Candidate Questionnaire: Richard Watkins, US House District 4 – INDY Week

candidate-questionnaire:-richard-watkins,-us-house-district-4-–-indy-week

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Richard L Watkins

Age: 37

Party affiliation: Democratic 

Campaign website: https://www.richardlwatkins.com/

Occupation & employer: CEO/Founder, The Science Policy Action Network, Inc.  

Years lived in North Carolina: 30 years

1. What are your primary concerns for the State of North Carolina? Our future is precious and worth protecting. With this in mind, my top priorities are:

1) The Climate Crisis; 

2) Wealth Disparities; and 

3) Healthcare. I am running for US Congress to protect your future and the futures of those you love most.

2. What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of this state effectively? What would you cite as your biggest career accomplishments?

Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Science sets North Carolina a part from every other state in the US.  As a scientist who graduated from both UNC-CH and Fayetteville State University, I am a product of all the things that make our state, and our district special, a district, which by the way, has more scientist than any other district in America.

ï  CEO and Founder of the Science Policy Action Network, Inc.

ï  Virologist (Scientist that studies viruses)

ï  Program Coordinator of the Chancellor's Science Scholars at UNC-CH (The nation’s number 1 undergraduate scientific training program).

I served as the first African American President of the UNC chapter of Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honors Society, one of our country’s largest and oldest scientific societies.

Coordinated the COVID response for the CME (over 2,000 churches nation wide) Church within the Conference of National Black Churches.

I also worked on Governor Roy Cooper’s transition, where I analyzed and reported on North Carolina’s scientific and technological landscape and capacities.   

I also conducted an in-depth statewide analysis of North Carolina’s legislative response to the climate crisis, an analysis, which to this day is the first and only one of its kind in the country.

3. If elected, what three policies would you prioritize and how would you work across the aisle to enact those initiatives?

Doubling the federal expenditures on science and technology

Medicare for All

Eliminating the influence of money on both campaigning and governance

With the exception of Medicare for All, all of the above mentioned policy priorities have massive bi-partisan support.  As for Medicare for All, the people need healthcare; I will always prioritize the needs of the people over the needs a political party.    

4. What factors are fueling the country’s growing political polarization and how will you work to mend it? 

The influence of money on both campaigns and governance is driving political polarization, and the rise of social media has served to catalyze this polarization.

5. With rent, property taxes, and home sale prices all rising, what, if anything, should the federal government do to address this growing affordability crisis?  

Across the country, the cost of living has gone up but wages have remained stagnant.  This has decreased the purchasing power of around 99% of Americans and has made the unhoused the fastest growing demographic in the US.  The federal government must push for both Universal basic income and also an increase in the minimum wage to at least 15/hour.   

6. What specific policies or programs do you endorse or would pursue to combat inflation?  

We have to invest in innovation, which is the only way to grow the economy.  We must also increase taxes on the top .01% of our nation’s economy, implement a wealth tax, and increase corporate tax.  We then must use the revenue from that taxation to both increase the purchasing power for the vast majority of Americans and to replenish the federal reserve.

7. The U.S. Supreme Court may issue a ruling this summer that guts, or even overturns, Roe v. Wade. What must Congress do to protect abortion rights if that happens?

Codify Roe vs Wade

Real the Hyde amendment

Expand the US Supreme Court

8. Please state three specific policies you support to address climate change.

Increase the federal expenditures on science, technology, and innovation

Increasing the federal support for wind and solar and quickly weaning ourselves off of oil and gas.  We need to update our electrical grip in order to meet the increased demands of a modern energy economy.

Reducing and ultimately eliminating the destruction of our natural carbon sinks while simultaneously restoring them.   

9. Do you believe Congress should pass the Freedom to Vote Act to guarantee free and fair elections for every American, limit the impact of money on elections, and restrict gerrymandering? 

Yes

10. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?

Ending qualified immunity

Ensuring faculty, staff, and administrators of HBCUs get paid the same amount as their counterparts at historically white institutions.

I support reparations

I believe in 12-year congressional term limits.

Repeal the lawful commerce in arms Act.

Through incentives, create a minimum lawful teacher salary, which would increase the teacher pay in NC by at least $20,000.

Enhance our nation’s cyber security capacities

Addressing domestic security threats with a specific focus on the growing threat of white extremism

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