Residents in Eastern North Carolina are less than three months away from casting their ballots in the mid-term elections. This PRE elections' series spotlights their voices on the issues that matter most to them. In this part, voters in Carteret County express their views on state and local issues.
Beaufort resident Chris Deiuliis, 62, is registered unaffiliated, but identifies as a Democrat. He says education is one of the primary issues facing the state today.
“Are we going to have a quality school system statewide for our students? Our future rests with our students,” he said.
Deiuliis, who works at Carteret Health Care, says the state should pay teachers more and reduce class sizes. He says he also thinks too much emphasis is placed on standardized testing.
“Education is not just rote memory and answering multiple choice questions. Education is about critical thinking and being able to make informed and wise decisions in a highly complex world,” he said. “We focus too much, I think, on standardized tests, rather than educating our young people to assimilate knowledge and critically evaluate that knowledge.”
He says he’s also concerned about the lack of infrastructure to support a growing local population. “I think our infrastructure improvements should parallel the increases in population. Sometimes we are so anxious to provide jobs and places to live and spur economic development that in the long run we don’t look at what’s needed to support such growth,” he said.
Local issues were also on the mind of Beaufort resident Gary Wilson, 41, who’s also registered as an unaffiliated voter. Wilson, who’s employed at a restaurant downtown, says he’s unhappy with the town’s recent decision to expand metered parking along Front Street, near his work.
“Beaufort is a tourist town -- you want to come here to relax. You need to just park your car and walk all day,” he said. “You don’t need to park your car and worry about when your meter is going to run out in an hour. It just kind of defeats the purpose of what Beaufort is.”
For him, health care is another important issue, Wilson said.
“As a 41-year-old male, I can’t get any help with health care because I’m single and have no dependents. Yet, here I am, post-heart attack, triple bypass, no insurance,” he said.
North Carolina is one of 17 states that still have not expanded Medicaid to residents who would qualify for it under Obamacare. Wilson says he thinks state lawmakers need to make that happen.
“As much as I’m not a socialist, we need more of a socialistic standing or setup in our system. It doesn’t mean we have to be socialist,” Wilson said. “It just means we have to look out for each other more when it comes to health care.”
Morehead City resident Cheryl Sebring, 65, is a registered Democrat. She says she thinks socialism is too often viewed negatively. “When you think of socialism in the United States, think of our roads and bridges, think of our public libraries, think of the subway system when you are in Washington D.C. Those are socialist concepts.”
For Sebring, the environment is an important issue. She says she’s particularly concerned with the health of the ocean. “It is time for us to accept that the ocean can no longer provide for all of our tables. We cannot ask that of the ocean. It is in trouble. It is dying. We need to look to aquaculture. We need to be growing our oysters on farms,” she said.
Carteret County voters’ mid-term elections ballots will include several contested state and county races, along with six proposed state constitutional amendments. Election Day is Nov. 6. Early voting begins on Oct. 17.