The Charlotte Observer

October 11, 1992

The Race for Governor

Copyright © 1992, The Charlotte Observer

The Observer asked candidates for N.C. state offices to state their cases directly to the voters, unfiltered by reporters. The 10-day series begins today and continues on the Viewpoint page.


Jim Hunt, Democrat

North Carolinians have a clear choice in the gubernatorial election: Do we allow our state to continue to drift, or do we take strong action to get North Carolina moving again? I believe we must forge ahead and take action to build a better future for ourselves and our children.

This election isn`t about Jim Hunt or Jim Gardner. It`s about you, your family and your state. You have a stake in getting North Carolina back on track. For the last year, I`ve been traveling across our state, listening to your concerns, learning from your communities and looking for ways to address the problems I`ve heard about.

First, you`ve told me that you`re worried about the quality of public education. I believe that education is the key to a prosperous and productive future for all North Carolinians, and that we can reform our schools by making fundamental changes.

In today`s global economy, the ``3 R`s`` aren`t enough. Our graduates must be able to think for a living, and to compete for the best jobs. That`s why I`ve proposed raising standards for students, and shifting control to local school systems so that local schools, teachers and parents can determine how best to meet these higher standards. At the same time, we must cut bureaucracy in Raleigh and hold schools accountable for the progress they make.

We should also give teachers the professional status, the voice and the salary they deserve. Teachers - as well as parents - should have a more direct role in determining school policy.

Second, North Carolinians are telling me that we need a new approach to economic development. What worked in the 1970s and 1980s is not enough in the 1990s. We must build an economic future based on high-skill, high-wage jobs. I believe the key to economic development is education: a well-trained work force will help us attract the high-paying jobs we need.

My plan would expand Tech-Prep statewide, and set up school-based apprenticeship programs to provide our students with the skills they need. We should upgrade community college programs for post-high school education and training, provide job training vouchers and scholarships, and give tax credits to employers who help employees take these courses.

At the same time, we need to strengthen our manufacturing base to help industries modernize and stay competitive. My economic development plan calls for a Technology Extension Service to funnel technological advances to the factory floor, incentives to encourage investment in new plants and equipment, and working to boost exports for traditional industries.

To encourage growth from within, we must encourage new and start-up businesses. We can do that by reshaping the N.C. Department of Economic and Community Development. I would also establish an Entrepreneurial Development Board to help start-up companies and emerging businesses get capital, management help and export assistance.

Third, I know that many of you fear for your safety in your own neighborhoods, and in your own homes. North Carolina has become the 17th most dangerous state in the nation - state government is not protecting the lives and property of its citizens. We must develop a comprehensive and affordable strategy to fight crime.

We should start by putting more prisoners - especially dangerous and career criminals - behind bars for longer terms. I`d seek federal approval to repeal the prison cap, to increase prison capacity and put more prisoners in jail. We should cut out waste and mismanagement at the N.C. Department of Correction and build less-costly prisons, such as work farms and military-style boot camps for nonviolent and youthful offenders. And we should put each and every prisoner to work.

At the same time, we must launch an effective and coordinated offensive against drugs. That includes giving local systems the resources they need, such as special drug courts; transferring the Drug Cabinet to the attorney general`s office to streamline efforts; and expanding drug education, treatment and prevention.

To accomplish these goals, we must make state government more efficient and effective. Like successful businesses, we should increase our productivity - do more with less. We can comb every state agency for administrative waste, duplication and excessive bureaucracy. We can also save money by giving managers more flexibility, cutting the governor`s salary, giving the governor the veto, reforming the budget process and exploring privatization. If we do this, we can hold down taxes.

I`ve laid out an ambitious agenda for change. But it`s not an agenda that I can accomplish alone. It requires the partnership - and the hard work - of all North Carolinians. I believe that we can make a difference, if we work together. And I believe that we can move our state forward. I hope you`ll join me in this effort.


Jim Gardner, Republican

As a lifelong conservative, I have the firm belief that if the state educates its citizens, protects them from crime, and makes sure they have an opportunity to succeed, then most of our other problems will be alleviated. But we are a long way from achieving those three goals.

The approach we have taken in education for the last 20 years simply has not worked. When my opponent was governor, he built a huge education bureaucracy that spends hundreds of millions of dollars but does not educate our children. We spend a fortune on education in this state but we are not getting the results we need.

I want to take the $553 million we are now spending on the so-called Basic Education Plan and send those funds down to the local level and into the classrooms. Instead of having a huge bureaucracy in Raleigh, we could have more and better-paid classroom teachers.

We could cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade down to 15 students per class. Studies like Project Star in Tennessee already show that smaller class sizes give children - especially ones from disadvantaged homes - a better chance to succeed. This must be our first priority.

We also must reinvolve teachers in our educational decision-making process. I am not an expert on education. Neither is my opponent. But classroom teachers and principals work with children every day. It`s time we listened to these experts rather than the Raleigh bureaucrats. We can accomplish this by block-granting funds to the local level - without strings attached.

I have also called for a Teachers` Advisory Council made up of classroom teachers. This group will meet with the governor, legislature and State Board of Education. For once, teachers will make proposals, and politicians and bureaucrats will listen. That is the exact opposite of what my opponent did during the eight years he was governor.

We must also realize the mammoth pressures facing today`s teachers. Drug abuse is rampant at all levels. (That is why I pushed for drug awareness education in every grade.) Many children come from disadvantaged homes. And many ``at-risk`` children start school without knowledge of discipline or self-respect, and without any of the basic skills that so many of us assume all parents teach to their children.

That`s why I want to make sure all disadvantaged children have access to adequate child care. This will give them the basic tools they need to have a chance when they begin school. This is the best way to shorten future welfare rolls and cut future prison populations.

Another way to cut future prison populations is to cut the crime rate today. The best way to do that is through deterrence. We must make would-be criminals know that if they break the law, they will be punished.

The first thing we must do is build more prisons. Today, because of liberal court rulings and lack of construction, North Carolina must release 500 prisoners a week. We are not letting out these prisoners because they are rehabilitated. We are releasing them simply because we do not have the prison space to house them.

That`s why I want to build more prisons.

These prisons will be built by the inmates. The prisons will be made of wood and surrounded by barbed wire. There will be no air conditioning, basketball courts or color televisions. And the prisoners will be required to work at least eight hours a day like the rest of us. This will cut expenses, and teach inmates skills and a work ethic.

I also want to challenge some of the liberal court rulings that keep us from packing more inmates into existing prisons.

Another law we must change is Jim Hunt`s Fair Sentencing Act. There has been plenty of rhetoric about this law, but the fact remains that criminals get one day off their sentence for every day they serve. In short, prison sentences are cut in half.

When this law is added to our overcrowding situation, the net result is that drug dealers and violent felons now serve less than one-third of their sentences. It is no wonder our crime rate is spiraling out of control.

The final role of government must be to ensure people have the opportunity to succeed. That means we must cut government waste and hold the line on personal taxes so people can invest and prosper. We have to hold down taxes and unnecessary regulations on businesses so we can attract new industry and encourage existing businesses to expand. These tax cuts will bring more jobs and industries, which will increase - not reduce - the state`s tax base.

With a common-sense approach, we can have better schools and safer streets without more government spending and higher taxes.


Scott McLaughlin, Libertarian

As we move to the end of this campaign, I`ve learned firsthand how much the people of North Carolina want better choices for elective office. We want an end to mudslinging. We want an end to politics as usual. We want real change in Raleigh, and this is the year we can have it.

This year we have a better choice on the ballot. From the White House to the courthouse, Libertarians are challenging the political power elite. We may be squeezed out of the debates. We may be attacked in the press. But your response to my campaign proves to me that the Libertarian Party has the message North Carolinians are looking for.

After all, if the other two parties had the answers, the problems wouldn`t exist anymore. The fact is that the mess we have in Washington and Raleigh has been created by two political parties - neither of which is named Libertarian. Our party believes it is time to return to constitutional government, and reaffirm America`s commitment to individual liberty, personal responsibility, and limited government.

Libertarians believe in empowering people to make their own decisions. We believe that government has no place in our pocketbooks or our private lives. But my opponents believe differently.

Democratic politicians typically want to be your ``big mommy,`` wrapping you in government programs from cradle to grave. They ask you to sacrifice your family budget for their government budget. Republican politicians typically want to be your ``big daddy,`` telling you what your values and behaviors must be. They are prepared to build a prison cell just for you if you disagree with them. Only Libertarians are willing to treat you like an adult. Because, unlike my opponents, we actually trust citizens to run their own lives.

And unless we are willing to trust people, and put citizens in charge of government, we are in for big problems here in North Carolina.

Our state government now doubles in size every seven years. Does your paycheck double every seven years? An average family of four now pays over $7,000 every year in state taxes. And for all that money, the programs still don`t work. Today we have schools that don`t teach, rampant corruption and political ``payoffs,`` violence in our streets, and jobs lost due to the highest taxes in history.

This year we can do something about this mess.

This year we can reject a government of arrogance. This year we can ``just say no`` to the mudslinging career politicians.

This year we can vote Libertarian.

Let`s repeal the state sales tax on food and medicine. If your family spends $100 a week on groceries, you pay over $300 per year on this tax. In other words, the politicians are taking over three weeks of your family`s food every year.

Let`s decentralize state government functions to give communities the freedom to implement and run programs that make sense for the people in those communities. Local management will be less costly, more efficient, and we can hold politicians accountable at the local level. Decentralization will put the people back in charge of the government.

Let`s let parents and teachers control our schools at the local level. I will empower local school boards to run schools with parents having a choice in their child`s education. Let`s give a $2,200 tax credit to any person or business in North Carolina to sponsor a child in any specialized school - public, private, religious or home school.

Don`t be fooled by a politician paying lip service to local control. Only our plan will give you the money and power to make meaningful educational choices for your child`s education.

Let`s reform the criminal justice system, by reaffirming personal responsibility for one`s actions. The consequences for committing a crime need to be clear. Simply to build more prisons isn`t the answer when our entire justice system is inundated by enforcing thousands of laws.

Let`s end the corruption now rampant in Raleigh by electing citizens, not career politicians. If I am your next governor, I won`t have to ``pay off`` big campaign contributors with state government jobs.

Let`s make elective office a public service once again. If I am your next governor, I will accept in pay no more than the average pay of a state employee - $25,153 per year. This is my pledge to the people of this state that we need a real change, and I mean to start at the top.

Don`t waste another vote on a career politician. In November, vote for the change you know we need.

Vote Scott McLaughlin for governor, and vote for all Libertarian candidates on your ballot.

Used with permission.
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Copyright © 1992, The Charlotte Observer.

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