Editor’s note: N.C. Policy Watch is chatting with some of the newest members of the N.C. General Assembly to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. The 2017 session of the legislature gets underway Wednesday, January 11.
Name: Philip A. Lehman
Occupation: Retired attorney (former Special Deputy Attorney General with the North Carolina Department of Justice)
Lives in: Durham
From: Moved to Durham in 1975 from Washington, DC
Family: wife Judy Kincaid; two adult sons
Campaign website: n/a
Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, continuing education
Previous elected offices? None
Why did you run for office? (*note, Lehman did not run for office, but was selected to replace the late Rep. Paul Luebke): I was honored to be selected to take the place of my good friend, the late Rep. Paul Luebke. I hope to carry on his legacy of standing for voting rights, tax fairness, environmental protection and public education.
What do you think will be the biggest issue at the legislature this year? Achieving a state budget that adequately provides for education and health care that is paid for by a fair and progressive tax policy.
What’s one specific campaign promise that you’d like to deliver on? Repeal of HB2. Besides removing the badge of discrimination from North Carolina, it would be the simplest step the General Assembly could take to help create jobs and improve the state’s economy.
Do you support a full repeal of House Bill 2? Why or why not? Yes. I believe a full repeal of HB2 could be enacted if the Republican leadership allowed an open floor vote.
How do you feel about the minimum wage in North Carolina ($7.25 an hour)? Should it be raised or kept the same? Income inequality is a growing problem in the U.S. and North Carolina. A minimum wage increase would be a step to address that problem. At a minimum, our cities, which have higher living costs, should be allowed to adjust their local minimum wages.
Is the state’s funding for public education enough? No, per pupil expenditures have not kept up with our increase in school age population. And funding cuts have made our public universities less nationally competitive.
What changes do you think need to be made in the public education system? Any changes should not be top-down decisions dictated by political ideology or current fads but done in full consultation with teachers and the education community.
What leader do you look up to the most? Why? From my coming of age era, Robert F. Kennedy. He passionately believed that government could be a positive force to improve people’s lives and was able to inspire citizens across race, class and political lines.
Name your pet peeve: Ideologues who don’t analyze or think through their positions.
Contact information: He can be reached at (919)733-766, or Philip.Lehman@ncleg.net.