The Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature, the first time the GOP has led both houses since 1898, is a huge shift in power that’s brought a lot of new faces, and people new to doing business on Jones Street. In what we hope is a regular feature this session, N.C. Policy Watch will try to talk with some of the newest members to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. This will be an ongoing feature, with the goal of profiling all the new members. Haven’t been contacted for your profile yet? New legislators can contact reporter Sarah Ovaska at [email protected].
Name: Sen. Eric Mansfield (Democrat)
Hometown: Fayetteville (represents Cumberland County).
Family: Wife Donna ; son Thomas, 9, and daughter Erica, 17.
Occupation: Ear, nose, throat and allergy doctor at Cape Fear Otolaryngology. Former Chief of Otolaryngology Services at Womack Army Medical Center (Fort Bragg), 1998 to 2001.
Education: Undergraduate at Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and surgical residency at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. Currently pursuing Master’s in Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Previous political experience: No.
Campaign website: http://www.ericmansfieldnc.com/
Organizations (charities, churches, civic groups) you’re active in: member and youth minister at Lewis Chapel Baptist Church; founder and past board president of Father’s Foundation (2005 to 2009), non-profit that provides scholarships to students.
Biggest political influences: Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Hobbies: Doesn’t have much time for hobbies, but enjoys spending time with family.
Any pet peeves?: “I don’t like people who think one way, who are 100 percent Democrat or 100 percent Republican. They don’t critically think through an issue. To me, our politics went from being one where we wrestled with great ideas to one where we wrestled with great egos. Finger pointing and one-upmanship had replaced reasoned debates. Now, it’s just not enough to disagree with someone, we have to demonize a person.”
How you plan on unwinding from the legislative grind? Spending time with family.
Why’d you run?: “I’m exceptionally cynical about politics and always was until the Obama campaign. It wasn’t just the President, it was how everyday people from all socio-economic (levels), zip codes, and parties came together for a common goal. That inspired me to say that politics really can take care of people. People and policy trump politics. That’s what made me less cynical and decide to run. It’s the policy and the people that I’m all for.”
What are you expecting from this session? “To learn a great deal. I’ve learned more in the last two weekend than I learned in the last 12 years in North Carolina. I’m thankful, at least on the Senate side, there is a spirit of bipartisanship. I expect us to come out as a better state.”
What (policy-wise) keeps you up worrying at night, when it comes to state policy matters? “Health care. When you look at DHHS and Medicaid, their budgets continue to grow. It’s going to increase, looking at the level of poverty and unemployment in the state. There can’t be short-term fixes that we put in place over the next two years just to get re-elected. It’s one of the biggest issues of our time.”
Contact: 1119 Legislative Building, (919) 733-9349, [email protected].