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Frances Jackson has a background in city planning, teaching, and as a magistrate.  She’s now a candidate for HD 45, running to flip a newly redrawn district in Cumberland County.  Frances is running to improve access to healthcare, ensure that her community and the state has clean drinking water, and create jobs that can move North Carolina forward.  Frances has run for local office before and was appointed to the Town of Hope Mills Board of Commissioners for a brief period.  She grew up in Cumberland County and her experience in government and education has made her keenly aware of what her community needs.

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Our Executive Director, Sarah Preston had a chance to check in with Frances last week.  They talked about her journey as a candidate, which Frances describes as a “spirit-lifting experience” because she has met so many wonderful people and gotten so much support from folks both inside and outside her district.  Read on to hear more about why Frances is running and what she hopes to achieve for her community.

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

I worked in state and local government for years and it always required that we act fairly and hear from the public.  That’s where I was really introduced to civil rights.  I was a planner, magistrate, teacher, ADA administrator and I saw that things weren’t always fair.  I saw how rules might be applied differently to different people.  I had been concerned with some of our elected representatives in Cumberland County so when I was drawn into this district and saw how it was represented currently, I had to at least consider running.  I was really concerned with what kind of support our teachers and public education system was getting and that’s why I thought needed to run now.  Our public school teachers need support in the legislature, not someone who would deny teacher pay raises, cut teacher tenure, and underfund the schools.

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

The stimulus passed at the federal level was just the beginning, but I certainly think there is so much more we need to do.  This is the time for the state to expand Medicaid for those who don’t have insurance.  We have to get it done now.  We should also make it easier for people to get their unemployment benefits.  That is something we need to do right now to address the impact of coronavirus.

As a result of the pandemic, people are starting to get creative with ways to earn a living.  There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there and we should be fostering incubators and encouraging that spirit.  We should also make it easier for small businesses to get help.  A lot of businesses didn’t get the support offered by the CARES Act, the PPP small business loans, so we should do something to expand that access at the state and local level.

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

When I was a city planner, one of the jobs I had was making sure that minority-owned and women-owned businesses had access to our government contracts.  I always made sure that women-owned businesses had opportunities to compete when I was in that role.  I really want to support women who are starting small businesses.  We need more resources and we should also look to technology that can help expedite the process so it isn’t overwhelming.

Other than that, I really want to see Medicaid expanded.  I know that would greatly impact women and families and increase their economic security.  I also would protect reproductive freedom.  I think all health insurance should cover complete access to reproductive health care.

Have you seen any benefits of being a woman while campaigning?

In the primary, during early voting, I worked all the polls and I heard from women that they really wanted to support women.  There are men that really want to see more women in office as well.  I have young women engaged in my campaign who are working with us because they really want to see more women in office.  These women were going to the polls for me in the primary and will be back out in November if it is safe, they are working really hard, because they want to see that they can do it too.  It is an inspiration for them and for me!

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

I’ve seen that there are different levels of rights for different people.  We don’t always have control over who we fall in love with or what we need. I have experienced discrimination and that has made me a champion for anyone who doesn’t have a voice.  I feel really strongly about this. It isn’t right to say that one person doesn’t have the same rights as another person. I don’t have any time for that. Women need complete control over their medical decisions and bodies.

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

I am looking at this as an opportunity to take a step back and reconnect with people I don’t always have time to really connect with when we are all rushing around for our jobs, work, families, or churches. I started working on our family tree. My brother sent me part of the tree my aunt started. Working on the family tree has inspired me to think about planning a family reunion as soon as it is safe.

Devon Roberts

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