Newly appointed Senator Natalie Murdock is the first Black woman under forty to serve in the North Carolina Senate. We’re absolutely certain she will be breaking other records as her career in politics grows. She is one of our many 2020 Featured Candidates who first served at the local level. She was on the Soil and Water Board in Durham and took advantage of an opening in the NCGA. We’re excited for the perspective that Natalie brings to the NC Senate and are lucky to be on her team as she fights for affordable housing, and equality in our schools and healthcare systems.
Natalie is experiencing her first session in the NCGA and took time out of her busy schedule to chat with our Program Manager Devon Roberts.
Why did you decide to run for Senate?
It was an organic process for me. I did not plan to run for office in 2019. I enjoyed being on the Soil and Water Board in Durham and was active across the state to make sure we have clean water. I was approached by the community who asked me to run. I was encouraged. I’ve been interested in being a legislator but I didn’t know how the timing would work out, but this year worked for me. I’ve been a public servant since my early 20s and this was a natural progression. I can have a greater impact on people and provide representation. When I ran there were no women under 40 in the GA. We’re in a second recession and there are issues I want to work on like affordable housing and having more women of color at the forefront of environmental issues. I ran for the legislature inspired by my lived experiences. I’m a renter, I know the cost of living is going up but wages are not. I’ve been paid less than a man. I have a frame of reference that is representative of a lot of voters in my district.
How was your first session in the General Assembly? Did anything surprise you?
I don’t think anyone runs for office to walk into a crisis of this magnitude. The COVID session had a lot more bipartisanship. The COVID-19 bill passed 48-0. Your personal life doesn’t stop and I was coming off of the loss of my father. I had to deal with those personal things and my colleagues were gracious. I was excited about my committee appointments whether it comes to small business issues, the economy, fairer maps: these are things I’m passionate about. I’m enjoying my time here.
What do you think is the most important thing the government can do to help women and families?
I will highlight a bill I’m working on with Sen. Erica Smith. It’s a task force for women and girls. It’s not just a women of color issue. We’ve seen disparities in access to healthcare for women of color. The school to prison pipeline is correlated to things like suspensions from schools and Black students are more likely to be suspended than white students. It’s long past time we take a serious look at those disparities. Let’s look at these issues and create a task force for Black women and girls to examine what we should do as a state to deal with these issues. It models federal legislation and we want to do the same here in North Carolina and will be transformational legislation. We want to come up with recommendations with how we can address these gaps and have more equity.
Why are you a supporter of reproductive freedom and gender equity?
Because I know what it feels like to have decision makers tell me what to do with my body. People who don’t look like me and who aren’t women. I know what it feels like to be at the mercy of individuals who don’t know what you’re going through. Adequate access to reproductive care and primary care, access to cancer screening, we have to cover all of it. Another bill I’m working on will address gender discrimination in the workplace. My heart goes out to trans women of color who were murdered and we need legislators who will work on that.
What are you doing right now to bring you joy?
Honestly, It’s through this work. It’s the emails I receive from young women who thank me for running because they now have someone who looks like them in the NCGA. I receive letters and emails from mothers whose daughters want to run for office. It brings me joy to look forward and do good. Getting more people elected who are reflective of the community. That brings me joy.