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N.C. House 75 race pits two former colleagues on school board against each other

N.C. House 75 race pits two former colleagues on school board against each other

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The N.C. House District 75 race features two candidates who worked together for years on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Board of Education, Democratic challenger Elisabeth Motsinger and Republican incumbent Donny Lambeth.

If you like political sparring, don't look here.

"I have high regard for her," Lambeth said of Motsinger. "She was a very good colleague and is a friend."

And Motsinger?

"I do not have a bad word to say about Donny Lambeth," she said.

The two are political veterans. A physician assistant, Motsinger has been on the school board since 2006. She ran unsuccessfully for the Fifth Congressional District in 2012, losing to Virginia Foxx. A former president of N.C. Baptist Hospital, Lambeth first won election to the N.C. House of Representatives in 2013 after 18 years on the school board. 

The redrawn House District 75 is heavily Republican, covering the eastern part of the county, stretching from Davidson County to Stokes County. It includes Kernersville, Belews Creek and Sedge Garden. 

One of Lambeth's biggest platforms is expanding access to Medicaid. His bill, House Bill 655, would expand Medicaid to an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 people in North Carolina. Ninety percent of that expansion would be covered by the federal government and the remaining 10% would be covered by private providers, Lambeth said. 

It's a hybrid Medicaid expansion plan that includes a work requirement, a monthly premium paid by participants and heavy emphasis on preventative care, such as routine doctor visits, weight management and smoking cessation.

After getting bipartisan support at the committee-level, the bill stalled during budget talks between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly. 

Lambeth said that North Carolinians are already paying into Medicaid expansion programs in other states with their federal tax dollars.

"I know my very conservative colleagues don't like to hear about it because it's a government program, but it's a unique program that requires no state funding," Lambeth said. "It's built around wellness and preventative care for individuals who qualify."

Motsinger also supports Medicaid expansion but she said she believes Lambeth's bill is too risky.

"Once it stops becoming profit-making to companies, they will walk away," she said. "You're transferring the risk of medical costs to for-profit entities and they will very interested only as long as they are making a profit."

Both Lambeth and Motsinger said Cooper has done a good job following the advice of healthcare professionals when it comes to COVID-19.

"You haven't seen me criticizing the secretary (Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen) or the governor," Lambeth said. "I think they're making the best decisions they can. Would I have liked to see gyms open quicker? Yes. Do I wish he would have supported businesses quicker? Absolutely. But I don't have all the data and facts, but generally, I support the efforts of the secretary and governor."

On the recent expansion of the school voucher program, which allows more children to qualify for scholarships to private schools, Lambeth said he supports giving parents the choice where to send their children to school. 

"I'm a very strong believer that parents have the right to decide what is the right setting for their child," Lambeth said. "Do I completely love the voucher program? Not really. I did support it because I think it's a choice option."

Motsinger said public dollars should go toward public education.

"There has been a desire to basically undermine public education," she said. 

Motsinger said her three priorities are public education, affordable and accessible healthcare and the environment. 

If reelected, Lambeth said he'll spend much of the General Assembly's long session on rebuilding the state's economy.

"We have to clean up the economic mess that North Carolina faces," he said. "The economic impact to North Carolina will overshadow everything."

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@lisaodonnellWSJ

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