I’m running for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina because we can’t take too much more of what the Republicans in Raleigh are doing to our state. I’ve spent fourteen years in local government–seven as an Asheville City Councillor and seven on the Buncombe County Commission. I’ve seen first hand the damage the General Assembly is doing and it’s time to fight back before it’s too late.

In 2011, our county became ground zero for the North Carolina legislature’s interference in local affairs. They redistricted our county. They meddled in our airport business. They created a recreation authority one year and dissolved it the next. They would have seized our water system–a multi-million dollar asset–if the courts had not stopped them.

The party that claims to want small government is using the heavy hand of big government. This is not only hypocrisy, it is extremely harmful.

It’s not just Buncombe. They’ve imposed their heavy-handed tactics on local governments across the state. They redistricted Wake County’s school board and county commission. They made nonpartisan school board races partisan in Lee County. They took away Charlotte’s airport authority. Most recently, they redistricted Greensboro’s City Council. They’ve interjected themselves into zoning ordinances, appointments and even dictated highway buffering. And they’ve done it against the wishes of local officials and without the support of the citizens who are most affected by their actions. 

Clearly, these Republican legislators are more interested in power than in governing. They’ve caused uncertainty and instability in local government just because they can. As one Republican legislator said, “Municipalities and cities are subdivisions of the state, and the state can play with their property if they feel like it.” They’re playing games while we’re trying to govern. They are on a big government power trip.

While they’re meddling in local affairs, they’re also passing laws that hurt municipal and county budgets and leave our employees in flux. Their cuts to public schools and other programs put pressure on local governments to make up the difference–leaving us with nothing but bad choices. In reality, their cuts are little more than unfunded mandates.

But it’s not just what they’re doing to our local governments that bothers me. It’s what they’re doing to our state.

In their ideological zeal, they’ve slashed public education leaving our schools underfunded and our teachers underpaid.  They’ve cut funding to our public universities while raising tuition on our students. They’ve short-changed our children and our future.

I grew up in Wadesboro and Asheboro and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I know the value of our public schools and universities because of the opportunities they afforded me. As the parent of a teenager, I’m angry and dismayed that, because of the decisions of these Republicans, my daughter and her peers might not have the same opportunities that I did.

I’ve spent the last twenty years of my life working with women and families through the YWCA. I’ve been proud of the leadership role North Carolina played in offering people the tools to escape poverty and build better lives. From early childhood education to access to child health insurance, we were a leader and model for the nation. Now, it seems like almost daily, we watch legislation that dismantles these avenues to a better future.

And they’ve embarrassed us. For most of my life, North Carolina was a leader in the South and I was proud of what we’ve done. The GOP legislature has made us a laughingstock and left the country wondering “What happened to North Carolina?” They passed the most restrictive voter suppression laws in the country. They allowed guns in bars and guns on campuses. While other Southern states were taking down their Confederate flags, our legislature was passing laws to protect Confederate monuments. And they passed blatantly unconstitutional laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians.

I’ve never been one to sit idly by and I’m certainly not going to now. I’m ready to fight to put North Carolina back on the right track.

I am running for Lt Governor because I have a deep investment in North Carolina. But North Carolina has also made a deep investment in me.

It’s time I paid her back. I hope you’ll join me.

Photo by Kathi Barnhill

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Holly Jones