Donna Lake is a nurse and veteran and she is running for Senate District 7 in Wayne and Lenoir Counties. Her top priorities in running for office are expanding Medicaid, investing in teachers and education, as well as pre-K care, and developing the rural workforce. With her background in health care, Donna is in high demand right now, but our Executive Director, Sarah Preston, was able to catch up with her (virtually) for a couple of minutes this week.

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Donna and Sarah talked about what Donna had learned on the campaign trail, including the need that candidates have to build bridges and hear from everyone in the community. Donna knows that people are in need and this is a critical time. As a nurse, she has the compassion that is needed in leadership now and an understanding that we must be bold because our democracy is dependent on us. Sarah asked Donna a few questions about what is happening in her community now, her campaign, and why both being a woman and advocating for women is important on the campaign trail and in her community. Here’s what Donna had to say:

SP: Why did you decide to run for office and why now?

Donna: I went to the legislature every few weeks over the last 10 years and I saw educational and health care decisions based on party line, not what was best for the people in my community. I knew I could use my expertise to help those with no voice, those in need in my community. Now is the time. I couldn’t wait.

SP: What do you think is the most important thing that the government can do to help people now and into the future?

Donna: Medicaid expansion must happen today. Whether we are in the middle of a pandemic, or just addressing regular health care needs, number one is my mind is getting people access to quality health care.

We also need to support our students and teachers. Teachers should be earning more and they shouldn’t have to work another job to make ends meet.

SP: What do you hope to accomplish for women and families in North Carolina if elected?

Donna: I feel very strongly about working for women in office. Maternal health care, especially for low income families, is critical. Women need access to affordable, quality health care for all maternal health care.

We also need to expand access to mental health services so that children have access to resiliency support and can prepare for the rest of their lives. We can’t build a workforce unless our youth have good mental health and are ready to learn and, later, to work.

SP: What are the benefits of being a woman while campaigning?

Donna: Women are so responsive to women candidates. Gender crosses party lines. Women are more comfortable talking to other women about health care, education, and preparing our youth. I can even talk to women about their own personal health care and self care. Being a woman bridges a gap within our community.

SP: Why are you a champion of reproductive freedom and gender equity?

Donna: Gender equity is simply part of human dignity. We need to respect people where they are and embrace their differences. As a nurse, I know we also need to respect health care needs instead of ignoring the needs of women. We need everybody to be able to participate in our communities and respect is part of bringing people and perspectives to the table.

As a nurse, I have been with people in need of healthcare during very difficult times. I have been with all types of people at all ages when they needed to make decisions for their own pregnancy and health. I have seen the current requirements around sonograms cause extreme pain for a woman. Government doesn’t need to be involved in that because it is a personal, private decision. Government doesn’t try to get involved with the counselling or processes involved in getting vasectomies or any other kind of health care. This is private health care and should be treated as such.

SP: What would you recommend people listen to, read or watch to bring them some joy while social distancing?

Donna: I am really enjoying looking through old family photos. I would recommend that to bring joy and, if you haven’t yet, think about digitizing those photos. You can capture this moment in a photo album and share memories with your family anywhere in the world. There are some good online services to help and you can even ask other family members in other areas to contribute remotely. It’s a good way to reflect and stay connected with family right now.

If you enjoyed this interview we hope you’ll read through the interviews of our other 2020 Featured Candidates!