The Outer Banks enjoys the benefits of being a major vacation destination, and our economic viability rests on the shoulders of the workers who serve our visitors. Most, however, cannot afford to live here for two reasons—low minimum wages and a lack of affordable housing.
Studies show that a living wage for our region is $17 per hour, $10 above the state minimum wage. That disparity forces many people to work two or three jobs or live elsewhere and travel long distances to work. The consequence is many service-sector workers in our region lead a precarious existence on the verge of failure, never attaining the financial security to make it through life’s ups and downs.
Even those who don’t face such perils struggle to live here. Teachers, police officers, first responders, and others who earn more than the minimum wage can’t find affordable housing—to own or to rent. Skilled and talented people accept jobs here but end up leaving, because they couldn’t find a place to live.
Dare Democrats are committed to establishing a living minimum wage while sustaining the ability of local businesses to prosper. We are equally determined to find solutions for providing more affordable housing.
Whether by passing regulation or by helping businesses recognize their moral obligation to their fellow humans, we will continue to advocate, march, and protest for what is surely a right—the right to receive a working wage that enables people to live in the community they serve.
Dare Democrats recognize that the strength of our community depends directly on the health of the people who live here. As a rural county, Dare is largely made up of middle- and lower-income residents, who often lack the safety net needed to ensure their health and well-being. Therefore, we support the expansion of Medicaid, childcare subsidies, SNAP (food stamps), and other programs that help those who need assistance in caring for their health needs.
Dare Democrats support the state’s historic commercial fishing industry and the approximate $725M it contributes to the state’s gross economy. According to the Division of Marine Fisheries, the sales impact of the harvesting and sale of commercial seafood is $388,325,000, and the income impact of employed commercial fisherman is $166,066,000.
Changes in water temperatures due to climate change and removal of laws to protect water quality and habitat can’t be mitigated by taking the proverbial “canaries in the mine” off the water.
First came the Washington elites who set their sights on eliminating the Department of Education and, with it, the public-education system. Next came the North Carolina General Assembly, which created a statewide class-size crisis that leaves curricula, teachers, and students hanging in the air. Then, the General Assembly made elections for Dare’s Board of Education a political issue. It all begs the question, “Who’s watching out for our children?”
Dare Democrats are. We believe all children deserve equal access to a high-caliber public education in a safe environment—one that fosters the “whole child.” We work to ensure our children get an education that stimulates learning and creativity, promotes curiosity and thinking, fosters teamwork in classrooms and sports, and builds strong character. We favor providing ample opportunities for advanced learners, at-risk students, and students with special needs. We also stand firmly behind programs that support hungry children and those needing after-school attention. We advocate all this so that our schools can equip and enable Dare students to head for college, pursue a skilled vocation, or start a career in the professional world.
Teachers, too, deserve safe environments and the compensation that reflects our respect for what they do. Dare Democrats support adequate funding for teacher salaries and the tools, technology, and supplies needed for teaching. We favor efforts to reduce class size but oppose federal and state mandates that come without sufficient funding. We also oppose measuring teacher quality from the results of high-stakes tests. We want to see such tests reduced to an essential few and expanded to measure skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
From the desk of a single Dare County child all the way to the desk of a U.S. legislator, Dare Democrats will work to achieve a well-rounded public-education system that lays the groundwork for our children to succeed—as income earners, innovators, job creators, informed consumers, and, especially, engaged citizens.
Single-use plastic bags are a major source of beach litter, a major contributor to toxins in the ocean, and a threat to marine mammals and aquatic life. Dare Democrats agree with the citizens, civic leaders, and businesses of Dare County: single-use plastic bags don’t belong here and their use should be banned. Unfortunately, the Republicans elected to serve our county—Representative Beverly Boswell and Senator Bill Cook—worked to repeal the ban on plastic bags, preferring, instead, to serve lobbyists and others who neither work nor live here.
Dare Democrats believe the 2011 ban was a good measure of protection against the risks plastic bags pose. Working with civic organizations and nonprofits, we are encouraging merchants to keep following the guidance of the 2011 ban. We also will continue our efforts to convince the legislature to reinstate the original ban.
Offshore drilling for oil and natural gas has been a recurring issue on the Outer Banks for nearly 30 years. And for 30 years, Outer Bankers have held it at bay. Now, the Trump administration wants to open more than 90% of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf for potential oil and gas exploration. It would be the biggest auction of offshore leases in U.S. history.
Dare County Democrats believe offshore drilling must never be permitted here or anywhere along our state’s coast. We’re fully aware that the risks drilling poses far outweigh the possible rewards. A large oil spill could destroy our $1.1 billion tourism industry and the 13,000-plus jobs it generates. Such a catastrophe would likely obliterate our local fishing industry and deliver a devastating blow to our property values. Drilling also presents an ongoing danger to our local wildlife, marine life, and birds.
Claims by big oil and gas companies that large spills rarely happen fail to acknowledge the small, toxic spills that occur all the time. For instance, a Louisiana environmental group analyzed Coast Guard data and found the Gulf of Mexico experienced 479 offshore drilling accidents in 2016 alone.
Dare Democrats are committed to taking every step needed to prevent “Big Oil” from profiting at our community’s expense. We will neither accept funding from the industry nor let state and federal governments designate our area as an acceptable loss. Dare Democrats value life more than money—just like the overwhelming majority of people who live here.
Because of grossly partisan and unconstitutional redistricting following the 2010 census, the North Carolina General Assembly has created congressional and state legislative districts that are racist and partisan. The state is now considered to be the least democratic in the country, and its voting boundaries are ranked among the worst in the world.
Dare Democrats fully support the work of nonpartisan organizations seeking to correct this crime. We are committed to establishing a nonpartisan process that ensures our citizens are treated fairly in accordance with the U.S. Constitution.
Women have crusaded, worked, and lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for nearly a century. Still, they haven’t gained a legal status equal to that of men. Today, the ERA is just two states shy of obtaining the 38 needed for passage. Dare Democrats believe North Carolina should be one of them.
We, along with an overwhelming majority of Outer Bankers, support ERA passage. It would extend equal pay entitlements to women and men and combat pregnancy discrimination in the workforce. It would help assure meaningful legal protection for victims of sexual and violent crimes occurring in marriage. And, it would provide consistency of protection, state to state.
ERA bills will be proposed in the NC General Assembly House early in 2019. The goal for 2018 is to get all 100 NC counties to follow the example set by Dare’s Board of Commissioners and persuade our state government to ratify the amendment. Meanwhile, Dare Democrats are working with the NC League of Women Voters and the ERA-NC Alliance to ensure equal rights under the law becomes the rule and not the exception.
The Outer Banks has long been an attractive place for seniors and retirees. Improved hospital care, public transportation, and diverse cultural events have added to the area’s appeal. Many challenges remain, however, and as our retired community grows, the demand for services will only increase.
Already, too many seniors are forced to leave the area in search of flexible options in residential care. Dare Democrats will work to improve and maintain the quality of care at existing facilities. We will also work to expand the range of residential options for seniors, including facilities for independent living, assisted living, and full-time nursing care.
Along with residential care, Dare Democrats support expanding and improving services for those seniors and caregivers facing the challenges of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Dare County Democrats believe that science-based, low-impact aquaculture can be a viable way to augment seafood needs. However, the mass giveaway of public-trust waters without proper planning, public discourse, and rules to ensure sustainable use is not in the public’s best interest nor is it compatible with the public’s right of access to coastal waters.
Dare County Democrats are proud that North Carolina is an Open Government state, because openness ensures our public officials are held accountable to the citizens. However, a number of legislators have made a habit of flagrantly violating these principals. We demand our public officials be held accountable for following Open Government laws, and that the state stop shielding these violators.