Local News

Your Voice, Your Vote: Education Top List of Issues Facing Voters

Posted September 13, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Voters go to the polls in less than two months to pick the next governor. Overall, voters are pleased with the direction the state is going, but they still have concerns. Education, traffic and the environment are issues that strike a chord with Tar Heel voters.

"My belief is that education is the cornerstone to all the issues facing us today," says voter Jenny McLaughlin.

That cornerstone belief is reflected throughout the a poll of 1,000 likely North Carolina voters.

"You start with education [and] you knock down the crime and everything else with it," says voter Troy Haynes. "I mean, people have got to be educated.... There's no doubt about it."

Of those surveyed, 42 percent say our public schools are moving in the right direction; 41 percent say major changes are needed. The remainder of respondents are unsure.

Sixty-two percent are opposed to public money being used as vouchers for private schools, but higher taxes to reduce class size is very popular.

Voters say they want teachers to be paid more. The candidates agree, although they differ on how to do it.

"I'm very much an admirer of people who teach, but I want to pay teachers based on their merit,: says Republican gubernatorial candidate Richard Vinroot.

"Rather than merit, I choose to use the word 'incentive' pay, which may be the same term, but I think you have to first recognize that overall pay has to increase in order to attract people in," says Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Easley.

Voters say they are very concerned about controlling development and improving traffic flow. They also want aggressive regulations on hog farms, and still strongly favor the death penalty.

Opinions on whether the state should halt executions while the question of fairness is studied are evenly split. But when asked if voters felt there is a reasonable possibility innocent people are on death row, an astounding 82 percent said yes. Your Voice, Your Vote is an association of television stations and newspapers across the state who will focus political coverage on the issues the voters have told us are most important -- not necessarily only what the candidates want to say.

WRAL-TV's partner for the election year is theNews and Observer. You can read more about the Your Voice, Your Vote poll in Sunday's paper.