Interviewer's note: Frank McNeill is running as a Democrat for NC Senate district 25 against Republican incumbent Tom McInnis. These questions were submitted to Mr. McNeill via email and he sent his answers back via the same method.
You have lived in Moore County all your life. Tell my readers a little about who you are and what you love most about our community.
It’s always been about the people for me. Growing up here it’s hard not to plant roots. My parents raised my siblings and I with strong values for our community. That often means giving something back and sometimes means being able to lean on those connections. I have tried to support this community as best I could. I’ve been active in the Boy Scouts since I was a kid. They taught me about service to others and fostering that sense of community. That has always been a part of Moore County for me. Whether it’s church, clubs, or schools; it has been a source of strength for me and my family.
Tom McInnis recently mailed out a postcard that you went on record as calling mudslinging. Can you briefly tell my readers what exactly was misleading about that postcard?
Actually there has been another mudslinger since.
With regard to the first one; there are two claims that are intentionally misleading as well as a
cartoonish reference that was just downright mean.
These are the words “…capitalized on rising gasoline prices...” and also “benefiting.” This implies that our company somehow took advantage of our customers during the recent price spikes. Either Tom’s handlers don’t know anything about how gas stations operate or they are straight out lying.
Without getting too in the weeds there are two basic truths about selling gasoline:
1. Costs change faster than retails. This is because the cost goes up with a 5pm email while the retail has to wait for us to change it.
2. Most gas is sold by credit card and a while it takes the same number of gallons to fill a tank,
if the retail is higher, the fees are higher.
The last and most offensive part is the “Ha Ha” in the background. That is just a childish attempt to make it seem like I enjoy having to charge my customers higher prices.
Like most business owners, we faced some major hurdles during the pandemic, from supply chain problems to rising costs. It’s abhorrent that Mr. McInnis would attack a business in his own district, and as long as he continues to do so, I won’t back down from standing up for our company and our employees.
Tell us what your plan is to fix the issues Moore County faces due to the NCGA's tier system?
What would you say to Tom McInnis, who was a primary architect of that system about how it
affects Moore County?
I would not have very much to say to Tom McInnis once I’m elected as he would be a non-factor.
As for the Tier system it is an ill-thought out solution to the problem of equitable distribution and development. It is true that there needs to be investment in “Tier 1” counties in order for them to be competitive and recruit the kinds of jobs that will keep their kids from leaving the county because of a lack of opportunity. However, the current system penalizes smart local investment by taking the proceeds from those developments and distributing them elsewhere.
To make matters worse, the economic incentive packages that hinge on the Tier system are not always followed and large multinational corporations with more political power can influence legislation to leapfrog the rules. Just last year tech giant Apple was offered nearly a billion dollars in incentives to move to Wake County - a Tier 3 county.
Like so many other instances the wealth of southern Moore County skews the ratings by failing to properly account for poverty, home rentals, real estate values and low wage employment. A more fair methodology would be to distribute funds from inside a County to areas of that County that are below the standards. These areas could be delineated by census tract or other appropriate means.
The North Carolina Education Lottery is a shell game. The NCGA uses money generated by the lottery to REPLACE education funds rather than to enhance them. How would you work to ensure the education lottery is used to enhance funds for education as promised?
“Education Lottery” is a misnomer. Once these funds were used to offset other expenses it became just another way to tax poor people and provide funds for things other than education. The original bill stated that lottery profits must be over and above money and cannot offset other expenditures. That clause was removed at the last minute and needs to be reinstated into the legislation authorizing the existence of the lottery. The best way to ensure that this happens is for those funds to be used for specifically enumerated programs such as scholarships or capital projects.
Reproductive rights are a huge issue in this campaign. As a state senator, what would you do to ensure a privacy of women's healthcare records and to protect the rights of all citizens to make decisions with their doctors about their own health care?
I am against abortion and believe that it is a distressing way to end a pregnancy. I also believe that no one has the right to impose their beliefs on another person, especially the government on an individual. I unequivocally support a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body and for those choices to be between her, her family and her medical advisors. Since responsible, smart people can disagree about when life begins I do believe that there should be some restrictions on abortion that not only protect women but also protect the unborn. I think there is room for discussion about the point at which an abortion should only be permitted for health risks.
I also believe we need to do the things that will make abortions less necessary. We need to educate children about sex, improve access to contraception, prenatal care and family healthcare. We need to have good paying jobs for everyone and provide family leave for pregnancies, births and illnesses. I support child care credits, expansion of child care centers and universal pre-K.
If Republicans win back a supermajority in the General Assembly, with enough votes to overturn Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto, they have already promised that rolling back women’s reproductive rights will be on their agenda. I am 100% committed to upholding the Governor’s veto should a more restrictive reproductive rights bill be passed by the NCGA.
Our jails are full of marijuana users. What is your stance on legalization of marijuana and granting relief to those who have already been convicted and sentenced for marijuana possession?
Marijuana should be completely legal with access controlled in the same ways that tobacco and alcohol already are. It is clear that legislatively we will likely have to begin with medical
legalization. At the same time we need to explore how legal cannabis will be grown, distributed, taxed and retailed.
The restrictions that have been placed on cannabis come from misinformed policies and should be eliminated. Because drug laws have been unfairly enforced and criminalization has resulted in unbalanced impact on certain communities we will need to review past cases of excessive incarceration for relatively minor offenses. Breaking the law is still an issue, even for laws that we don’t agree with and so following release there should be probation followed by expungement.
What is your position on the massive effort to ban books from our school libraries that some members of the community find offensive?
This is a complex issue and needs to be looked at from a number of angles.
Banning books is a violation of free speech and so we need to lean toward making information available to everyone. No book should be removed solely because someone is offended by it. If we allow that then a huge number of books would have to be banned, most for no good reason.
That said, some things are complicated and young children are not always prepared to understand them. Books that cover topics from gender identity to genocide need to be evaluated for age appropriateness. I believe high school kids should have access to information without limitations imposed by education administrators. Middle and grade schools should offer a more curated selection of books about these sensitive topics.
The internet is a source of more information, some of it questionable, than any library could possibly compete with. Ultimately, parents should decide if a book or even a topic is not suitable for their child.
Tell my readers how we can expand Medicaid without causing a huge burden on Moore County taxpayers.
By playing politics with Medicaid expansion for so many years, Republicans in the legislature have done a huge disservice to the people and taxpayers of North Carolina. Their decision to not provide Medicaid to hard working people who just don’t make enough money to afford health insurance has not only made life more expensive for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, it has put their health at risk. When people do not have health coverage they either wait to get care until they have a dire problem or they use the emergency room as their primary care. Both of the rest of North Carolinians. When people do not have health coverage they either wait to get care until they have a dire problem or they use the emergency room as their primary care. Both of these are very expensive outcomes. Because the bills for this type of care are very high they often do not get paid. Hospitals must offset these write-offs through higher charges for insured patient care. This flows through to insurers who recover this through increased premiums. So, we are already paying the cost of covering others.
In fact, we are paying for it twice.
What is your basic belief on the issue of gun control?
I’m a gun owner and learned to shoot as a kid. I’ve enjoyed hunting and always made sure to store my guns safely. I support the Second Amendment, just the entire version. The Constitution protects The formation of a “well regulated militia” and the “right to bear arms” in that context.
Outside of that context I believe guns that were designed for the military should be restricted to the military. No one should be permitted to own weapons with large capacity magazines or automatic repetition. Because many of these guns are already in the possession of licensed citizens we will need to appropriately compensate them for turning them in.
I support other elements of gun control like eliminating the gun show loophole, mandatory
background checks, raising the minimum age to 21 and a instituting a waiting period.
Moore County is a traditionally deep red, Republican County. Tell my conservative readers in
Moore County why they should vote for you, a Democrat.
I will fight for a legislature that puts people over politics. I have the experience to lead both
legislatively and administratively. I grew up in this community, I know the people and they know me. I have worked in a family business that has taken care of its employees and customers for nearly 100 years. People trust the McNeill name and you can trust this one.
Like most of you, I’m tired of extreme partisan politics. I believe in the issues that will help every day citizens lead better lives, like affordable healthcare, good quality jobs and a solid education. I believe government has to represent everybody, not just large donors and lobbyists. I believe in getting my hands dirty and listening to voters about what they need and what is important to them.
Most of all, I believe in people.
***Interview conducted by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at email@example.com.
***You can find more information about Frank McNeill on his Facebook page:.