Candidate Profile: G.K. Butterfield (NC 1st District)


G.K. Butterfield is running for the U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina’s First District.

G.K. Butterfield is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina’s 1st District. The Congressional election is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2020.

He is facing Republican candidate Sandy Smith.

Candidate Name: G.K. Butterfield

Race: U.S. House of Representatives, North Carolina’s 1st District

Party: Democrat

Biography: G.K. Butterfield was raised in Wilson, N.C. and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School. He graduated from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He was drafted into the U.S. Army while he was a college student and served at Fort Bragg. He was honorably discharged from the Army, completed law school, and practiced as a civil rights attorney for 14 years before being elected as a Resident Superior Court Judge for the First Judicial Division. He served in that capacity for 13 years before he was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2001. He was elected to Congress in 2004.

Why should the people of North Carolina re-elect you to Congress?

I am running for re-election because residents of the First District need someone who will fight for them and work every day to expand opportunities for low and middle-income families in the First District.  

It has been my life’s honor to represent the First District in Congress. Since coming to Congress in 2004, I have worked hard to improve the lives of eastern North Carolinians. I have advocated tirelessly on behalf of the First District, helping to direct millions of federal dollars to our communities for projects like the Wilson Streetscape Project, the Goldsboro Center Street Streetscape and Union Station projects, and secured billions of federal funds to rebuild after Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. 

I am proud of what we have accomplished, and if reelected, I will continue my hard work on behalf the residents of the First District.

What is the most important legislative issue facing North Carolina, and what is your position on it?

Access to affordable health care. It’s time we worked in a bipartisan fashion to build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act and take real steps to lower the cost of health care and improve access in rural communities. Proposals on the other side of the aisle to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it by block granting state Medicaid programs would hurt families in North Carolina and decrease access to care.  I am intensely focused on fighting for better access to health care in rural communities.

What is the top challenge facing North Carolina, and how would you address it if elected?

Creating more and better paying jobs continues to be a struggle for eastern North Carolina. Addressing this issue is all about creating opportunities for eastern North Carolinians. This includes expanding broadband access so all my constituents have the ability to pursue their dreams and participate in the 21st Century economy and for our students to have access to the technology, instruction, and skills training they will need to be successful.  

The expansion of broadband in the First Congressional District is absolutely critical for attracting businesses and creating good paying jobs. Transportation and infrastructure improvements are also necessary for job growth in eastern North Carolina and I hope to build upon my work to improve transportation in eastern North Carolina. 

Through my legislation, I was able to get vital interstate designations signed into law for portions of U.S. Highways 17 and 64 through Rocky Mount, Williamston, and Elizabeth City and guarantees that the corridor connecting Raleigh and Norfolk is built to interstate standards, that the route travels through eastern North Carolina, and that U.S. Highways 17 and 64 are prioritized when allocating funding for federal highways. 

I was also able to get designations signed into law for portions of U.S. Highways 70 and 117 as high priority corridors and as “future interstates” to better connect Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the North Carolina Global TransPark, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, and the Port of Morehead City with the rest of North Carolina and the eastern seaboard. 

 I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues on both sides of the aisle on an infrastructure package in the next Congress.  From my senior position on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I will be able to fight for eastern North Carolina and ensure the needs of the First Congressional District are represented at the negotiating table.

In light of national gun control debates, what, if any, gun laws would you support changing?

I support common sense solutions to reduce gun violence and I also support the law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. In Congress, I have advocated for a number of sensible actions, including:

  • Requiring universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers
  • Ban military style assault weapons and military high capacity ammunition clips
  • Ban suspects on the terror watch list from purchasing firearms
  • Call for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research gun violence as a major public health issue

What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in North Carolina, and how would you plan to address them?

First, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the necessity of listening to the science and our public health officials. In this ever-increasingly connected world, where diseases are not contained by borders, we can’t dismiss the experts simply for political reasons and hope these things just go away on their own. This includes listening to the science and investing in prevention research to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  

Second, the pandemic has brought the inequities that run throughout our society into sharp relief. I have consistently raised the importance of addressing social determinants of health, such as access to healthcare, education, food, and housing, in the context of overall health. We know that COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on Black and LatinX communities and most immediately we need a national strategy to reverse these disparities and ensure that every community has access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and eventually vaccines. 

Third, we must seize upon this moment to course correct and make heavy investments in access to healthcare, transportation, food, and safe housing as well as promoting diversity in healthcare. This means investing in medical schools and clinics that serve underserved populations, encouraging minorities to attend medical school or enter other healthcare professions, and ensuring that from the bottom up that our healthcare system is culturally competent and reflects the population it serves.  

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