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Complete coverage of Elections 2020. Reporting on major contested races in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties.

Candidate Interviews: NC House District 16

  North Carolina House District 16 covers all of Pender County and the eastern portion of Columbus County. WHQR spoke with Debbi Fintak, the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Carson Smith, Junior.  

Fintak isn’t entirely new to politics. She served as Pender County’s Democratic Party Chair for three years, but this is her first run for elective office. When asked what made her join the race, she says that’s a question she gets asked a lot: 

“Why would anybody run in this stressful, tense situation but when we were looking for candidates it seemed to me that it was my time to take a look at it. I felt very strongly about a lot of issues and what’s going on in Raleigh and the tensions that are up there, the log jam, and nothing is getting done.”  

Fintak retired after thirty-eight years as an educator. And she says, raising teachers’ salaries is one of the main goals of her candidacy. She endorses Governor Roy Cooper’s plan of a 9.1% increase over the next two years, and a 3% raise each year thereafter. Here are her other educational concerns:

“Our schools in Pender County are just basically needing a lot of repairs, with the remote learning that’s taking place, it would be certainly nice to have some more professional development to help teachers with those aspects of teaching as well.”

Another part of her platform is ensuring that there’s no exploration or drilling for oil off the North Carolina coast. While President Trump recently signed an order to ban offshore leases for at least 10-years starting in July 2022, Fintak’s not buying it: 

“That’s 2 years from now, and who knows what can change. I just think it’s a ploy being given to North Carolina voters to just pander them until the election’s over. We know that the President has not kept his promises on many, many, many issues, and this I’m afraid would be one of them.”    

Fintak also wants to increase funding for coronavirus relief packages, fix the state’s unemployment system, expand Medicaid, and provide grants and loans to small businesses. 

Carson Smith Jr. did not respond to multiple requests for an interview. 


Listen to the full interview with Debbi Fintak here.

For voter information, click here