State candidates debate issues at forum


Same sex marriage, medical marijuana and beach renourishment opinions were aired by Republican and Democratic candidates from Districts 7, 8 and 9 during a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Lower Cape Fear on Wednesday, April 16.

The Republican candidates for New Hanover County’s District 9 Senate seat, Michael Lee, Justin LaNasa and Michael Burns, shared similar views on each of the nine questions they were asked about North Carolina government. The opinions they expressed were directly opposite of District 8 Democratic Senate candidates Danny Hefner and Ernie Ward with the exception of the issues of medical marijuana, teacher salaries, coal ash management and beach renourishment.

Both sides agreed medical marijuana should be legal in some form in North Carolina if the proper safety checks are put in place; supported the increase of public school teacher salaries; agreed Duke Energy should be responsible for the cleanup of coal ash waste; and supported increased state funding for beach renourishment projects.

One issue the two sides differed on was if North Carolina should recognize same sex couples married in other states where the marriage is legal.

Republican candidate Michael Lee said recognition of same sex marriages in North Carolina would fly in the face of what voters have spoken for: one man, one woman. LaNasa said he would not recognize same sex marriages from other states.

Burns said the state should not infringe on the marriage rights granted to same sex couples in other states.

“As a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I stand with our church’s issues and their stand against gay marriage,” Burns said. “I do not believe that North Carolina should deny the right of any citizen that is married in another state the protections they are granted, however, for my personal beliefs I do believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Hefner said unrecognizing same sex marriages formed in other states would be unconstitutional, citing the full faith and credit clause in the U.S. Constitution.

Ward said who you love is personal and would vote yes.

Democratic United States House of Representative

The candidate forum also featured Democratic U.S. House of Representative District 7 candidates, Jonathan Barfield Jr. and Walter Martin Jr. The two candidates answered questions about strategies to reduce the national debt crises, the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, military de-escalation, minimum wage, Edward Snowden and national security.

Both candidates said they support the Affordable Care Act, did not support Common Core teaching standards, consider Edward Snowden a traitor and support the need for more funding for the Port of Wilmington.

In response to President Barack Obama’s push to increase the national minimum wage average to $10.10, Barfield said he would support the increase in favor of “livable wages,” whereas Martin said he would not support it immediately.

“If I would vote for it, it would not be now because we don’t know the full effects of what the Affordable Care Act will do to small businesses,” Martin said.



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