Terri LeGrand is a candidate for North Carolina Senate District 31, representing Forsyth and Davie Counties. Working in financial aid at Wake Forest University, Terri is helping students cope with the pandemic while running to represent a recently redrawn senate district. She sees transportation and housing as directly impacting people’s day-in and day-out lives and wants to create policies that will improve access to both of these. She also wants to make sure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare, fully funded public schools, and clean air and water.
Our Executive Director, Sarah Preston, had a chance to catch up with Terri last week. They talked about Terri’s winning strategy for the district. In this new competitive district, Terri has observed that there has never really been a competitive election before, and since the district has always been safe – one way or the other – the people representing it have never had to work hard for those votes. Terri wants to change that. She says that her top priority in the campaign is to make sure that she is present in the community and voters feel that she is accessible. That is more important to Terri than any one issue. “I want them to know that I will be an advocate for them and fight for them. That’s my winning strategy,” Terri told Sarah. Read on to learn more about Terri’s plans and what she thinks will most help her district and North Carolina.
SP: Why did you decide to run for office in 2018 and why are you running again in 2020?
Terri: I’ve been thinking about this today. My daughter gave me a journal that accompanies Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, and this morning’s prompt was, “What caused a sudden turn in your life?” The answer for me was the 2016 election. I just remember that visceral feeling of regret and disgust when Donald Trump won and I knew I just had to do something. That’s why I ran in 2018. I wasn’t willing to not do everything I could to create a different outcome in 2018. I think I did that, even though I didn’t win.
In 2020, I am just building on that. We could flip the majority in the House and Senate and that would be a huge impact. If I can make a difference, I must.
SP: What do you think is the most important thing that the government can do to help people now and into the future?
Terri: I really think the most important thing we can do is make sure we have free and fair elections. I believe that everything flows from that. If voters can select their representatives instead of the other way around, we will have a more just and fair society. And if that is the case, we will be able to weather things like this pandemic better because we will have policies that protect people and support them. We have starved our public health departments. If we had policies that supported public health instead, we would be in a better position today. If we had free and fair elections, we would have more women in office and we would have more progressive people in office. We could address climate change, natural disasters, and public health. Why are we always unprepared for disasters?
SP: What do you hope to accomplish for women and families in North Carolina if elected?
Terri: When I win, and the other progressive women running across the state win, we will be closer to gender parity in elected representatives in this state. We need to work towards gender parity in all of our elected offices and everything will flow from that. We will see a more equitable society. Women more deeply understand the challenges that families face, the struggles and stress that balancing work and family bring and those challenges of not having the resources you need. When we have more women in elected office, we will finally address those issues. We will create a society where everyone can have fulfilling work, be healthy, and thrive. If I can be there to increase the representation of women in the legislature and work for other women to be elected, I will do it!
SP: What are the benefits of being a woman while campaigning?
Terri: My experience has been that I get to work with a lot of other women who were activated like I was in 2016 and have the same hopes as I do for our community. These women are deeply passionate about doing the work that is needed. It is such a collaborative experience on my team and I don’t see that same approach with male candidates. It is unique to women and it is the best part of campaigning for me.
It also helps to be a woman when you go in to the community and neighborhoods where you aren’t as well known, people are receptive. They are willing to have open and deep conversation. I don’t know if that is unique to women, but it seems like people are more receptive to me. My biggest regret right now is that I can’t do more of that, being in the communities. It’s the thing I miss the most and look forward to getting back to, but I still seek to build those relationships as best as I can now.
SP: Why are you a champion of reproductive freedom and gender equity?
Terri: The first question that comes to mind when you ask me that is, why isn’t everyone?! How is it that the Equal Rights Amendment isn’t done yet? I just truly do not understand why we are still fighting this fight.
The work that women do is undervalued and demeaned. Whether that is a conscious choice or a cultural, “that’s the way it’s always been” result, I don’t know. Why are teachers and childcare workers, work that is done predominantly by women, all underpaid? I hope that one day, when we have gender parity in elected office across this country and our first female president, people will stop thinking this way. It is so deeply engrained that we need a major cultural shift. I understand it is happening, slowly, but it seems so obvious that, of course, we should have gender equity and reproductive freedom now!
SP: What would you recommend people listen to, read, watch or do to bring them some joy while social distancing?
Terri: Joy is a little hard to come by now right now. There is some comfort or escapism though. My daughter is home from college and I am spending time with her. We watch the Great British Bakeoff together and talk about what we might bake next. We don’t actually bake, we just talk about it. I just love the idea in the Great British Bakeoff that these people are competing and working their tails off for flowers and a cake stand. I love that they take such pride in what they are doing.
I’ve also been listening to Untamed and to The Highwomen, a group of four female country musicians that put out an album by the same name. The album is so amazing. I feel like it was written for me because it is all about women and empowerment. It helps me fire myself up for this fight!