Raleigh, N.C. — Rep. Cynthia Ball, D-Wake, took office this January after running a campaign that capitalized on her experience as a mediator and what she described as former Republican Rep. Gary Pendleton's initial support for House Bill 2.
Pendleton didn't vote for the law limiting LGBT rights, but he signed the petition that called lawmakers into special session to pass the controversial law, and Ball campaigned on her opposition to the measure.
Ball has spent 17 years running her own mediation business and two years on the Raleigh Civil Service Commission, a government body that hears appeals from city employees.
During the months leading up to Election Day, Ball promoted her interest in education, pointing to an endorsement by the North Carolina Association of Educators. She would also like to see statewide mental health care reform and nonpartisan congressional redistricting.
Why did you run?
"I was concerned about the direction North Carolina was taking, including public education, from K-12 to higher education, (and its) inadequate funding. I was concerned about some policies that were being put in place that were discriminatory that were hurtful to our economy and our environment."
What’s surprised you most since taking office?
"Not much has surprised me after campaigning and witnessing the special session – the extreme partisanship that we are continuing to suffer from. We are caught up in a political environment where things are not being done through consensus. I think that the gerrymandered districts keep citizens from being represented, and there's little or no incentive for representatives or senators who sit in safe districts to represent members of the other party. It all confirmed what I already knew."
If you were given the choice of one statewide law to get passed this session, what would it be and why?
"Repealing HB2. It has hurt us in so many ways, and I think, if we are able to do that, that will have been done by some bipartisan cooperation, which will be a good sign that we can make progress on other things, like nonpartisan redistricting."
What’s the best piece of advice you've gotten for navigating the General Assembly and who gave it to you?
"I met with representatives from different associations, and in both cases, learned who they look to in the legislature … for support of bills they want to see passed, who is likely to help them and work with them. That's helpful to me as a freshman because I'm still getting to know people."