Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Democrats to decide who will challenge Galey in November

Next month’s Democratic primary will allow voters to choose between two potential contenders for the state senate seat that’s currently held by Republican Amy Scott Galey.

At first blush, Galey’s would-be challengers John Coleman and Donna Vanhook both have the ideological credentials that are likely to appeal to Democratic Party’s rank and file when they head to the polls. Both are pro-choice, pro-public school, and favorable to an increase in the minimum wage. Both candidates also support higher taxes on corporations, expanded background checks for gun purchases, and development initiatives that would benefit the less fortunate.

Yet, there are also some differences between Vanhook and Coleman – and The Alamance News managed to tease out a few of these distinctions through the issues questionnaire it presented to each of the candidates.

When asked about taxation, Vanhook is more skeptical of the two candidates about the state’s current tax rates. She suggests, for example, that both personal income and sales should be less heavily taxed although she adds that the corporate tax rates ought to be increased. Coleman, in contrast, finds the state’s tax burden to generally be “about right,” although he likewise supports a hike in the corporate rates.

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Both Vanhook and Coleman believe that the state should be more generous with traditional public schools and more circumspect in its support of charter schools. Coleman, who broadly favors “a sound, funded, and equitable education for all students,” insists that the state should demand “more accountability” of how charter schools treat special needs students. Meanwhile, Vanhook calls for the elimination of private school vouchers and is also generally wary of charter schools, which are theoretically public but independent of local school systems.

“Charter schools need better oversight,” she goes on to assert, “or they should be eradicated.”

Coleman and Vanhook both favor some measure of publicly-funded incentives to encourage corporate development. Coleman argues that such subsidies can make a community a more attractive place for companies to move or expand.

“This will boost state and local revenues,” he adds, “and bring more jobs to the area.”

Vanhook is more cautious, however, about how the state doles out incentives, stressing that the funds should benefit “marginalized communities” without causing “environmental harm” or being used to “disenfranchise” their residents.

On the issue of gun control, Coleman supports “expanded background checks” as well as a minimum age of 21 to purchase firearms but states no position on a potential assault weapons ban. Vanhook supports both an assault weapons ban and an increased minimum age – and she notes her overall penchant for “sensible gun laws” as “a handgun owner and former law enforcement officer.”

The two candidates are nevertheless disinclined toward state-level restrictions in two other areas.

Each of the two Democrats supports the legalization of marijuana to one degree or another.  Vanhook says she’s willing to allow marijuana for medical purposes and for personal, recreational use in small quantities. Meanwhile, Coleman is far more exuberant about the prospect of new, more laissez faire approach to this intoxicating herb.

“Legalize!” he exclaims. “It will boost the economy and agricultural sectors [and] will also allow more participation in the workforce.”

The two candidates also stake out roughly similar positions on abortion, seeing it as a “constitutionally-protected right” that should not be limited by the General Assembly in Raleigh. Coleman also opposes a ban on partial birth abortions, which he contends is “a myth,” although he would countenance the use of state funds to end a pregnancy only if the life of the mother or the “quality of life of the child” are at issue.

Vanhook, for her part, offers a far more general stance on this same issue.

“I believe in a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body, medically,” she contends. “It is healthcare for women and should be funded [by the state] as it was prior to legislation to ban abortions.”

Each candidate’s full response to the newspaper’s questionnaire appears HERE.  Biographical information can be found here:

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