Published On: Mon, Oct 17th, 2016

N.C. Senate and House Candidates debate in Cherokee forum  





OccupyWNC held a forum with candidates for the North Carolina Senate Seat 50 and N.C. House Seat 119 in the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on Thursday, Oct. 13.  On hand were candidate Jane Hipps, who is vying for the senate seat; Joe Sam Queen, the incumbent for the house seat; and Mike Clampitt, candidate for the house. Jim Davis, the incumbent for region 50, did not participate in the forum.

Several questions were asked of the candidates from voter identification issues to global warming. On voter identification, Hipps and Queen were not in favor of presenting photo identification. Clampitt was in favor.

With regard to global warming and concerns, Clampitt said that science has not definitely shown that global climate change is legitimate. Hipps and Queen said that there is great concern about the issue and the state needs to move in the direction of green energy.

A question was posed about reducing poverty in the state. Hipps and Queen responded that tax credits and education were the key to dealing with poverty with Hipps stating that poverty is a “very complex issue” with no simple solution. Clampitt said the key to reducing poverty is to get as many people to work as possible and indicated that he would like to see small business incubators play a major role in solving the poverty issue, in addition to education.

The question was asked of the candidates, “Should video sweepstakes gambling be illegal in North Carolina?”

Queen stated, “I am absolutely against video sweepstakes gambling in North Carolina. It is a predatory product. It is addictive. It strips vulnerable people of their livelihoods…It is an awful scourge to our state…” He went on to say he would do everything in his power to have it remain illegal.

Clampitt expressed that if the video gaming is wrong or bad, then so is the state lottery. He is in favor of free enterprise and free will, and if the lottery is allowed to exist then the people of the state should also be allowed to choose to use those sweepstakes video games. “If we are going to take the ban on the video gaming, then the ban should extend to the lottery, but since it is a free enterprise system, then let people make their own choice on what they want to do.”

Hipps stated opposition to video sweepstakes gambling. “I am not in favor of video gaming, video poker, and I would work to stop that as best I could.” She doesn’t feel that it helps people and it takes money out of their pockets.

Another question asked of the candidates was, “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is looking at options for economic diversification. Such options will not only effect tribal members, but members of the whole state. In what way are you willing to assist in these ventures?”

Queen said that the Tribe has an economic driver in gaming, but also had other great potential in the medical field with the new hospital and the expansion of trout fishing as a tourism draw. He said that there are a lot of ways the Tribe and the state could work together culturally and economically to expand opportunities across the region.

Clampitt envisioned an innovation area similar to Research Triangle Park in Raleigh that would include Jackson and Swain counties with Cherokee as a sort of hub. He commended the green economic initiatives of the Tribe that could be expanded on in a state partnership.

Hipps said she was very much in favor of working with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to improve the western counties. Hipps said she felt that the Tribe could be a big “help” in bringing assistance to the western counties in the areas of health care and internet service. “Definitely, I would be willing to sit at the table and discuss what we could do to improve this region. It belongs to all of us”.

There were approximately 40 people in attendance at Thursday’s event, and the moderator stated that hundreds were watching via an internet live stream. The candidates spent approximately an hour discussing issues and the moderator thanked them for participating. Both candidates and the moderator stressed the importance of everyone participating in the election process and urged every eligible person to exercise their right to vote by Tuesday, Nov. 8.