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Rep. Gale Adcock was the Lillian’s List heroine of 2014 when she was the only progressive woman legislator elected to the NCGA. We’ve been so lucky to have her in our legislature every year since. Gale is a Nurse Practitioner and approaches her work with the same calm logic that she approaches her patients. She took the time out of her busy day to chat with our Program Manager Devon Roberts.

How have you grown as a leader since you’ve been in office?

I’ve been in office for thirteen years: seven years on the Cary Town Council and six in the NC House. Serving has made me a better listener. It has also reinforced my desire to help people solve their own problems and give them the necessary tools. I’ve learned to say the same thing to my constituents that I say to my patients: “tell me more about that” before “what can I do to help?” I never assume their first statement is everything they need or want to say. By slowing down and giving people more time to describe their situation they often talk themselves into a solution. Or they give me a much better idea of what I can do for them. An example: recently a constituent sent an email asking me to vote for legislation that I wasn’t familiar with. After using the NCGA bill look-up feature without finding the bill number and name, I Googled it—turns out it was a Colorado bill. I provided the constituent with information about the CO bill’s passage into law and asked if it helped her. I could’ve easily ignored her email because it was not germane to North Carolina, but I didn’t want to do that. I’ve become at helping people understand what I, and other elected officials, can and cannot do for them. I provide as much information as possible to answer their question and meet their needs.

Say we expand Medicaid, ratify the ERA, and reverse existing abortion restrictions. What do you think is the next big move to help women and families in North Carolina?

We need to make investments in the social determinants of health: a sound basic education for children; an adequate health care workforce to ensure access to care; and affordable workforce housing.

How has the culture of the General Assembly changed as more progressive women are added each cycle?

It’s been wonderful. There is more pulling back the curtain on lies and misrepresentation of the intent of bills, particularly those that negatively impact women, children and families. There is no fear in shining a bright light on legislation intended to restrict women’s reproductive choices but presented as something else. There’s incredible energy and no tolerance for BS. Our caucus now has more women, people of color and LGBTQ people which makes for a much richer conversation on issues.

What makes you feel hopeful about NC?

All the young women interested in politics who are running for office. They’re more awake about what’s going on. They’re voting and working to get people elected who look, think and act like them.

What are you doing to find joy during the pandemic?

When all of this started my weekend routine was disrupted. On pre-COVID weekends I went to Starbucks on Saturday and Sunday mornings to write, then to a standing 2 hour exercise class. I had 10,000 steps by noon. All of these activities ended. In casting about for a new routine, I realized that in the 27 years we’re lived in Cary I had walked on only 2 of our 39 town greenways and trails. I set a goal for my husband and me to walk all 39 during the pandemic. This past weekend we hit #35. We found a new routine that includes both of us and we’ve rediscovered some important quality time together. We go very early while it’s quiet and serene (and cool). When we started our ‘Greenway Challenge’ the weather was cold; now it’s incredibly hot and humid. We always have Sunday breakfast outdoors at First Watch after our greenway walk. This new weekend ritual is comforting and gives me something to look forward to all week. Now that we’re almost finished, we’re brainstorming ideas for a new weekend activity together.

Devon Roberts

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