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Social security, healthcare, systemic racism addressed at candidate forum


Bruce Davis Bruce Davis
Democratic candidates for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District were on hand Wednesday, May 18 at the Guilford County Democratic Party Headquarters to address issues such as climate change, social security, healthcare, gun control and systemic racism.

Twenty-two candidates in all are vying to be the representative of the 13th Congressional District, which was recently redrawn by leaders in Raleigh. A special primary will be held on June 7.

The N.C. General Assembly redrew the boundaries of the state’s 13th Congressional District last month. The new district includes High Point and much of Greensboro, and stretches to the West covering all of Davidson and Davie Counties, and into parts of Rowan and Iredell Counties.

Democratic candidates who filed include: Adam Coker, Bob Isner, Bruce Davis, Kevin Griffin and Mazie Ferguson.

Republican candidates who filed include: Andrew C. Brock, Chad A. Gant, Dan Barrett, David W. Thompson, Farren K. Shoaf, George Rouco, Hank Henning, Harry Warren, Jason A. Walser, Jim Snyder, John Blust, Julia Craven Howard, Kathey Feather, Matthew J. McCall, Ted Budd, Kay Daly and Vernon Robinson.

Adam Coker Adam Coker
Adam Coker is the principle creative at The Good Light visual arts makers’ space and lead photographer at Authentic Exposure Photo and Cinema. Coker said he is supportive of law enforcement programs that help treat drug addictions and not just incarcerate people.

“We have more African Americans living incarcerated now than we had in slavery over 400 years ago. We have too many people in prison for drug addictions and not for criminal acts. We have to find a way to provide treatment for drug rehabilitation and not overcrowding our prisons for nonviolent crimes,” said Coker. He added that he supports fair working conditions for immigrants. “Hold employers accountable that they allow workers to form a union,” said Coker.

Greensboro developer Bob Isner is taking his first turn on the political wheel. He has owned and operated Greensboro Contracting Corporation since 1983 and has been working to help develop downtown Greensboro since 2001. Isner stated that many government systems such as healthcare and Social Security need to be reformed.

Mazie Ferguson Mazie Ferguson
“The Affordable Healthcare Act is a great improvement for healthcare for Americans. But it’s just a start. Our healthcare system is extremely complicated,” said Isner. “Social Security needs to be protected and maintained. Our demographics are changing and it’s not meant to be a retirement fund, but supplemental funds for seniors.”

Kevin Griffin, president and CEO of AVANT Group, LLC, a full service staffing solutions company based in Durham, agreed that social security needs to be adjusted, but to the cost of living for seniors.

“Social Security needs to be maintained and strengthened. Change how the cost of living adjustments are made for seniors, such as medication and transportation. Teach people the value of savings and paying into their retirement funds in addition to Social Security,” said Griffin, who recently ran and lost the 2016 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate to Deborah Ross.

Kevin Griffin Kevin Griffin
Griffin said he is against family deportation practices and he said an extensive guest worker program for immigrants is a step towards comprehensive immigration reform.

“We protect them, provide them services, and find them jobs. Having the immigrant population invest into the American dream is something that leads us down a better path,” said Griffin.

Bruce Davis is founder and president of Kid Appeal Learning Center, a child care center in High Point. Davis ran unsuccessfully for N.C. Senate District 28 in 2012 and the U.S. House, North Carolina District 6 in 2014. He had filed to run in the 6th Congressional District, but transferred to the 13th when the new lines were drawn.

As an education advocate, Davis discussed tearing down the prison to pipeline system that builds prisons based on African Americans males’ third grade reading scores.

Bob Isner Bob Isner
“Look at the culture that we have in America. We are culturally conditioned to believe Whites are superior and Blacks are inferior. Blacks are marginalized. It’s going to take a paradigm shift in our training, sentencing laws, and we have to take the money out of prisons,” said Davis, who also suggested more policies on gun control.

Mazie Ferguson is a Greensboro minister, attorney and advocate for poor, working families. Ferguson, who ran for Commissioner of Labor and lost in the primary election to incumbent Cherie Berry, said she joined this race because, “These are times we need a person who will challenge the folks out there. Not just a yes person.”

Ferguson encouraged people to challenge systemic racism. “One of the things that needs to change is to make sure prosecutors are seeking justice not just a conviction. Require prosecutors to be prosecuting on both sides of the issue before going after someone,” said Ferguson.

The winner of the 13th Congressional District Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary in the General Election on November 8.