain our teachers. With increased teacher pay over the last seven years and recent pay increases for our school principals and assistant principals, I am committed to supporting the leadership in our classroom and schools. We should continue to strengthen our school programming with partnerships between local businesses and community colleges to equip students for local jobs – really show our students what an incredible marketplace we have here in our own backyard.

And I’ll continue to fight for school calendar flexibility to align with our community colleges’ schedules and for increased funding for school safety and school construction. There is still more work to be done across the board in education and I will continue to work hard in moving our state forward in this field.

Question 7: Is there anything else you would like to say regarding your candidacy?

Answer: I love serving the 45th District and am humbly asking for your vote. I have a 99.6 percent attendance voting record in the Senate, and have been endorsed as a Family Champion by the North Carolina Values Coalition and North Carolina Right to Life. I have placed votes in support of our law enforcement, in education, in protection of bathrooms and against a full repeal of HB2 (SB4), and in support of the biblical definition of marriage (HB229.)

Without question, I have been dedicated to fighting for the interests and values of the 45th District with integrity and sincerity of heart. I consider it an honor to work and serve NC45. I am Christian. I am conservative. I am committed.

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Name: Shirley Blackburn Randleman

Office sought: Senate District 45

Age: Meets the constitutional qualification for a North Carolina state senator

Community of residence: Wilkes County

Occupation: State senator (elected in 2012)

Previous political or relevant experience: N.C. House of Representatives; clerk of Superior Court for Wilkes County

Question No. 1: Why are you running for this position?

Answer: I am seeking re-election to N.C. Senate District 45 because I understand the challenges of serving in the Legislature and want to continue my efforts to make Northwest North Carolina the best place to live, work and raise a family.

Question 2: What makes you the better choice for the office you are seeking?

Answer: As an elected clerk of Superior Court, my duties included implementing, instructing on and enforcing laws enacted by our Legislature. I believe that our laws should balance with individual rights and that they should not impose undue and added burden on our citizens. In my capacity as a Senate Judiciary chair, I use my practical experience to make sure our laws provide for public safety and address individual needs without having a negative impact on our everyday lives.

Question 3: The opioid crisis has become a major issue for the nation as a whole. How should this be addressed on the state level?

Answer: To begin with, I want to thank our law enforcement and emergency management personnel who deal with this issue on a daily basis. The state, federal and local governments have provided resources to attempt to address the needs in this area, but the needs continue to rise. The state has worked on having systems in place which can identify individual healthcare provider abuses. And adequate resources should be provided to allow our law enforcement agencies the ability to deal with those committing criminal drug offenses.

Question 4: Illegal immigration continues to be a concern for this district and North Carolina as well as the U.S. How can you make a difference on this issue?

Answer: Immigration laws are mostly federal; however, when we are made aware of particular situations at the state level, such as sanctuary cities, I believe the state does have an obligation to address the issue. Another area that we have already addressed is the issuance of fake identification cards and other related documents.

Question 5: What is the best way to meet the need for more mental health treatment services?

Answer: Resources are provided by both the state and federal governments for mental health services; however, I do not think the resources are being used to address the needs in mental health or substance abuse. Northwest North Carolina does not receive adequate funding, nor do we have adequate facilities to provide treatment. Our adolescent youth have to be transported to either Greensboro, Gastonia or Asheville. I advocate consistently for these needs, as this is an area of passion and concern for me personally.

Question 6: Other than the issues already discussed, what is another big need you see in the state or district and how will you deal with that?

Answer: Educating our children in a safe environment is a top priority and adequate resources should be provided to address the needs in each individual school. Also, attracting individuals into law enforcement and emergency management fields is a crisis on the immediate horizon. I will be proposing legislation during the upcoming short session which will hopefully begin to address this need.

Question 7: Is there anything else you would like to say regarding your candidacy?

Answer: As the senator representing our district, I will continue to advocate for the unborn, the elderly and those with disabilities. I am a conservative Christian leader who has taken a firm stand on social and moral issues and will continue to do so.

Ballard
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Deanna-Ballard.jpgBallard

Randleman
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Randleman-2018.jpgRandleman

By Tom Joyce

tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.