Running for Congress, Ashley Ward tries to overcome financial and name recognition challenges
“I feel good. There is a lot of momentum in my direction I think. I have been to the polls every day in the early vote and what I see and hear is growing support for my candidacy “, Hall said.
Ward is Senior Policy Associate for Water Internet Engagement and Outreach at the Duke Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, citing climate change as the top issue she hopes to address.
“I believe we need climate expertise in Congress. We have climate champions in Congress, and what we need now is someone with especially my experience both on the ground in communities and in policy-making administration to drive these champions toward sustainable and effective policies,” Ward said.
Professionally, she has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the federal government’s Department of Commerce, with their RISA program, which brings together scientists and policy makers.
“That’s where I kind of cut my teeth in this job and learned a lot about how a policy that sounds really good on paper can’t always be implemented effectively and sustainably in communities without too much of a burden So that’s an important aspect for my It’s not just about whether I can write a policy, which I have It’s about having that vision, the understanding and the experience of knowing what it looks like when it happens to the community. And that of course applies to the communities in this district,” says Ward.
She supports efforts to improve access to encourage North Carolina residents to use green energy sources.
“We need to mobilize all of our resources and all of the incentives available through the federal government, the largest entity in which to do this, to incentivize what we need to do at the state level and at the local level, and that’s just one piece of the puzzle,” Ward explained.
Personally, she highlighted her own family’s financial situation when discussing health issues.
“I am also a strong advocate for health care reform. Like so many people in the district, my husband and I have incurred quite a large medical debt because we have a child who has chronic health issues. I am therefore a strong advocate for health care reform, and that includes not only universal health care like Medicare for All, but other types of policies that increase access, especially in rural communities , like allowing midwives and physician assistants to practice in low-access areas and getting back to the community health center models we’ve lost over the past few decades,” Ward said.
A three-time graduate of UNC, Ward has tracked the region’s economic and population growth, which has led to affordability issues, especially in underserved communities.
“A lot of these decisions are made at the state and local levels, but I think there are steps that can be taken at the federal level to alleviate some of these challenges. For example, we currently only fund about 50% of those who qualify for section 8 housing fully funding section 8 housing would be wonderful we also need to universalize section 8 housing we have seen this with the COVID-19 pandemic this would have helped those who are landlords, landlords don’t have an interruption in their tenant income that they received, and that would also have secured housing for tenants, so these two are safe through section 8 housing. But I’d also like to see the HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) go back to what they’ve done in the past, what we’ve moved away from that, which is that HUD takes a more active role in the development of affordable housing. And then finally, right here in Durham, all the renovations that we’ve seen here in Durham, can be traced back to a historic federal tax credit program. Historic tax credits have spurred Durham developers to renovate tobacco factory warehouses and do much of the asset-based economic development we’ve seen here in Durham. We need a program (similar to) the federal program that encourages affordable housing, tax credits for developers specifically to incentivize them to provide affordable housing,” Ward said.
The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund within the United States Department of the Treasury has a New Market Tax Credit program that provides incentives for business opportunities in underserved areas.
Less than a week before Election Day, Ward joined fellow candidate Clay Aiken for a joint press conference to discuss campaign finance reform, with a focus on the money being poured into this race. Congress.
“We often say that we want scientists and experts in Congress. However, we have created an environment where someone like me is extremely difficult. I did not enter this race with a list of donors, I didn’t come in with media relations. I’ve spent the last decade building an expertise, not a list of donors. But what that means though, is that for people like me, and that’s not is that one of the reasons why i went to the press conference my husband and i (at the start) of this race took a small margin off the equity in my property so that i have skin in the game. I ask my friends who are teachers and environmental scientists to donate, and many of them for the very first time to a political organization campaign. I felt that was the right thing to do to invest in myself,” Ward said.
She has never held elective office and has not considered running for a lower level race.
“All of my expertise is at the federal level, and that’s why I’m looking for a federal office. But I also want to point out that many environmental scientists work in federal agencies, and we’re not allowed to hold positions. policies, so if you want people to move out of one type of public service and into another type of public service, we have to broaden our thinking about what that means,” Ward countered.
During our interview, Ward was hesitant to directly criticize fellow candidate, State Senator Valerie Foushee, who has received support from two super PACs who have spent heavily on the race.
“As Democrats, we’ve said time and time again that we want to get big money out of politics, but we don’t act. We emphasize the big money in politics through our actions, not putting the “focus only on candidates based on the money they raise. I’m proud to say that nearly 90% of the funds I’ve raised come from the state of North Carolina,” Ward said.
Outside of financial reform, Ward implored the media to provide fairer coverage.
“I think it’s important for members of the media to understand that when they only list the top three candidates, it does a disservice to voters, who are genuinely trying to be informed and make good decisions about the people they are voting for. So just list and share and change the perspective of the media to focus on those who are the best fundraisers to educate the public about all the candidates in the race. This change in perspective from the point “The media perspective would go a long way to helping the candidates. It would also really ease a lot of that pressure for fundraising,” Ward said.
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