The Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature, the first time the GOP has led both houses since 1898, is a huge shift in power that’s brought a lot of new faces, and people new to doing business on Jones Street. In what we hope is a regular feature this session, N.C. Policy Watch will try to talk with some of the newest members to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. This will be an ongoing feature, with the goal of profiling all the new members. Haven’t been contacted for your profile yet? New legislators can contact reporter Sarah Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Sen. Gladys Robinson (Democrat)
Hometown: Greensboro (represents Guilford County)
Family: Widow. Husband Ladison Robinson died in 2008 from illnesses; two grown daughters, two grandchildren.
Occupation: Executive director of Piedmont Health Services & Sickle Cell Agency
Education: Bennett College (undergraduate); N.C A&T (master’s and Ph.D.)
Previous political experience: No.
Organizations (charities, churches, civic groups) you’re active in: member, asst. church clerk, choir member and Sunday School teacher at Providence Baptist Church, served on the University Board of Governors; Greensboro Citizen and Visitors Board, board of trustees at Bennett College, education chair for local and state NAACP chapters; board member for HealthServe Medical Center (first indigent community health clinic in Greensboro, served on first N.C. Commission on the Education of Minorities and At-Risk Students in 1999 and the recent state Commission to Raising Achievement & Closing Gaps.
Biggest political influences: Former N.C. Sens. Katie Dorsett and Bill Martin, N.C Chief Justice Henry Frye
Hobbies: sings in church choir, sewing, enjoys walking, exercising, and travel
Any pet peeves?: “I don’t like people accepting situations to be status quo, ‘it’s going to be that way and I can’t do anything about it.’ You’re not always going to win, but you can work to change it.”
How you plan on unwinding from the legislative session? “I don’t get frustrated. I get tired, like normal people. I try to exercise in the morning. I ‘m an early riser, I get up at 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. at the latest. When I’m in Raleigh, I’ll try to get the gym. I’ll also read the Bible to get my focus. For me, it’s about resting. I’m kind of energized from what I do. Rest for me, is about when I get back, spending time just with me and sitting down and relaxing, reading, catching up and reflecting. I may have a dinner with a girlfriend or something, and I reserve my Sundays for church.”
Why’d you run?: “I have been interested in political office for a very long time. I was always very involved in activities and issues in the community whether it was for advocating for other people and their children about housing, health care and jobs. I’ve always advocated for education and equality. I’ve been involved in this community for a very long time trying to make sure we improve the quality of life for some people. With my husband’s health, my children going up, it was never the right time. I now have the time, I have the interest and I have the aptitude to do it. I’m excited to do it.”
What are you expecting from this session? I know there will be some budget cuts, I know there are some decisions to be made. Some of those decisions won’t be the best decisions. I hope that I’m going to be able to share a perspective that other people have. A lot of the folks in the General Assembly are lawyers and business people. Very few come from the community or non-profit centers. I have worked with people that have chronic diseases, that don’t have access to health care. I’ve worked with elderly people. I know the issues, about the elderly, people with chronic diseases, people who don’t have housing. We don’t live in a state that has a high (average) income and we have a state where people have had to seek free services. I hope I’m going to educate people about that and put a face on a lot of issues that we’re dealing with. People can cut services, but some of the time they don’t understand who it is that’s affected.”
What (policy-wise) keeps you up worrying at night, when it comes to state policy matters? “Nothing keeps up at night, I’m so tired that when I hit the bed, I go to sleep. But the budget and the folks that it’s going to impact worries me.”
Contact: 1120 Legislative Building, (919) 715-3042, Gladys.Robinson@ncleg.net