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Know Your Candidates: Kathy Manning, District 13

WFMY News 2's Erica Stapleton sat down with District 13 hopeful Kathy Manning ahead of Election Day.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Kathy Manning is the Democratic Congressional candidate for North Carolina District 13. She lives in Greensboro and has a background in immigration law. She's also involved as a philanthropist and volunteer for several Greensboro projects, including the developing Tanger Center for Performing Arts.

Her opponents include incumbent Republican Representative Ted Budd; Libertarian candidate Tom Bailey; and Green Party candidate Robert Corriher.

What moment did you decide to run for Congress?

KM: It was a gradual decision and it really was sparked by my experience with my daughters healthcare situation.

Manning explains her daughter was diagnosed with a chronic illness and needed medication. Their doctor wrote a prescription to get it under control.

KM: The dilemma came when the insurance company said it was something that needed prior approval and I spent days fighting with the insurance company to get them to approve this medication that the doctor said was exactly what she needed.

The decision to run for Congress was gradual.

KM: I really started to think, what do people do? What happens to people who can’t take so much time off of work to fight for their insurance company? For me it really coalesced when I watched Congress fight so hard to take healthcare away from millions of people, including my opponent who voted to take healthcare away from millions of people. He’s voted to take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He’s voted to allow seniors to allow health insurance companies to charge seniors 5 times what they charge other people for his health insurance.

Manning is talking about the push to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act in 2017. Proponents said the new law would help reduce insurance premiums and make healthcare more affordable. Critics argue the bill would have restricted healthcare access to millions of people. The bill did not pass.

KM: I was so furious watching Congress fight over who they could take healthcare away from because they were ignoring the real issue and the real issue is how do we make health insurance more affordable? How do we make healthcare more affordable and what do we do about the outrageous cost of prescription drugs? As I talk to people across this district, they struggle with these healthcare issues all the time. They struggle with their health insurance. It reinforced my decision because we need change in Congress. We need people who are actually willing to go up and work with people across the aisle and solve this issue.

Manning says she's talked with more than 100 doctors, healthcare providers and hospital administrators across the district to try and come up with a solution that works.

KM: What’s clear is our healthcare delivery is too fragmented. There are too many layers and we need to make sure that people get the right care, provided by the right healthcare provider at the right time and that’s not happening. There are lots of areas where costs can be cut. One of the obvious ones is that our government should be negotiating with pharmaceutical companies for what they pay for the medications for people who are on Medicare.

What’s your stance on opioid crisis?

KM: It’s clear that we have a terrible opioid crisis and there are thousands of people who have died from overdoses in this district and all across the country. We need to be working with first responders to make they have the support and medications that they need. We need to make sure there are the treatment centers that will help people get over their addiction but first and foremost we need to make sure that we’re not throwing people off their health insurance - people who need help. That’s why it’s so problematic. He {Rep. Budd} says he’s working to take care of the opioid crisis but he’s voted to throw people off their health insurance, he’s voted to take away protection for pre-existing conditions. That’s not going to help people who have problems with opioids.

How do you work across the aisle?

KM: First of all, I think we need to get to know each other and we need to make friends with people across the aisle and then we need to figure out who we can work with where we can set a goal, the goal of providing affordable healthcare that’s accessible to everyone. How can we find people to work on that issue and how can we set the goal and figure out how we reach the goal?

Two of Manning's other big issues are jobs and education, which she says go hand in hand.

KM: We need to improve our education system. We live in the wealthiest country of the world. Our schools should be the envy of the world. Investing in schools, investing in our students, is investing in our future. We are 37th in the country in teacher pay {referring to North Carolina}, I think 39th in the country for per pupil investment. That’s not investing in our future. We need to be preparing our kids for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow. We need multiple pathways for successful careers and that includes career and technical trainings and apprenticeship programs for kids who aren’t going to go to college but there are lots of good jobs out there that aren’t being filled that would be available for kids to have the right training and the right apprenticeship programs. We need great community colleges and we need great 4-year colleges and universities when students graduate they aren’t so overburdened by student debt that they can never see getting out from under it.

How do you fix that?

KM: There are some good bills in Congress to address the student debt issue. We need to have people who are willing to work on those bills and make sure that when students take out those loans they’re getting loans at the best possible rate. That’s not currently happening. We need to make sure there are appropriate options for students once they graduate. When they have problems with payment that there are options for them. We also need to extend pell grants so that there are more grants available for students and they don’t have to take out as many student loans.

How do you plan to make that happen? How do you make it easier for businesses to thrive?

We lost our business base in this area. We lost our textile manufacturing. We lost a lot of furniture manufacturing companies. We lost many good paying manufacturing jobs and the manufacturing jobs that are there now and the manufacturing jobs of the future will require more education. So, we have to make sure those education opportunities are available and we also need to make that people have a mindset that they’re going to have to continue their education and continue improving their skills along the way.

She says that's not just 4-year programs. It's community colleges, technical training and other avenues.

KM: We have a mismatch in the skills so we need to be working with employers to make sure we understand the kinds of jobs that we can’t fill and the kind of skills that are needed 53:04 So that in our educational system we are providing students with the skills they need to get good jobs.

How do you not get caught up in Washington? Or not become a "political insider?"

KM: First of all, I have taken a pledge not to take any corporate PAC money because I don’t want to be beholden to corporations and lobbyists when I get to Washington. It’s clear there’s way too much money in politics and one of the first things I want to work on is campaign finance reform and I have signed a letter with a number of other candidates that we want to work on campaign finance reform when we get to Washington because there’s just too much money in politics. We need to have a limit on the amount of money politicians can be given, particularly more transparency. My opponent has taken a substantial amount of money from corporations, corporate PACs and if you look at his voting record he’s voting in line with interests of those organizations and special interests pacs that have given money to him as opposed to voting in line with the needs of the people in this district.

Have corporate PACs approached you?

KIM: I actually did have somebody who represented a business say to me, 'Oh you’re not taking any corporate PAC money?' And I said no and he said 'Alright, nothing to discuss here.' I have made it known that I am not taking corporate PAC money so it hasn’t been an issue.

Data shows a majority of Manning's donations come out of state.

KM: I’m really proud that I have out-raised my opponent with money that I’ve raised in the district and I have had donations from people all over the district, all five counties, and I’m really really proud of that. I have friends, family members and colleagues all over the country who have invested in my campaign. I was privileged to chair the board of a really large charity that enabled me to work with people all over the country and I was in a leadership position in that organization for, probably 12 years or so.

That organization is the Jewish Federations of North America.

KM: I got to know many many people across the country. They got to know me. They know my values, they know my leadership skills, my desires for this country and I am honored they have invested in my campaign because they know me.

What's the biggest issue the country faces?

KM: We have a lot of issues that we need to address. Right now, I’m most concerned about the partisan divide. The way that people, at least the people in congress, are putting party ahead of country. I think we need to change the tone. We need to start having people work together. They need to keep in mind the needs of the country are and the needs of the people who they’re representing. They need to work together to create solutions.

What's the biggest issue North Carolina faces?

KM: I don’t think there’s one issue. I think that there are several issues and they are intertwined. Jobs. Good paying jobs where there’s an opportunity for wage growth. We’ve got to rebuild that business base that we lost. One of the issues that a lot of employers face with hiring people is the cost of healthcare. Health insurance has gone so high that when employers look to hire people. The cost of paying healthcare benefits is a real issue. People who aren’t in jobs who have healthcare benefits really struggle. The cost of health insurance for those who need to get health insurance and education. You can’t get the jobs unless you have the education to do that jobs. We will not attract new employers and we won’t be able to grow our businesses unless we have a workforce that has the education that we need. So, I think those three issues are all intertwined.

She says she's also heard other issues from people across the district.

KM: I’ve traveled thousands of miles across this district and met with people in more than 350 different events. The other issues that I hear people concerned about are protecting social security and Medicare. People are desperately concerned that because of the tax bill that was passed and the hole it blew in the deficit that Congress is going to go after social security and Medicare and people are very worried about that.

What did you make of the tax reform?

KM: I think we needed tax reform, but I think that Congress got the balance wrong. We wanted to put more money in the pockets of working people and small businesses. I don’t think the tax bill accomplished that. We wanted to incentivize companies to invest in rebuilding and creating more jobs and investing in their workers. I don’t think we accomplished that. We created loopholes instead of closing a lot of loopholes and we blew up the deficit and I think that’s going to be a problem for us long term.

Why you over your opponents?

KM: I have a 30 year track record of leadership and service to this community. I have worked with people from different parties with different ideas to get things done in this community from expanding access to early childhood education to helping people during the recession when they lost jobs, helping them with job training, food relief. I have worked on lots of projects to make our community a more vibrant place. We’re sitting in front of one of them right there {referring to the Tanger Center for Performing Arts}. Those things are critically important because we need to spur economic development in this community. I think people in this community know the track record I have and know that I want to fight and make this community and this whole district the best possible place to work live and raise a family