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: state Rep. Carla Cunningham, Democrat
Occupation: registered nurse, Maxim Healthcare Services
Lives in: Charlotte
Family: widow, husband was the late state Rep. Pete Cunningham; two adult children
Hobbies: Gardening, reading and playing tennis
Previous elected office? No
Why’d you run for office?
“I have been politically involved from several years. When health care reform came to the forefront on the national level, I became very engaged. Health is my passion. I decided to run when redistricting opened up a new seat.”
What are the major challenges you’re anticipating in the legislature?
The budget, Medicaid and education.
“What are we going to do about education? How are we going to get it back up to par when we’re competing on a global stage? It doesn’t seem like we’re there with the cuts.”
One specific issue that you’ think needs addressing?
“I’m passionate about health care, the Affordable Health Care Act, and whether the state will run its own exchange.”
How do you feel about:
Voter ID? Not in favor. “It seems to be disenfranchising people, especially seniors, college students and disabled persons.”
Medicaid expansion? In favor. The federal government pays for the bulk of costs first few years. “It would give some relief to the state. That would give us some time to economically come back on board.”
North Carolina’s public schools. “I’m not sure what they can do with schools this year. When you look at North Carolina, we’ve dropped down in per student spending. If we continue to go down, we’re going to have less effectiveness in the classroom.”
Immigration: Not a priority at state level.
Corporate and personal income taxes?
Not in favor of cutting corporate tax rates. “We’ve given so many incentives for corporations to come here and then when it comes to job creation, they haven’t done what they said they would do. They need to pay their fair share like everybody else.”
Who influenced you politically?
Late husband, state Rep. Pete Cunningham
How do you describe your politics?
“I don’t consider myself very partisan, but I do believe in the Democratic platform about assisting where we can. Government is part of our everyday lives. If we didn’t have rules and regulations, then we’d be all over the place.”
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you:
Cunningham wasn’t raised by her parents, and lived with various family members when growing up. By the time she graduated from high school, she had gone to 20 schools. Also, was widowed by her first-husband when children were 3 and 5.