05/01/08 — Stone will set sights on health care for families

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Stone will set sights on health care for families

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on May 1, 2008 2:01 PM

After spending the last few months going door-to-door throughout the fifth state Senate district, Chuck Stone knows who is hoping to represent -- average, working North Carolinians.

But he acknowledged that whoever ultimately wins the election in November is going to have a tough job consistently covering the whole district, which begins in southern Wayne County, includes all of Greene and reaches into Greenville.

But, Stone, one of two Goldsboro residents running for the Democratic nomination, he is confident that if he is elected, said he won't have any problem representing the whole district.

"Certainly my intent, if elected, will be to set up a rotation schedule," he said.

And while he doesn't have the resources to establish offices in each county, he feels sure that he will be able to find ways to be accessible to his constituents.

"I certainly think it's important for any elected official to have time to sit and talk with average citizens," he said.

And as he has done that this election season, he is finding that most people are worried about their economic security, including job security, ability to access health care, gas prices and the price of food staples like bread and milk.

Of those, Stone explained, as the director of North Carolinians for Affordable Health Care and a retired O'Berry Center administrator, he is most concerned about health care.

"Health insurance and access to health care are the keys of my campaign," he said.

In particular, he wants to expand Medicaid guidelines for children, expand the state's Health Choice for Children program and ensure that health insurance is provided for all children.

To pay for those items, he is proposing a mix of federal, state and tobacco trust fund money be used. He also believes that as those dollars enter the health care economy, they will help generate more economic activity and therefore more tax revenue.

Additionally, to encourage small businesses to provide health coverage for their employees, Stone is proposing a combination of tax credits, the merging of the small business and individual health insurance markets and possible state subsidies.

But, he emphasized, in talking to resident throughout the district, he is not just a single-issue candidate.

He is also interested in finding ways to improve education and economic development -- but all with an eye toward helping the average working family.

That's why he goes door-to-door in all kinds of neighborhoods, including one area of subsidized housing in Goldsboro where he met an older black lady whom he said was surprised to see him there.

"She said, 'We've never seen any of the candidates in the projects.' And my response was, well you're a citizen and a voter, too," he said.

Because it is in times of recession and economic downturn, he explained, that "the need for state services actually increases" and people like that woman need help.

And that's the message he wants to carry to Raleigh.

"People are falling through the safety nets and that's what keeps me going. Their situations and their issues are what keep me going. Most of my life has been spend advocating for working families," Stone said. "And too often legislation is crafted by special interest groups and does not help the average family.

"The one message I want to take to Raleigh is that the interests of those working families are going to be given a voice in the General Assembly."