Candidate for the NC Senate, Sarah Crawford is running for the last remaining Republican held seat in Wake County. Having been drawn in and out of multiple districts since her first run in 2014, she emphasizes the importance of non-partisan redistricting. This doesn’t just cause issues for candidates wanting to run for office, but it means the voters have constantly changing representatives. Sarah is also campaigning to expand Medicaid because we obviously need to reform our health care system and that is the place to start. An experienced campaigner, Sarah has always had a busy schedule having to juggle a full time job, campaigning, and having two children, but now she is trying to manage everything from home.
Our Program Manager Devon Roberts caught up with Sarah a few weeks ago. They talked about how they both grew up in Southeast Michigan (not included in the interview, but a fun fact) but also how the COVID-19 crisis has shown how many gaps we have in our systems like the wage gap and access to affordable healthcare
Why did you decide to run for office and why now?
I first ran for office in 2014 because I saw how the Republican-controlled legislature was dismantling everything that we know makes North Carolina a great place to live, work and raise a family. The General Assembly was rolling back funding for education, undoing environmental protections, refusing to expand Medicaid and rolling back protections for women’s access to comprehensive healthcare. 2014 was tough year and I was running in a gerrymandered district and I came up just a little bit short. After losing that race, I was drawn out of the district and decided I would focus on my family, my work and my volunteerism, staying engaged in the world of politics. After the seat was redrawn in 2019, in a much less gerrymandered way, and I was drawn back in the district, I decided my work wasn’t finished. Six years later, we are still talking about the need to invest in public education and expand Medicaid; two issues we were talking about when I ran in 2014. We need people in the legislator who care about making change and making life better for the people of North Carolina.
What do you think is the most important thing that the government can do to help people now and into the future?
In the world we are living in right now, it has become clear that we need to ensure that people have access to affordable healthcare and that starts with expanding Medicaid. Also, we need to be investing in public schools – education is where we deliver on the promise of equality and as we are seeing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our schools are critical in so many ways. Teachers deserve to be paid much more than they are receiving. Lastly, we need non-partisan redistricting. We need a legislature that is actually chosen by the voters, not by the people in charge who draw the maps to further their own agendas.
What do you hope to accomplish for women and families in North Carolina if elected?
As we think about the issues that I have already mentioned, these are big issues for women. Investing in education that is equitable for all will help all people rise as we look to achieve equality. But we must also focus on investments in our workforce. Women in North Carolina make 83 cents for every dollar paid to men. And when you factor in race, the numbers are even lower. We have to close the wage gap for women and ensure that women get equal pay for equal work. Additionally, we have to ensure that we continue to protect the rights of women to access reproductive healthcare. We have seen so many attempts from the General Assembly to insert themselves into the healthcare of women and we must be vigilant.
What are the benefits of being a woman while campaigning?
As a working mom, I am certainly used to juggling a number of responsibilities. I do have an incredible partner in my husband who helps take care of many of the things in our household, but I have had to juggle the responsibilities of motherhood with my career and my volunteer roles for more than a decade now. This experience has given me a great foundation on which to build and add the responsibilities of campaigning to the mix! Additionally, I am led to serve very much out of empathy; empathy for what people are going through and the desire to help and support our communities. That empathy helps me talk with voters and feel what they are going through.
Why are you a champion of reproductive freedom and gender equity?
It’s important that every woman be able to make her own decisions about her reproductive health. We do not need politicians trying to legislate women’s decisions about if and when to raise a family. Regarding gender equity, I start from the standpoint that we are humans first and that must be how we make our policy decisions. There is no excuse for discrimination in any case.
What would you recommend people listen to, read or watch to bring them some joy while social distancing?
Like a lot of people, I am trying to work from home, while managing my children, and my home. It’s a lot. My favorite activity is going for a run and I have made sure to keep that up and taking more frequent walks as well. We have also made a concerted effort to stay in touch with family via zoom – even having a family talent show of sorts! We are also re-watching the Marvel movies in chronological order and our kids are staying active researching on educational websites things and places that interest them!