This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with North Carolina Senator, Jeff Jackson:
Tell us a little about yourself and who you represent.
I am the youngest Democrat in the North Carolina Senate. I was an assistant district attorney until joining the state Senate. I was forced to resign when I joined the senate because our state constitution prohibits serving in elected office while being a criminal prosecutor. I am a Captain in the JAG Corps in the Army National Guard where I serve one weekend each month. I served a tour in Afghanistan with the army in 2005. I represent part of Mecklenburg County, mostly in the southern half of the county. It’s one of the most diverse districts in the state and includes a little bit of just about everything, from the nation’s second-largest financial district to a rapidly-growing Hispanic area.
What attracted you to politics?
I don’t have a scientific mind and I’m not going to cure diseases. I don’t have an engineering background and I’m not going to invent a breakthrough solar technology. If I’m going to improve people’s lives throughout our state, it’s going to be through exercising sound political leadership. I look at the NC General Assembly and I think it’s in need of a new generation of strong, forward-thinking leadership. I’d like to help provide that.
Tell us about about your family.
The photo (right) includes my wife Marisa and our son is Haden. My wife is pregnant and due in late March. Marisa is in marketing and Haden is in first grade at a public elementary school.
From a legislative standpoint, what is the shortest distance between where the state is now on air quality, including ozone levels, and where we want to be?
The shortest distance would be a series of incremental steps that are carefully selected in light of the political constraints this issue now faces. I would encourage advocacy groups in this area who are actually seeking legislative progress – rather than attempting to frame a larger debate by taking symbolic stands – to consistently submit legislative proposals that have bipartisan appeal. More than likely, that means they will be forced to be much smaller proposals than most advocates prefer, but that’s where we are.
What are some of the states resources that work to combat or mitigate pollution from fossil fuels?
One resource is the Division of Air Quality within the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources. My constituents live in Mecklenburg, but are served by a regional air quality office in Mooresville. The North Carolina Administrative Code contains the rules for enforcing air quality in our state. I would refer specific questions to that code.
Is the North Carolina General Assembly poised to address the health consequences of Duke Energy’s dependence on coal, natural gas and nuclear?
Our greatest source of hope on this front is that this is a growing part of the energy conversation. All sides now admit that these issues, at least exist, and should be addressed in long-term planning. As long as we keep talking, we’ll eventually head in the right direction.
Is there any pending legislation related to public health and environment that we should monitor as parents?
I’ll be in a better position to answer this as we get closer to session. I’m confident that coal ash will be re-addressed in some form.