Sen. Jim Burgin, left, and Richard Chapman, right.

In the race for North Carolina Senate District 12 (Lee, Harnett, parts of Sampson County), incumbent Jim Burgin faces Democratic challenger Richard Chapman. Both are from Harnett County. These answers were published unedited and as received from the candidates in the September and October editions of The Rant Monthly.

In person early voting begins on Thursday at the Lee County Board of Elections at 1503 Elm St. or the McSwain Center at 2420 Tramway Road. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday between Oct. 20 and Nov. 4. In person early voting will also be available from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. Election Day is Nov. 8. For information about absentee ballots, click here.

Please introduce yourself and describe your qualifications for office:

BURGIN: No response.

CHAPMAN: I’m Richard Chapman, a retired newspaper journalist and former teacher. I’m running for State Senate in Dist. 12. If elected, I expect to be one of the few senators with actual classroom teaching experience. If you don’t think that matters, look at the state of our schools and the legislature’s long record of underfunding education. People who have never set foot in the classroom dictate to those who do. It’s ludicrous. And our kids are suffering. Teachers need to be paid fairly and given a free hand to do in the classroom what they know works.

State government appears likely to remain divided for at least two more years, with a Democratic governor and a Republican controlled legislative branch. In this context, how will you work to provide positive outcomes for your constituents if elected?

BURGIN: No response.

CHAPMAN: It’s a myth that the legislature’s great divide is between the Republican and Democratic parties. It’s actually between the “have” counties and the “have-not” counties. If even a portion of the have-not counties were to unify around two simple issues: economic development and school funding, the logjam between the two major parties would wither before that voting power. We wouldn’t be locked into continual party bickering and could act on behalf of the counties that need help most.

The state’s job is to pay for good quality schools not cut spending and pass the buck to local school boards. How are poor, rural counties to pay for what the state won’t? Without improved economic development local jurisdictions can’t compete for or retain the best teachers. So schools suffer. Meanwhile, the state gives big businesses generous state tax subsidies only to see them situate in counties that need those businesses least? To the have-nots, giving away tax revenue that gets them nothing is flat out highway robbery. Small, poor or rural counties have been pushed aside for too long. They need to unite and change the political dynamic. I believe they can.

Have you signed any pledges or promises to outside groups or individuals in exchange for an endorsement? If so, please describe them.

BURGIN: No response.


What steps will you take to continue the economic development boom across North Carolina, and particularly the successes seen in and around Lee County? What about the state’s business recruitment strategy is working best, and what could be done better?

BURGIN: No response.

CHAPMAN: Economic development is the lifeblood of our state. For North Carolina to be healthy the state needs a two-prong attack: No. 1: Partner with counties and municipalities to develop the infrastructure businesses require: versatile modern buildings, roads and rail lines, water and sewer, natural gas lines and broadband. This is especially important for the “have not” parts of our state that need the jobs businesses provide but are too often overlooked. The solution is a state-driven plan to spread business development throughout North Carolina and not just let it situate in high-population areas that already have jobs. Tax incentives aren’t enough; infrastructure is the key. No. 2: Fix our schools: Businesses will not settle in communities with poor schools. They deem the work force unprepared and their key employees won’t relocate their families to places where students struggle. Pay our teachers fairly and let them do their jobs.

It’s estimated that half a million North Carolinians could receive access to quality health care through the expansion of Medicaid, but the legislature has rejected the federal dollars to pay for such a move for several years. Do you support the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina using federal dollars?

BURGIN: No response.

CHAPMAN: North Carolina has first-rate medical facilities and personnel but these don’t benefit everybody, everywhere. Our state still struggles with poverty and the fact that too many of our citizens are underserved. Expanding Medicaid can help with that. Many other states have already expanded Medicaid successfully and North Carolina should join the group. Expanding Medicaid with federal dollars would save lives, help working families, aid uninsured veterans, benefit small businesses and create health care jobs in rural areas. Without it our state will struggle to provide important services to those who need them most. North Carolina should not turn down this opportunity.