Five progressive freshmen to watch in NC’s 2019 legislative session

The 2019 North Carolina General Assembly gavels in at noon today with an organizational session. Here are five progressive members of the freshman class worth watching:

Representative Allison A. Dahle

Represents: Wake County (District 11)

From her website: I am a proud supporter of the #MeToo movement. I believe the courageous women who have come forward to share their stories about a critical problem that has permeated all aspects of society. To combat and eradicate this abusive behavior, we need to change not only our laws and office policies, but also our culture.  We need to get past the idea of “No means no” to “Yes means yes” and make affirmative consent the norm. We must also reform the process for reporting harassment in the General Assembly so that nobody falls through the cracks.
Other items of note:  Dahle ousted incumbent Rep. Duane Hall in the May primary following allegations of sexual harassment.

Representative Zack Hawkins

Represents: Durham County (District 31)

From his website:  Healthy people are working people. Working people contribute to and invest in NC.

  • Every North Carolinian should have access to high-quality health care, no matter where you live.
  • Expand Medicaid to more than 500,000 North Carolinians. Now.
  • Proactively and retroactively address public health crises and epidemics facing our state.
  • True economic development. Prepare today’s workforce for the jobs of the future.

Other items of note: Rep. “Mickey” Michaux, who served 19 terms in the House before announcing his retirement, endorsed Hawkins as his replacement.

Representative Rachel Hunt

Represents: Mecklenburg County (District 103)

From her website: When my father left office in 2001, North Carolina was at the national average in terms of teacher pay. SInce 2000, we have slowly slipped into the bottom fourth. Our children deserve better! In order to recruit and keep the best teachers – we need to treat them like the professionals they are and pay them accordingly. In addition, we must restore teacher assistant positions so that our teachers can focus on our kids on not paperwork.

Other items of note: The daughter of former Governor Jim Hunt bested incumbent GOP Rep. Bill Brawley by just 68 votes. On the eve of the session, the conservative NC Values Coalition attempted to throw a wrench into the works urging that Hunt not be seated. [Update: The House Rules Chairman found no standing to the coalition’s claim and Rep. Hunt was indeed seated Wednesday.]

Representative Julie von Haefen

Representing: Wake County (District 36)

From her website: As a long time public school advocate and PTA leader, I know that every child deserves a world class education, right here in North Carolina. From pre-K through high school, education should be free to students and well-funded by the state. For our state to compete economically and for all individuals to live fulfilled lives, a quality education is crucial.

Our state government needs to restore the respect of our teachers and administrators, respect that has been damaged under the current leadership in our General Assembly.  We need to increase teacher pay, restore pay scales that reward teachers for advanced degrees and experience and end pay incentives based on test scores.  We also need to support ALL students through increased per pupil spending and investment in their school buildings.

Other items of note: von Haefen defeated longtime GOP budget writer Rep. Nelson Dollar to win her seat.

Senator Mujtaba A. Mohammed

Represents: Mecklenbug County (District 38)

From his website: A longtime Charlotte resident, he was born in the United States to two hardworking immigrant parents from India. Mohammed served as a former staff attorney at the Council for Children’s Rights and Assistant Public Defender in Charlotte.

Other items of note:  Mohammed ousted incumbent Sen. Joel Ford in the May primary. He joins Indian American state Senator Jay Chaudhuri in the NC Senate. He also holds the distinction of being the youngest member in that chamber.

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