Bonnie Clark, candidate for N.C. House, wants to make N.C. “a place to call home”

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2018

By Andie Foley

For North Carolina House of Representatives-hopeful Bonnie Clark, the journey toward public office began in 2016 with the passage of House Bill 2, North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill.”

Clark, a Democrat running for District 77, said the bill’s passage was one of many North Carolina legislator decisions that caused her “grave concerns.”

“I believe in common sense governance, and I am struck by the hypocrisy that I see in the people currently governing us,” she said. “On the one hand they say they’re for small government, and yet they were trying to legislate what’s under your pants when you go in a bathroom.”

So the Davie County farmer did what she could: she attempted to start a dialogue with her local representative. But her attempts accomplished little.

She wrote letters. She made phone calls. She posted on Facebook. Eventually, she filled out a survey on Emily’s List, a national political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice female candidates to office.

The survey asked many questions: was she willing to participate in protests? Was she willing to send letters or make phone calls? Was she willing to run for office?

Clark said she answered “yes” to all of the above.

And then she received a call from North Carolina Senator Jeff Jackson asking her to run for North Carolina’s 31st Senate District, a request that changed when Democrat John Motsinger filed for the same seat. The House of Representatives in District 77 needed a Democratic challenger.

Reluctant or otherwise, Clark said she felt like she had little choice but to step up. She ran unopposed in the primary and will face Republican incumbent Julia Craven Howard on November’s ballot.

“I’m a (Navy) veteran,” she said. “Because of that, I have a really strong sense of duty. … There are issues that I cannot be silent on, and I feel like I have to do everything in my power to restore North Carolina to a place that people want to call home again.”

For Clark, large areas of concern for North Carolina and its 77th District center around farming and the environment.

“There are more farmer suicides than any other occupation in the country because people can’t pay their bills. They’re losing their farms. Their children don’t want to maintain that lifestyle,” she said. “The family farm model is almost not at all viable any more.”

Clark wants to change that. She also wants to ensure that North Carolina isn’t subjected to fracking or offshore drilling.

“Tourism is one of the most important industries for the whole state of North Carolina,” she said. “We already experienced hundreds of millions of dollars of loss because of HB2, because people of conscience wouldn’t come here. … If we poison our land and our water, we’re not going to have tourists coming here.”

Accordingly, Clark wants to make it a criminal act for the CEO of a company if his or her company pollutes.

Clark also said she envisions restorations to North Carolina’s public school and health care systems: she wants higher teacher pay, smaller classroom sizes and expanded and affordable health care for all.

All of these things will lead to more jobs, she said, as would another cause high on her agenda: the legalization of cannabis.

“If we decriminalize cannabis, we will have beaucoup bucks flowing into this state,” she said. “… We are not going to have to raise taxes. We’re not going to have to ask anybody to go into their pocket.”

She also said states that legalized cannabis saw decreases in opioid overdoses, “because it is an effective pain remedy.”

Asked why citizens should vote for her, Clark said it’s because she will truly listen.

“I will truly do what I can to address the concerns, the needs, the wants of people while also educating them,” she said. “I will work work to make North Carolina great again, but I need you to help me do that. If we elect all new people in our state legislature, we’ve got a good chance of doing that.”