Jasmine’s Empathy-First Commitment to Western North Carolina
“I’m running for Congress to serve the people of WNC and respond to the urgent needs of our communities. This is a campaign based on love, hope, faith, empathy and the issues we can build tables around including early childhood education, addressing the opioid crisis, access to high-speed internet and spurring economic development.
It also means standing firm on our values, protecting our most vulnerable and advocating for policies that help our people not just survive, but get ahead.” – Jasmine
Our farming communities in WNC have deep roots; they’re a huge part of the fabric of these mountains. I’ll work with our ag producers on issues they have identified as priorities, such as bringing a processing plant to the region and funding programs so that farmers always have access to technical assistance and funding for the equipment and tools they need. As development pressures increase each year, preserving farmland and open space is vital. Through voluntary conservation measures such as land conservancy programs and conservation easements, we can keep our working farms in place for generations to come.
I’m a mom to three amazing kiddos and believe we have a shared responsibility to ensure that every child has an opportunity to thrive. In Buncombe County we have made historic investments in expanding early childhood education. Every family across WNC should have access to these same opportunities. This work begins in the first 2,000 days of a child’s life with access to healthy food and health care. In Congress, I will be a strong advocate to extend the childhood tax credit, expand paid family leave, help make childcare more affordable and enact universal pre-K. The federal child tax credit has been a lifeline to so many families and it needs to be extended.
It weighs on me that there are thousands of children across WNC who don’t have enough food to eat each day and live in poverty. Across Western North Carolina one in four children don’t have enough food to eat. More than 40% of children in Buncombe County live in low income households and we see similar trends across WNC. There is no excuse for childhood poverty in America. We have an opportunity—and a responsibility—to end generational childhood poverty. This would be a life-changer for so many of our children.
I will be a vote to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law in Congress.
My opponent, Chuck Edwards, supports a total ban on abortions. Such a ban would violate our constitutional rights, prevent North Carolinians from making their own health decisions, and lead to an unacceptable increase in maternal mortality rates. What we need to focus on is ensuring people have access to the health care and support they need at every stage of life, including around reproductive health.
I am a pro-choice pastor. Choice is deeply personal and there is just no place for the government—except in protecting the right to privacy guaranteed under the 14th amendment.
Climate change is real and we’re seeing its impact with wildfires, hurricanes and the flooding that has recently ravaged our communities here in Western North Carolina. We can’t wait to act. Addressing climate change must be a top priority and I will approach this with the urgency it deserves, as I have done on the County Commission.
My faith teaches me that we have a responsibility to be good stewards of our planet. In WNC we are blessed to live in the natural beauty of the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains, and we have an obligation to take care of this unique ecosystem.
This is about protecting our planet, protecting public health, and generating economic opportunities for our region by creating green jobs.
As a mom of three kids under 12 who cannot yet get vaccinated, I support vaccine and mask mandates in our public schools. And I support vaccine requirements or testing for companies with more than 100 employees. We need a full court press to get through the pandemic: vaccinations, masking, and continued focus on economic and community recovery.
It is unacceptable that Madison Cawthorn’s response to this pandemic has been to rail against vaccines and mask mandates, travel around the state to disrupt school board meetings and spread misinformation. This is not a game. We’re seeing so much sacrifice from so many: parents struggling to juggle home-schooling and jobs and now navigating in-person schooling; educators doing their best under impossible circumstances; people struggling with mental health and addiction; and our small businesses trying to stay open in a global pandemic.
Economic Opportunity & Job Creation
My focus is always on how we help working families not just tread water but actually thrive. This means not just keeping the lights on and making a mortgage or rent payment, but being in the position to save a little for retirement, send a kid to college, take a vacation once in a while or care for aging parents.
To do this, I’ll focus on the policies that are difference-makers between tremendous hardship and thriving. These include:
Strong public schools
Access to high-speed internet in every part of our district, especially rural areas
Working closely with our community colleges to develop job training programs focused on areas of economic development and job opportunities and to promote enrollment
Economic development projects from across sectors that pay a living wage and offer advancement opportunities
Rebuilding our infrastructure including addressing water and sewage needs, road and bridge repair and installing sidewalks and greenways
A big push to attract manufacturing jobs where Western North Carolina is uniquely poised to compete
Support for family farms
Enacting the kind of policies that help level the playing field and recruit and retain a strong, diverse workforce such as:
Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour: In Buncombe County we have worked to ensure that all county employees earn at least $15/hour.
Ensuring equal pay for equal work; women still make less for doing the same job and that needs to change
Paid Family Leave: I championed a paid family leave policy as county commissioner. It's the difference between rushing back to work the week after a child is born and having time to bond; it's the difference between trying to hold it together at work while a loved one is in the ICU and being by their bedside.
Public education should be the great leveler. As the daughter of a single mom who worked as a nurse, public schools gave me the chance to follow my dreams. Every child, regardless of zip code or family income, deserves the same. Access to pre-K education is a major focus of my work as county commissioner and I am proud that we successfully increased funding—because every child deserves this boost. We should be building a K-12 experience that prepares all of our kids to be community-ready, college-ready or career-ready; that means having the skills they need to unleash their potential and secure a good job that can support a family.
I support universal pre-K, strong funding for public schools, increasing teacher pay and free community college tuition.
We need to ensure that healthcare—from preventive care to treatment to prescriptions—is affordable and accessible; no one should hear a cancer diagnosis and then have to worry about being able to get treatment and whether it will bankrupt their family.
Health care is a basic right, and far too many people struggle because of our failure to treat it as such. This includes ensuring access to mental health care. My mom was a nurse and I saw the importance of this first hand growing up. I will prioritize actions that expand coverage as quickly as possible by building on the foundation of the ACA, and that includes supporting a public option as a next step. Right here in NC, our failure to expand Medicaid has had tremendous negative repercussions throughout our state and simply put, we need to expand Medicaid as soon as possible. Folks in rural communities are bearing the brunt of our broken system, as they have to navigate hospital closures and travel long distances for the care they need.
Higher Education & Student Loan Debt
My wife and I are still paying off our student loans. It’s a line in our monthly family budget just like I know it is for so many families. I support student loan debt relief because we can’t continue to saddle our young people with a pile of debt before they can even think about buying a first house or even taking out a loan to get a car.
Higher education, be it trade or vocational school, community college or a four year institution, should be accessible; we need to make it possible for everyone to get the skills they need to get a good family-supporting job without being saddled with a lifetime of debt. I’ve lived this. My mom worked two and three jobs at a time to send me to college.
More than 50 years ago, Governor Terry Sanford had a visionary idea to invest in a system of community colleges unlike any other across the South. We need to double down on supporting our community college system and working with them for job training opportunities so that people can get the skills training they need. We’re seeing good-paying manufacturing jobs coming to Western NC, and we need to make sure that we’re equipping our people with the skills they need to compete for these jobs.
I support legalizing marijuana and taxing it to create much-needed revenue for public education and drug treatment programs. From medicinal properties to supporting 21st century farming to economic development, it's time to legalize, regulate, and tax it.
This is also a matter of reforming our criminal justice system. We know that marijauna sentencing has disproportionately affected communities of color; it’s a systemic wrong that should be addressed immediately. Part of any legislation legalizing marijuana should also include plans to expunge past convictions.
I’m proud to be part of the LGBTQ community. I support passage of the Equality Act, which will ensure that LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination. Your zip code should not determine your rights. At every level of the federal government, from the Department of Education to the Department of Health and Human Services, we need policies that include LGBTQ people and address the specific disparities our community experiences. At a time when state bills targeting transgender youth continue to sweep the nation, we need to ensure that LGBTQ youth, in particular, hear a message that they are loved and supported and that this message is backed up by laws and policies to protect them.
Part of why this issue matters so much to me is experiences with addiction in my family. To turn the tides on this crisis, we need to make this a story of hope and break the stigma and silence around addiction. Addiction is a disease, and this understanding must drive public policy.
As a county commissioner, I’ve been told so many tragic stories of lives lost or torn apart by opioid addiction. When I was newly elected to the commission, I held a coffee hour with a colleague, and a couple came up to us and looked us both in the eyes and said, "Our daughter overdosed two days ago. What are you going to do?” This has been a guiding principle for me because we owe it to parents like them to do something. I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to unanimously pass a resolution to support expanding access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and the launch of a Community Paramedic program in Buncombe County; these are models of the types of programs that should be available in every community. The MAT Program at the Buncombe County Detention Facility has been recognized for its efforts to get folks into long term recovery.
We are all called to the work of racial justice—that includes healing our nation’s past and present, showing up for honest conversations, and working to create policies and systems that prioritize racial equity. From voting rights, to health care access, to education policies, to criminal justice reform, issues of racial justice are woven into so many critical policy areas. We see profound racial disparities from the time of birth through death across many areas of life, a constant reminder of the urgent work we need to do.
Social Security & Medicare
After a lifetime of hard work, our seniors should be able to retire with dignity and have good, quality health care. Social Security and Medicare are vital programs that millions depend on. I support expanding Medicare to include coverage for vision, dental and hearing. And I’ll always stand firm against any attempts to privatize or undercut these vital programs.
Our veterans from across WNC rely on the VA Hospital in Asheville for medical care. We must make sure services and benefits for veterans are adequately funded and that veterans can access care in a timely way. Just like Social Security, I will advocate for cost-of-living increases to benefits payouts. It is also critical that we support programs that address specific needs for veterans, including mental health services and PTSD treatment options, housing, and job training.
Voting Rights & Independent Redistricting
We need to make it easier to vote, not harder. I will advocate and support passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act. Our democracy works best when as many people as possible participate in our electoral system; right now, though, we have a broken system in which some politicians are trying to keep people from voting.
I support federal legislation to prevent states from passing anti-voter laws because your zip code should not determine your right to vote. We need expanded early voting, same day registration, more accessible mail-in voting options, and no voter ID requirements.
We also need fair maps, which mean fair representation. In NC, we've been through the gerrymandering ringer for the past 10 years. We need to reform the redistricting process and ensure that maps are drawn by an independent, data-driven board through a transparent, nonpartisan process. We should not settle for anything less.