ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Mark Crawford is a Republican running for NC Senate District 49. His responses to our candidate questionnaire are noted below. Learn more about Mark Crawford here.
What do you feel are the biggest issues facing North Carolinians, and what will you do to address them?
I believe that education is the single biggest issue ultimately facing North Carolinians, because how we educate our children will ultimately impact virtually all issues facing our citizens. Whether it be jobs and economy, the environment, agriculture, social issues, etc., how we educate and how well we educate our children will make the difference between ultimate success or failure. I knew from my most recent eleven years of teaching at Western Carolina University, that many of our children are not properly prepared through their primary and secondary education for college just from my classroom observations. At a recent briefing presented by the Public School Forum of North Carolina, it was shared that only 18% of all students met the criteria in all four subject areas tested by the ACT for college readiness. For my part, I not only taught for eleven years at WCU, but before and during a part of that time, I taught for parts or all of thirteen academic years in the Buncombe County School System as a full-time substitute teacher, teaching at the primary, elementary, middle school and high school levels. I would use my background, knowledge and skills learned from this experience to do everything I could to enhance the school instruction and the education of our children.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this November - from the language, to some saying they amount to a "power grab" by the GOP-controlled General Assembly. What are your thoughts on the amendments?
There is and always will be "controversy" on any issue in which there is any opposition. And as I write this response, it has only been two days since judges struck down the wording of two of the amendments. I am not sure if we'll have six or four amendments (or some other number) on the ballot in November. In general, I think it is a good thing to constitutionally reaffirm several things. First of all, as Buncombe County's coordinator for the efforts on "Marsy's Law" (providing protections and rights for victims of crimes), I will absolutely stand for this to be passed as a constitutional amendment. I also think that having a balanced - and if not neutral, then at least bipartisan - Board of Elections is a good thing. I think capping what the State can ultimately tax on income is great for long-term economic planning and security. I think having merit-based choices for judge replacements, rather than political cronyism as the method for filling vacancies is a much better way to go. Additionally, for one of the amendments, I point out the study conducted from the 2012 election that found 35,750 individuals with the same names and dates of birth appear to have voted both in North Carolina elections, as well as those of another state.
And finally, for those who claim this is all about "power grabs", I would have a great deal more respect for those making this claim if they had similarly protested when the first Republican North Carolina Lieutenant Governor after the Reconstruction era was elected and subsequently stripped of much of his formal powers by the then Democrat-controlled legislature. As long as these amendments are fully constitutional, it doesn't matter. And if they aren't constitutional, then the issues are moot.
Would you vote to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act?
When I served in the N.C. House of Representatives, the first state budget I was able to vote for was passed in a bipartisan manner by the House. Within three days of the vote, as I recall, we were informed that because the Federal Government changed what it would reimburse under the Medicaid system, our budget was wrecked and we would have to redo the entire budget. We had to come up with additional tens of millions of dollars to make up the difference. Despite the original intent under the ACA, this could be the case any time the federal government chooses to alter the original terms, and I do not believe it is wise to place North Carolina in this potential fiscal jeopardy again.
What do you believe is best to prevent mass shootings?
I freely admit that I cannot understand what motivates anyone to go out and conduct a mass shooting, unless it is pure, unmitigated evil permeating that individual, regardless of how that came about. I stand ready and willing to examine and explore any and all reasonable options to stop these horrific incidents, as long as they are within the framework of our laws and Constitution.
Do you believe marijuana should be legal either medicinally or recreationally or both?
I can understand and truly empathize with those actually stricken by cancer or some of these other terribly debilitating diseases. I've watched more than one family member go through this in the past two decades. However, one only has to look at California to see the absolute abuse of "medicinal marijuana". As for recreational use, just examine the statistics on the rise of life-threatening DUI/DWI driving resulting from this in Colorado and other states which have recently legalized this activity. Marijuana is absolutely a gateway drug, too, so I question whether any of this is good for our society, as a whole.
What is an example of a policy issue you have changed your view on in the last 20 years?
I have always tried to be consistent, but am willing to change my mind if adequately persuaded. However, since my first attempts at public service, as well as my actual service as a member of the N.C. House of Representatives, I have reflected pretty consistent points of view. In fact, when I fill out candidate surveys for political interest groups, I try to ensure that I say essentially the same thing on current surveys, as I have in their prior surveys, as an example. I'm proud to have stood for and worked towards: bettering our kids' education; strengthening the N.C. economy; cleaning up and safeguarding our environment; supporting our veterans; helping support our mental and physical health system, among the most important. None of this has changed for me, and I expect to go forward with these views.
What question do you wish someone would ask you and why?
I would like for people to ask what makes me as qualified, or more, than my opponent? I would like to be asked this because it allows me to provide the following information: among my opposition, neither is more qualified in the overall picture than I am. First, I am an Army veteran and put my life on the line for our country in combat in the Gulf War. Upon leaving the active duty military, I became a small business man in the local region. I entered the field of education, as a full-time substitute, taking time off from my main jobs to serve and teach extensively in our county school system, teaching at all levels and coaching with middle school and high school teams. I also added more than a decade as an instructor in the UNC University system (WCU). I've previously served in the N.C. Legislature (House of Representatives). I've served on various local Boards off and on for years. Either one of my opponents for this Senate seat possess some of this background, but neither can offer all that I offer. That's why I'd llike to be asked that question.
What is the best piece of advice someone gave you?
I take this particular advice from the Bible: Thou shalt love the LORD thy GOD will all thy heart, soul, mind and strength, and thy neighbor as thyself. If you live by these words, and treat folks like you would wanted to be treated, it's really hard to go wrong.
Who is your favorite musician or band?
For this I have to answer in the plural (and will probably pretty well show my age, too) - The Monkees/Carpenters/BJ Thomas/Beach Boys/ABBA
Duke or Carolina or neither?
Coach Roy Williams was my gym teacher at Owen High School, and my brother graduated and was commissioned an Air Force Officer out of UNC-Chapel Hill. For the first two years I was a cadet at West Point, Coach Kryzewski was our basketball Coach and my nephew graduated from Duke. I have ties to, and like both. However, having invested eleven years of my life as an instructor at Western Carolina University, I especially want to give a "shout out" to WCU, too.