When U.S. Rep. David Price announced his retirement from Congress, N.C. Sen. Valerie Foushee, 65, received a mass of phone calls encouraging her to run to represent North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District.
“I didn’t decide to enter the race until I saw some of the others that had entered the field,” she said. “And so it made me consider it, at the urging of people that have served for more than 20 years. I do believe that I have, by way of experience, something that others are not able to offer.”
Foushee worked at the Chapel Hill Police Department for 21 years and was elected to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board in 1997. She also served on the Orange County Board of Commissioners before being elected to the state House. She has been a state senator for eight years. Currently chair of the N.C. Senate’s Democratic Caucus, she is most proud of the legislation she championed to end child marriage.
When Foushee was growing up in segregated North Carolina, her parents worked multiple jobs at a time rather than rely on government assistance, she said.
“They decided to rely on educating their children,” she said. “Education has opened doors and it has assured me that I can do anything within reason in life, given access and opportunity.”
As a result, education is one of Foushee’s top issues. If elected, she would advocate for universal pre-K and eliminating student debt.
Voting rights and protecting American democracy also sit at the top of Foushee’s agenda. She said she will do everything she can to end gerrymandering.
On crime, Foushee supports a national standard for policing that would enable officers to establish trusting relationships with their communities. Foushee believes that North Carolina’s Senate Bill 300 is a start towards criminal justice reform, but that more needs to be done. She does not support defunding the police, and instead says departments should be funded adequately. She also favors hiring more social workers to work alongside police officers, as the Chapel Hill Police Department did when she worked there.
“When I hear people talking about defunding the police, I wonder if that’s what the criminals are saying,” she said.
Foushee would also prioritize efforts to advance towards Medicare for All and to improve the Affordable Care Act. Whether or not she wins the election, she said she intends to remain active locally.
“If it is not their desire to serve as an elected official, I belong to four service organizations,” she said. “I will always serve in some way.”
Editor’s note: Read more about the contest in North Carolina’s 4th Congressional District here.
Above: Photo courtesy of Sen. Valerie Foushee