Q&A with Terri LeGrand
(NC House District 74)
Q. Why did you decide to run for office? It takes so much energy, work, effort, time away from your family, your job, your life. What is so important to you that you felt compelled to do this?
Until the 2016 election, I was focused on raising my girls and trying to build a career and financial stability. I dedicated six years to a nonprofit startup. Although I had thought of running for office on and off throughout my life and always felt called to public service, those ideas had receded to very back of my mind.
Within just two days of the election of 2016, I had started thinking seriously about running for office. Because I realized that I could no longer depend on someone else to step up, take the risk, and do the hard work necessary to run for office. I believed that I had the experience and skills to lead effectively and that I had the energy and will to run a smart, effective campaign. And, in the Year of the Woman, I determined that if there was ever going to be a time for a progressive Democrat to win in northern Forsyth County and the Winston-Salem suburbs, this was it.
Q. You have such great experience as an education advocate, and knowledge of education funding. We remember the story President Obama told about how his mother would tutor him outside of school hours because his public school was so terrible. He complained and said, “I don’t want to do this with you,” and she shot right back, “You think I wanna be doing this with you? But we have to.” How has your own experience demonstrated the importance of a solid education?
The story I have about how education changed someone’s life is my dad’s story. And I have told this story many times since I started running for office. My dad grew up in a big family. He was one of eight children. My grandmother had six sons by the time she was 24 years old. My grandpa worked on the railroad. The family believed in hard work but did not really understand the value of education. Fortunately for my dad, he had a teacher who recognized his potential and encouraged him to go to college.
My dad entered college with no support from family and no money. He worked his way through college working the third shift as a janitor in a toy factory. He then continued on to medical school. His ability to live the American dream through higher education changed the trajectory for our family forever.
Q. Do you have a personal health care story?
I have two daughters. My older daughter started fainting when she was in ninth grade. She was constantly sick. It would take her weeks to get over a common cold. In tenth grade, she got mono and was bedridden for six weeks. Then she got mono again almost exactly one year later - although the doctors said it was impossible to get mono twice. She spent weeks in bed.
For four years, I took her from doctor to doctor. Many doctors were just dismissive - “she just has a virus.” Others gave her test after test. Finally, in December of her senior year in high school, I took her to an integrative health clinic at Duke. They had a theory and scheduled a follow up test. That test, a tilt-table test, was conclusive. She had POTS -- Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
Over the four years that we struggled to find a diagnosis for her, I incurred hundreds of dollars in medical bills and missed countless hours and days of work. Fortunately for me, I have excellent health insurance, a good job that pays well, and an understanding boss. I was able to pay the bills we incurred, and I was never at risk of losing my job. I fully understand what a privilege that is.
I believe that every mom should be able to take the time that they need to care for a sick child without risk of losing her job. I believe that everyone should have health care that insures them against incurring insurmountable debt to obtain the care they need.
Q. Why are you fighting for clean air and water? What does it mean to you on a personal level?
I am fighting for clean air and clean water because both are required for us to live and because those who are affected by pollution are disproportionately poor and minority. Access to clean air and clean water is a social justice issue. The health of the people should never be sacrificed to short-term corporate profits.
I am a big believer that working together, we can build communities where people want to live and work. Those communities will have clean air and clean water, a transportation infrastructure that promotes walking, biking, and public transportation, green spaces and recreational areas, and good jobs where people are challenged and have opportunities to grow and advance.
Q. Gerrymandering is clearly a huge problem, practically a statewide emergency, but people’s eyes tend to glaze over at the sound of the word. How do you demonstrate to people what gerrymandering is and why it’s so detrimental to good government?
A picture of my district easily explains gerrymandering. It is the “top half of the donut.” Forsyth County is divided into four districts that are considered completely safe - two held by Republicans and two held by Democrats. It’s pretty easy to convince people of this by showing them the picture.
Q. How do you talk to unaffiliated voters who might have a more skeptical view of taxes? How do you explain to them why public investment is so important?
I talk about investing in public education, in higher education and job training programs, and in our teachers. Tax cuts since 2013 have disproportionately benefited corporations and high income individuals. We should freeze tax rates at the current level, rolling back additional cuts scheduled to take place in January.
Q. What is your position on gun control?
I support common-sense gun safety reform. My highest priority is to implement red flag laws that ensure due process rights are not violated but provide law enforcement with the process to remove guns from individuals deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. These laws will not only make us safer but will also ensure that people who need mental health and other services will receive them.
How to help: victory in this race — NC House District 74 — may be decided by as little as a hundred votes. “Says Terri, “In the Year of the Woman, I determined that if there was ever going to be a time for a progressive Democrat to win in northern Forsyth County and the Winston-Salem suburbs, this was it.” But she needs our help to make it a reality. Donate to Terri’s campaign here.