Monday, September 26, 2022

Election 2022: Ted Davis Jr. seeks reelection for NC House District 20

Ted Davis Jr. is running for NC House District 20 in New Hanover County. (Courtesy photo)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Incumbuent Republican Ted Davis Jr. is running against Democrat Amy Block DeLoach for New Hanover County District 20 in the N.C. House of Representatives.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate appearing on ballots in the tri-county region, even those unopposed, ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 election.

The media outlet asked candidates to address issues pertinent to the Cape Fear: PFAS, women’s rights, affordable healthcare and more.

Davis’ stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full and the candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. Responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

The paywall is dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots will be available Sept. 9 and have a Nov. 1 deadline.
  • Registration to vote will open until Oct. 14; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration only will be available during one-stop early voting. 
  • Early voting begins Oct. 20 and remains open through Nov. 5 (3:30 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 8, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Locations to vote early in New Hanover County include CFCC Health Sciences and Learning Center (415 2nd. St.), Carolina Beach Municipal Building (1121 Lake Park Blvd.), CFCC North Campus (4500 Blue Clay Rd.), Northeast Library/Board of Elections (1241-A Military Cutoff Rd.), and the Senior Center (2222 S. College Rd.).

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their voter registration card.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

Support local, independent journalism through a monthly subscription or consider signing up for our free newsletter, Wilmington Wire, to get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.

Port City Daily (PCD): Name three projects you are currently are advocating and why.
Ted Davis Jr. (TDJ): During the 2021 long legislative session, I introduced legislation requiring fire departments to provide an annual inventory of all Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF), which could contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), at each department; annually identify all AFFF no longer being utilized at each department that should be properly disposed of; and report every incident where AFFF were deployed.

Because PFAS contamination is strongly linked to cancer, and cancer is now the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for firefighters, I amended that legislation to include a new section prohibiting the discharge for training or practice purposes firefighting foam that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals, as well as prohibiting the discharge of such firefighting foam for testing purposes unless a testing facility has implemented appropriate containment, treatment, and disposal measures to prevent release of this foam into the environment. This legislation passed the House unanimously and was sent to the Senate for consideration. The original language in my legislation was included in the policy provisions of the budget that was signed by the governor. However, the Senate would not agree to the language in my amendment being included. I am still pursuing the amendment language.

During the 2022 short legislative session, I introduced legislation requiring a party (such as Chemours) to pay a public water system (such as Cape Fear Public Utility Authority) any actual and necessary costs incurred by that public water system to remove, correct, or abate any adverse effects upon the water supply resulting from PFAS contamination exceeding a permissible concentration limit for which that party is responsible. This would protect the rate-payers for the affected public water system from having to pay such expenses.

The bill ended up being referred to the House environment committee to be heard and vetted. Unfortunately, time ran out before the House adjourned from the short session and there was no opportunity for the environment committee to meet. I am still pursuing this legislation because I am committed to protecting my community from pollution, ensuring that we have clean drinking water, and making those responsible for the pollution pay for the damage that they have done.

In 2017, I became aware of a pilot project for the City of Wilmington to establish a “Quick Response Team” to address the needs of opiate and heroin overdose victims who were not getting follow-up treatment. The program would be voluntary and require annual funding in the amount of $250,000. I was asked by the city to seek the initial funding necessary for the program, and because New Hanover County was in the unfortunate position of being one of the worst places in the country for opioid use, I agreed to do so. I was subsequently able to get the funding through 2023.

The pilot program has been very successful. I am pursuing making this pilot program a permanent program with continuing funding from the State.  

Do you support the expansion of Medicaid? What else needs to be done to help all North Carolinians have access to affordable healthcare?
TDJ: I support the expansion of Medicaid if it is done correctly and in the most cost-effective way for the benefit of our state and our taxpayers. Presently, the federal government pays 80% and the state pays 20% of the costs for Medicaid, which is in the billions of dollars. If the federal government decides to reduce their 80% contribution, the state will have to be responsible for the increase in its contribution, which will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. Therefore, we must be very careful to structure our Medicaid expansion so if the federal government does reduce their contribution, our taxpayers are not responsible for any increased obligation.

I previously supported legislation in the House that would have expanded Medicaid with conditions that if a recipient was capable of working, they had to get employment and they would pay a small % of their wages toward their premiums to have “skin in the game.” Unfortunately, that legislation went nowhere.

During the 2022 short legislative session, I supported legislation that would address Medicaid expansion by creating a joint legislative committee to hear a plan to extend Medicaid, make recommendations regarding that plan to the general assembly, and the GA take action to enact all or part of the plan on or after December 6, 2022. This legislation passed the House (with every Democrat voting for it); unfortunately, the Senate would not hear it. The problem is the Senate will not consider Medicaid expansion unless certificate-of-need reform is also included. The Senate, governor, and the NC Healthcare Association are trying to work out a resolution that will be agreeable to them and the House.  

PCD: What can you bring to the table to address the affordable housing crisis currently facing residents?
TDJ: We are fortunate that we live in an area that is so desirable that people want to relocate here, but that desirability has led to an increased demand for housing which has caused a shortage and resulted in increased prices.

The definition of affordable housing is 30% of net income spent on housing. That percentage means there is a wide range of what is considered affordable. In particular, workforce housing is a critical need. The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County have both been working on a number of projects in collaboration with the NC Housing Finance Agency to increase affordable workforce housing, and I will continue to support that effort. 

I support incentives for developers who build affordable housing. I also support providing incentives to recruit new businesses and encourage the expansion of existing businesses that provide good paying jobs, so more people can earn enough money to pay for housing in our market.

PCD: How do you propose the government assist with combating inflation and its ramifications-rising rents, groceries, utilities, prescription drugs, gas-on working families?
TDJ: By law, the state passes a balanced budget that prevents excessive spending. The legislature has regulated the gas tax so the cost of fuel does not increase each time that the price of oil goes up. The legislature has also capped the sales tax at 7% to keep the cost to consumers down.

The 2022 budget included $1 billion to a newly created “State Inflationary Reserve” in anticipation of a recession. In addition, I would support eliminating the 2% food tax on groceries to help with the cost of food. The federal government needs to work with the states in reducing the historic rise in the national inflation rate that is having such a negative economic impact on us.      

PCD: There has been a lot of talk about reforming ABC laws in the state, often called “draconian” by business owners tied to them.  Would you support revising some of the laws and do you support privatization – why or why not?
TDJ: In New Hanover County, under the present ABC laws approximately 4 million dollars of the revenue from the local ABC stores goes to the county, Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. These revenues help to reduce taxes, such as the local property tax rate.

A portion of the revenue from the sales also goes to local law enforcement to enforce the ABC laws; the local ALE to check on establishments that serve alcohol; and community outreach and non-profits for alcohol related treatment services. New Hanover County has one ABC Board, rather than multiple Boards, that has transparency due to the open meeting laws. There is also consistency in the price of alcohol in each of the local ABC stores. In addition, there are approximately 75 local ABC employees that would lose their jobs.

For these reasons, I do not support privatization.

PCD: Where do you stand on women’s reproductive health rights and would you support legislation to further restrict abortions in North Carolina?
TDJ: Abortion is presently a very contentious moral issue between those who believe that women should have the right to decide what happens to their bodies and those who believe that babies should have the right to life. The far left wants a woman to be able to have an abortion up to the day of birth and the far right does not want a woman to have an abortion for any reason at all.

I support the compromise stance of a woman being able to have access to an abortion with reasonable restrictions. I believe in the rule of law, and that the law should be followed, which presently in North Carolina is that a woman can have an abortion during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, and after that, limited to cases of rape, incest, a non-viable fetus, or danger to the health of the mother.

PCD: The state has been recognized as one of the best in business.  How far should North Carolina go to attract companies and promote economic development?
TDJ: Under Republican leadership in the general assembly, reduction of personal and corporate income taxes, franchise tax simplification and reduction, and regulatory reform have made North Carolina more business friendly. We need to continue our community colleges being able to train employees of a potential business.

In fact, North Carolina has been recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the state with the top business climate and by Forbes as the top state for business. Whether you like them or not, economic incentives play a huge role in getting new businesses to locate here, as well as existing business expanding here.

As a New Hanover County Commissioner and a member of the state house, I have supported incentive payments only when certain benchmarks have been reached, such as a certain amount having been spent on new construction and infrastructure and/or a certain number of jobs being created at a certain salary level.  

PCD: Coming out of 2021, wherein NC garnered over $400 million from film projects, should North Carolina take steps to strengthen the industry, such as improving grants? 
TDJ: The state originally had a film tax credit (which was actually a reimbursement of “qualified expenses”) that allowed for major movie projects to be done in North Carolina. When that film tax credit was going to expire, I was able to get the House to pass legislation extending it. But, unfortunately, the Senate would not agree. So, the state then went to the film grant program. In consultation with the local EUE/Screen Gems Studio, I worked to get the annual appropriation for the film grant to be $31 million and it being a recurring appropriation (which means that if there is no Budget, the funds will be appropriated).

I also fought against any attempt to reduce that funding. Since the limited appropriation for the film grant will not allow major movie productions, such as “Iron Man,” to be done in our state, the emphasis is now on smaller productions, such as TV. I agreed and worked on getting the criteria for getting a film grant modified so that more low production companies could qualify. I am very pleased with the success of the film grant bringing business to our state.

I will continue to fight for the film grant because it supports a clean industry that is an economic engine by giving employment to so many talented individuals in our region and state that spend their money locally, supporting many local businesses. I will also seek to get the appropriation for the film grant increased to allow for more productions. 

PCD: Do you support the state’s progression toward offshore wind development? Clean energy tax breaks? Explain.
TDJ: Offshore wind development is certainly an option to be considered, and I want to make sure that it will be beneficial and cost efficient for the state, as well as the consumers. Also, any offshore wind facilities would have to be at least 20 miles from our coastline so as not to be visible from our beaches and shoreline.

In addition, I voted for legislation to bring down the cost of energy by adding renewable energy to our power systems and combating climate change by cutting emissions from power plants by 70% by 2030.

PCD: How does the state need to improve its flood resilience plan to prevent disaster scenarios, like Hurricane Florence’s aftermath?
TDJ: North Carolina needs to have broadband access throughout the state to help keep citizens aware of a pending natural disaster. We need to have an evacuation plan with roads and bridges that are functional in the event of major flooding. We need to make sure that stores have adequate supplies, gas stations have sufficient fuel for cars and generators and sufficient medical facilities are available to treat those in need. The 2022 budget included $215.8 million for disaster recovery and mitigation efforts to prepare for future flooding and natural disasters. 

PCD: What needs to be done to address PFAs in North Carolinians’ drinking water?
TDJ: After the GenX contamination of the Cape Fear River was brought to light by a Star News investigation in 2017, I asked the Speaker of the House Tim Moore if the House could have a select committee on river quality to find out more about the GenX situation because you can’t do something unless you know exactly what you are dealing with. He agreed and I was named the senior chair of the committee. We heard from the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), scientists, and various experts in order to understand what was going on and what we might be able to do to address the pollution that was contaminating our drinking water.

For example, we learned that GenX pollution could be caused by air emissions as well as putting it directly into a river. We also learned that GenX could pollute our underground sources of drinking water, as well as our rivers. As a result of those committee hearings, I filed legislation in the House, which passed unanimously and gave the initial funding to DEQ to address the GenX problem.

During 2018, I started a petition and sent a letter to Governor Roy Cooper requesting that the Chemours, located near Fayetteville and upstream from Wilmington, be shut down until they could guarantee that they would no longer pollute the Cape Fear River. Unfortunately, the governor did nothing and let Chemours continue to operate. 

It was subsequently discovered that DEQ knew as early as 2019 that the groundwater in New Hanover County was contaminated with PFAS, but did not warn the public until November of 2021. This meant there was a 30-month period from 2019-2021 when thousands unknowingly drank water that DEQ knew was dangerous.  

During the 2022 short legislative session, I filed a bill that will require a party (such as Chemours) to pay a public water system (such as Cape Fear Public Utility) any actual and necessary costs incurred by that public water system to remove, correct, or abate any adverse effects upon the water supply resulting from PFAS contamination exceeding a permissible concentration limit for which that party is responsible. This would protect the rate payers for the affected public water system from having to pay such expenses.

The bill ended up being referred to the House environment committee to be heard and vetted, but time ran out before the House adjourned from the short session and there was no opportunity for the environment committee to meet. If I am reelected, I will immediately file the bill again at the beginning of the 2023 long legislative session and proceed accordingly. I am committed to protecting my community from pollution, ensuring that we have clean drinking water, and making those responsible for the pollution pay for the damage that they have done.

PCD: What do you consider to be the top issues in our K-12 schools right now, and how would you work to address it?
TDJ: Academic proficiency in “the 3 Rs.” We are living in a global society, and it is critical that our students are well educated enough to compete not only with other students in the U.S. but internationally. In order to accomplish this, they need a firm foundation in the basics.

School safety is a top priority. All students, faculty and staff need to feel safe at school. Our teachers need competitive compensation in order to attract and retain the best and the brightest.

I have voted for every teacher pay raise since being elected to the House, and I will continue to do so. I just recently supported over $400 million to address school safety issues, such as hiring additional school resource officers. Our teachers, as well as the staff that supports them and our students, need the support of all of our state and local officials. We need to remain focused on continuing the investments we have made in public education, and we need to ensure that parents know their child is safe and cared for while at school.

PCD: Are there any actions you support to make North Carolina a more equitable state and provide opportunities to historically marginalized populations?
TDJ: I have supported the following:  

Reducing our state’s personal income tax rate so that low-income families can keep more of their hard-earned money. 

Increasing the child tax deduction by $500 per child.

Increasing the standard deduction for a married couple to $25,500, which means that no State income tax will be paid on the first $25,500 of income.

Expanding funding and eligibility for the Opportunity Scholarship Program to increase school choice options for low-income families.

Reducing tuition at historically minority universities to help low-income families send their child to college.

As a member of the Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees for 15 years, making sure our Community College System remains strong and viable so low-income families can afford to get an education to obtain gainful employment. 

PCD: Where do you stand on the decriminalization of marijuana?
TDJ: As a former state assistant district attorney and assistant United States attorney, I do not favor the decriminalization of marijuana. However, I am willing to discuss the use of medical marijuana, which would need to be closely regulated, for those who meet the criteria of using it. 

PCD: What would your main priorities be to address infrastructure needs in North Carolina?
TDJ: To successfully address our traffic congestion, we need to have a renewed focus on new road construction, as well as an additional bridge across the Cape Fear River.

Also, as we learned from Hurricane Florence, we need to have roads and bridges that are functional in the event of major flooding. The 2022 budget included $193.1 million to the highway fund to support transportation needs and improvements.

In addition, we need to make sure that we have a good working partnership with our local governments and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority to ensure that we have safe drinking water, and our sewer needs are properly addressed and fully funded in order to avoid future crises. The 2022 budget included $883 million for water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

We need to provide the proper funding to ensure that we have broadband access throughout the State. The 2022 budget included $2 million to expand the Public Safety Broadband Network, as well as adding $5 million to the program to expand rural broadband access. As always, an ongoing priority in our area is beach renourishment in order to protect our tourism industry, which is a major economic engine for our area.

PCD: What resources do we need in place to continue to fight Covid-19? How should the state prepare for a future pandemic?
TDJ: Covid revealed how important healthcare facilities, workers and medical supplies are to address the negative impacts of this virus. The 2022 budget included $95 million to continue temporary Covid rate increases for skilled nursing facilities and personal care services. In addition, we need protection from unreasonable mandates that are not founded on accurate scientific research.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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