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05 letter to editor In the State Senate District 19 election, you have a choice between two very different candidates. We have an opportunity to elect a senator who will put the interest of our entire community first. In me, you will have a senator who will fight for a quality public education system, not dismantle it; who will work to expand Medicaid, not reduce it; who will protect our drinking water from poison, not ignore it; who believes in the equal rights of all people to vote and live their life the way they see fit, not restrict their rights. A senator who will stand up and fight to ensure that everyone has equal access to the opportunities and basic rights they deserve no matter what zip code they live in or were born in.

I have had the honor of serving our country in the U.S. Army and serving Fayetteville as a city councilman. In both positions, I learned firsthand the value of service, of giving back, and of bringing people together to find common solutions. Too often today,our current state senator has just “looked out” for partisan interests and not the best interests of the people. He claims to have “brought millions of dollars back to our community,” but the sad truth is that many of the policies he voted for hurt people that live in our community. Though he helped bring a residency program to our hospital, he has shut patients out from accessing treatment by blocking the expansion of Medicaid – who is he really helping?

I will work to expand Medicaid to provide access to affordable healthcare. It is time we put patients over politics. We have over 500,000 people in our state without healthcare, which is why I support expanding Medicaid. Every person deserves access to affordable health care. Expanding Medicaid can lower insurance rates as well as create jobs and help our rural hospitals. The expansion of Medicaid will also renew our commitment to address mental health issues in our state.

My top priority is the education of our children and reinvesting in our public schools and teachers. I will give our teachers, children and school employees the support and respect they deserve. My fight is to boost  public education spending, and increase teacher pay to match or exceed the national average so we can recruit and retain the best and brightest. I will support investments in our schools’ infrastructure and in classroom resources so that our teachers don’t have to pay for needed items out of their own pockets.

We must also protect our drinking water and waterways from pollutants and poisons. Safe drinking water shouldn’t be a partisan issue. This is a public health issue and demands our attention. We need to provide the resources to our state departments that are there to protect us. I will fight for the need to review and potentially reverse many of the environmental deregulation bills that have been put in place over the last 8 years. Many of these laws give polluters amnesty for their dumping and pass the cleanup cost on to taxpayers. Additionally, we need to work with our local officials for a county-wide water system.

Everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed and we must work to create an economy that supports this success. Too many families in our community are being left behind in the economic recovery, and reinvesting in education is only part of the solution. We need to create a skilled labor force to attract good paying jobs to our state and community. Supporting the university system, community colleges and trade schools is critical to investing in our people’s success.

There is a clear difference between the two candidates in this senate race. My commitment is to put people first when creating policies and ensure they are equitable and fair. I expect to be held accountable for my votes. I ask that we hold our current senator accountable for his votes over the last eight years that have hurt families and people in our community.

I am a father, husband, veteran, small business owner and community servant who asks for your vote for State Senate. Together we can find common solutions to the critical issues that are facing our state and community.

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