St. Andrews Club Hosts State Candidate Forum
BY BENNETT HOLLEMAN STAFF REPORTER
THE LAURINBURG EXCHANGE
St. Andrews Presbyterian College hosted a candidate forum Wednesday for students and citizens to hear from state office candidates.
Sponsored by the college's Speak Out! Club, the forum offered candidates an opportunity to present their views and answer questions from the audience.
Rachel Lea Hunter, Representative Doug Yongue and Senator Bill Purcell attended the morning session, which lasted from 11 a.m. until noon.
Hunter is a Republican running for North Carolina Supreme Court.
"I've worked for 15 years as an attorney," Hunter said. "I am opposed to judicial activism. That occurs when a person tries to move a person from their own views. I am opposed to public financing of judicial elections. I am financing my campaign myself. My third and most important issue is what is going on in our public schools. It's unfortunate that many professors are using their classrooms as a place to indoctrinate students into their individual views."
Hunter said parts of the PATRIOT Act were very troubling, and violate the rights of citizens."There are a lot of problems with it," she said.
Hunter also spoke on gay marriage, believing it should be up to citizens to decide."I don't think the courts should decide that issue," she said. "I think they should put a referendum on the ballot." Hunter said capital punishment is necessary to keep certain individuals from committing murders with impunity."I think it should be in existence, but rarely used," she said.
Purcell said he focused on rural economic development and health care in his campaign."We need to make sure places that are not Charlotte or the Research Triangle are going to get their fair share of jobs," Purcell said. "To do that we've got to have roads and infrastructure." Purcell added that St. Andrews was another incentive to help bring jobs to this area.
"To say that you have a high-quality college here is a big boost when we are trying to attract industry," Purcell said. Purcell believes the health care system in America needs to be restructured."If we can get safe drugs from Canada or anywhere else we should be allowed to do that," he said. "The law prohibiting that was one of the president's biggest mistakes. I don't understand it. We have got to bargain with these drug companies, or get medicine from Canada or somewhere, because our healthcare system is out of control. It needs attention on the state and local level."
Yongue spoke on the importance of education and funding for low-wealth counties.
"There's a great disparity across the state," Yongue said of low-wealth state funding. "Support for school systems can go from $400 per child to $3,000 per child, depending on where you live." Yongue said he is working to change how the money is distributed. He also mentioned No Child Left Behind.
"No Child Left Behind was a federal mandate that as to be fully funded with no burden on the taxpayers of the state," Yongue said. "It hasn't turned out that way. Depending on what happens in the election, you may see some changes. There may be pressure from the public to make it more user-friendly. I think the folks at the local level need to plan their own destiny." Yongue said that 60 percent of teachers trained in North Carolina leave the profession within five years. "There is nothing better than a good teacher," he said. "We have a tremendous shortage." He said that getting quality teachers is a priority for the state. St. Andrews President Dr. John Deegan, Jr. said he was pleased with the event's turnout.
"This is incredible," Deegan said. "There must be over 100 students here today. It's very encouraging." A second forum with different candidates was held later in the afternoon.
St. Andrews Presbyterian College Speak Out! Club members pose with state office candidates at a forum Wednesday. Pictured are: (l-r) front row; Sen. Bill Purcell, Aaron Gatten, Martha Mabry, Judge Rachel Hunter, Martin Kreshon, State, Rep. Doug Yongue, Reid Millas, and Mica Nguyen. Back row: Gilbert Abraham, Matt Stucke, Fill Riccardi, and David Lynch.