State House District 50 Representative Graig Meyer will run unopposed in the Democratic primary, so he is turning his attention to the short session of the General Assembly which convenes in May. Meyer says it is time for the state’s Democrats to push back against the Republican super majority.
“I want to make sure that Democrats in the state remind people that we have a strong vision for how to make and keep North Carolina prosperous,” Meyer says. “Some of the things that have happened over the past several years would not have happened if Democrats were in control of the legislature.”
Under the leadership of Republican Governor Pat McCrory, Meyer says he believes that many democratic values have been swept aside.
“I believe that a lot of people, when they voted for Governor McCrory, believed that they were voting for a moderate. And at best, he has been moderately ineffective,” Meyer says. “The Governor hasn’t really been able to push forward any type of moderate agenda. He has allowed the Republican legislature to push forward their right-wing agenda, and that is going to hurt North Carolina.”
Meyer, who was appointed to the seat in late October after Senator Valerie Foushee moved to the District 23 position, says his two priorities are education, particularly teacher pay, and environmental protection.
In November, he will face the winner of the Republican primary, either retired banker Lewis Hannah or pastor Rod Chaney, for the seat which represents parts of Orange and Durham Counties.
Meyer, with a background in public education, says that if he successfully retains his seat in the general election, he will continue his work to ensure that the voices of teachers are heard in Raleigh. Meyer serves as Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
Educators across the state are angry about a new law that ends teacher tenure and replaces it with a plan that will reward the top-performing teachers.
The measure requires school districts to identify the top 25 percent of educators to receive four-year contracts with annual raises of $500. In exchange, teachers have to give up their career status, which requires due process or a hearing before an attempted demotion or firing.
The law will phase out career status for all teachers by 2018.
WUNC reported that at least 28 school districts across North Carolina oppose the new law.
“In Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, the contracts were offered to several hundred teachers, and 95 percent of them rejected the contract. It is an example of the legislature trying to create a system without actually talking to the people that it will actually impact and whether it will work for them,” Meyer says.
On the subject of the recent Duke Energy coal ash spill in Eden, North Carolina, Meyer believes the incident was handled poorly by state leaders.
As a result of a stormwater pipe collapse at Duke Energy’s plant in February, at least 30,000 tons of pollutant were dumped into the Dan River, coating approximately 70 miles of the riverbed. Coal ash contains toxic contaminants such as arsenic, mercury and lead.
“I think that the lack of action on the coal ash spill and on coal ash storage from the Governor and his allies shows that environmental protection is not their priority,” Meyer says. “Clearly we need to move coal ash away from sources of freshwater. It really should be Duke Energy’s responsibility to pay for it, not the taxpayers and people of the state.”
Regarding the state’s controversial Voter ID legislation, which McCrory signed into law in August of last year, Meyer says he believes it targets minority groups in order to restrict their voter participation and politically benefits those who passed the law.
“I believe that our democracy works best when everybody has the ability to vote. It doesn’t have to be my party that wins, just as long as everyone has a chance to have their say-so. I’d rather not restrict them.”
Meyer adds that he is against the state’s ban on gay marriage and would like to see Amendment One overturned.