Debra Conrad

Age: 63.

Profession: President of Conrad Marketing Specialists LLC; North Carolina broker's license; former chemist and microbiologist at WFU medical school's Urology Department.

Education: Attended Forsyth County public schools; 1970 graduate of R.J. Reynolds High School; 1974 bachelor’s degree in medical technology from Wake Forest University.

Leadership experience: Currently I am vice chair of the N.C. House Commerce and Job Development Committee; past director of Winston-Salem Business Inc.; past board member of Winston-Salem Chamber for 17 years; past Forsyth County Library Board member; past Tourism Development Authority member for 16 years; past member of the Regional Triad Film Commission; former trustee of Novant Health; former member of Bethabara Park Board.

Political/civic experience: Past president of the Forsyth County Republican Women; a Forsyth County commissioner for 18 years; N.C. State House 2012 to present; sustainer in the Winston-Salem Junior League.

Top priority if elected: Economic development and job creation; improving public schools; wise spending of state funds, lowering taxes and working to restore the film tax credits.

Q: Did the state do enough to safeguard our rivers and lakes from coal ash and other pollutants? Why or why not?

Answer: Coal Ash ponds have been around for a century and the Democrats were in charge most of that time overseeing DENR. Obviously not enough oversight of the 32 ponds was done. The Republicans this session have aggressively addressed coal ash with one of the first bills in the nation. The state's regulatory agency is instructed to work quickly on a prioritized plan of action to clean up all coal ash ponds to protect our water.

Q: Should North Carolina expand the Affordable Care Act health care coverage to include the national exchanges? Why or why not?

Answer: No. Our Medicaid system is broken and fraud is far too common. Medicaid reform will be the top priority of the 2015 long session as it already costs the state $5 billion in state dollars and an additional $10 billion in federal dollars. The cost is out of control and the health outcomes for this population needs to be improved. The rising cost of Medicaid has had a negative impact on the budget.

Q: Would you support an increase to the state’s minimum wage? Why or why not?

Answer: No. Minimum wage is not supposed to be a permanent way of life, but an initial job to work up the employment ladder in the American way. I believe that raising the minimum wage would have a negative impact on job creation. We need to encourage and offer educational opportunities, apprenticeships and workforce development programs to help individuals improve their employment opportunities and increase their paychecks.

Q: Would you increase funding for K-12 education in North Carolina? If yes, where would increases go? If no, why not?

Answer: As the revenue picture improves in North Carolina, funding should be increased. Voters need to know total education funding is already 56 percent of the state budget and that the 8.1 billion in state dollars for K-12 ranks 8th in the nation. Additional funds should be targeted where it helps the students educational outcomes the most in the classroom setting. Children are our future and I have two grandchildren headed to public school soon.

Q: What course of action should the state now take concerning Amendment One and the federal court’s ruling on allowing same-sex marriage in North Carolina?

Answer: Amendment One was passed by 61 percent of the voters in North Carolina. Liberal activist judges are trying to change the will of the majority. I agree with Gov. McCrory that we need to continue to defend the issue of traditional marriage and the values of this state until the time that the U.S. Supreme Court decides to rule on same-sex marriage.

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