SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — Democratic candidate Marcia Morgan is running for a second time to serve as the representative for House District 19.
The Carolina Beach resident and retired Army Colonel is again vying for House District 19’s seat after narrowly losing to Representative Ted Davis by a 2.4% margin in 2018. She advanced in this spring’s primary and will face Republican candidate Charlie Miller on the ballot in November.
House District 19 was recently redrawn to include southeastern Brunswick County and southern New Hanover County. It has no incumbent.
Early voting begins Oct. 15. Same-day registration is available during the early voting period, which ends Oct. 31. Election day is Nov. 3. Check your voter registration and county elections office to confirm polling locations, dates, and hours.
Port City Daily emailed both candidates the below questionnaire and will run their responses ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Port City Daily edited responses for spelling and grammatical errors only.
Port City Daily (PCD): Why are you running?
Marcia Morgan (MM): I believe in service to the community.
PCD: How would you grade Governor Roy Cooper’s response to the pandemic (A-F)? Did the state’s executive branch overstep its authority? What, if anything, do you think should have been done differently?
MM: Governor Cooper’s response to the pandemic has saved lives. Cooper let science and data, not politics, drive his decisions, and voters from all sides of the political spectrum have praised his coronavirus response. The pandemic has highlighted a number of shortfalls in state government that need to be addressed immediately, starting with an expansion of unemployment benefits. I think there should be some special consideration in the form of emergency grants and loans for small businesses, and individuals who have been forced to stay home. The restrictions have been hard on everyone, obviously much worse for some, but they have been necessary for the long-term recovery.
PCD: Do you support the current flexibility given to the state’s elementary schools to reopen, or do you think there should be more concrete recommendations and guidelines? Should this same level of flexibility be extended to all grade levels?
MM: I support the different school systems having the flexibility to reopen, based on their particular circumstances. For example, Brunswick County schools are generally more rural than New Hanover County schools and therefore better able to meet CDC distancing guidelines for providing a safe environment. And I support following those guidelines across the board. Elementary-age students benefit more from the in-person environment (and have greater difficulty with online training); part of their development
at that age comes from the social interactions with friends and teachers, which simply cannot happen through a computer.
One important criteria to monitor is increases in the rate of infection. Studies have shown that children under the age of 10 are less likely to become infected and have experienced reduced severity. Flexibility at higher grade levels needs to be based on the increased risk factors that come with a denser classroom environment and slightly higher potential for impact of the virus. At all levels, the administration needs to closely monitor infection rates and be prepared to respond with alternative plans if necessary.
PCD: House District 19 has been redrawn and now includes no incumbent. It crosses county lines, including coastal communities in both New Hanover and Brunswick County that aren’t connected by land. How do you plan to represent all of these different communities?
MM: Certainly, the time/distance commitment of the new district is a bit more challenging than the previous one, but I’m finding that, although we are separated by a river, we share similar concerns. We want clean drinking water for our families. We want a strong public education for our children. We want to preserve our tourism and fishing industries–and our natural resources–by banning offshore drilling. We want good jobs in sustainable industries and access to affordable, quality healthcare. My experience on the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, where I was responsible for working with representatives from all military branches to accomplish priorities, prepared me well for the task of working with people from both counties in District 19, to listen to concerns, identify solutions and collaborate on the best way to implement those solutions.
PCD: Over the past decade, the DEQ has lost more than one-third of its funding. Should the state increase funding for the agency? Why or why not?
MM: The poisoning of the Cape Fear River is the ultimate argument for increasing funding for the DEQ. The state MUST have adequate, qualified
inspectors to monitor what is happening to our environment, AND we must enact stringent policies that enforce stiff penalties for violations.
PCD: Should the state increase teacher pay? Why or why not?
MM: Teacher pay in North Carolina is an embarrassment. We should pay our hardworking teachers at least the national average, rather than lead the way to the bottom of the teacher salary list. Our state constitution guarantees each student will have the opportunity for a high-quality public education, yet our legislature has made that nearly impossible by refusing to pay teachers adequately and budget for even basic educational resources like textbooks. The fact is many of our best teachers are leaving, going to other, higher-paying states or abandoning their teaching ambitions altogether–and those who stay are often forced to work multiple jobs just to survive. We can and should do better than this, and I will make public education a priority when I am elected.
PCD: If elected, what local issues do you plan to advocate for at the state level?
MM: As COVID continues to impact our state and local communities, my top priority would be making healthcare more affordable, starting with expanding Medicaid, followed closely by passing economic reforms geared toward getting everyone back to work. If you had asked me this 10 months ago, my three main policy priorities would have been: (1) to restore education in NC to a place of pride, which includes paying teachers a respectable wage. A better-educated population is the foundation for a better future. This, in turn, supports (2) building a better economy through
increasing the minimum wage, which in turn helps individuals afford better housing, and encourages new industries to come to this area. This further ties into (3) creating a cleaner environment through strengthening the DEQ, enforcing standards that currently exist, and getting rid of the Hardison Amendment which prevents NC from adopting stricter standards than the federal government.
PCD: If elected, do you plan to advocate for stronger water quality monitoring and contaminant limitations of public drinking water and discharges? If yes, what specific solution(s) do you think are needed at the state level to address the region’s water quality concerns?
MM: The public has a right to expect their water is safe to drink and their air is safe to breathe. At this point, the state needs to be taking ALL steps that are necessary to force Chemours, Duke Energy and any other corporation to clean up their messes, at their own expense. I don’t think we know right now what that will take, but if the penalties are severe enough, they will comply. However, the state should simultaneously be working with scientific groups to determine an independent solution on what the “acceptable” levels are and how to monitor them.
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