CHARLOTTE – Democrats Ann Harlan and Chad Stachowicz believe a change is needed in State Senate District 39 and that is why both are running for the Democratic Party nomination in the May 8 primary.
The winner of the Democratic Primary will face either incumbent District 39 state senator Dan Bishop or his Republican Primary challenger Beth Monaghan in the Nov. 6 general election.
District 39 covers south Charlotte, Matthews and Mint Hill.
Harlan, who is a single working mother of five, has been teaching sociology at Central Piedmont Community College for the past 12 years. Harlan, who has a Doctorate in Social Work, lives in Matthews and moved to the area in 2005.
Stachowicz, who lives in south Charlotte with his wife and two children, is CEO of Cloverhound, an IT company he founded that has employees in North Carolina, Colorado and Ohio.
Harlan said she first started thinking about running for public office a year ago and that participating in the Charlotte Women’s March back in January pushed her to file to run in the May 8 primary.
“That provided me with a lot of encouragement to go ahead and do it,” Harlan said of participating in the march. “That was a pivotal moment for me. More women need to be in office and more women need to run. I feel like women’s voices have not been heard. Our representatives are often crafting legislation that are missing women’s voices.
“Women need to be at the table when legislation is crafted so it is more fair for people. When women sit at the table, whether it is at corporations or in government, decisions about policy tend to be more fair not just for women but for everybody. That is my goal.”
Stachowicz, who has lived in Charlotte since 2009, thought about running for a spot on the Charlotte City Council but he said his experience of starting and growing a business would be beneficial for District 39. Cloverhound currently has 14 employees.
“We have to get enough revenue to pay for them every day,” Stachowicz said. “The one thing that I feel that I represent that might be a little different from some Democrats is my fiscal awareness. As we have to run a business, we have to prioritize what the most important thing is, what we are spending our money on and be smart that we are getting a return on our investment.
“One of the things I hope to bring to the legislature is the knowledge of how to operate a budget.”
Harlan said another deciding factor in her running was that she feels the state and country are on the wrong track. She said raising teacher pay in the state by $10,000 to meet the national average, providing jobs with a living wage and benefits and better training and mentoring for high-tech jobs would be a few of her priorities if elected.
“The other key is that my children have a bleak future,” Harlan said. “Four of my five children are adopted through the foster care system. If we don’t start to turn this around, if we don’t start having a living wage, if we don’t have better health care benefits for everyone, if we don’t have better job prospects for everyone, then my children’s future, along with a lot of other people’s children, is going to be bleak. I’m doing this for our children’s future.”
Stachowicz, feels that North Carolina needs to improve its public education system by increasing teacher pay to meet the national average, provide more training for high-tech jobs for both younger and older workers, and improve the state’s health care system to make it more affordable.
“I feel I fit the mold of what people in South Charlotte, Matthews and Mint Hill are looking for,” Stachowicz said. “That is someone that is socially liberal but fiscally conservative. My senator supported HB2 (bathroom bill) and I was vehemently opposed to that. A fiscal conservative to me means spending money in the right way and making sure we get a return on our investment.
“I come from a generation where they preach that college is the only way to make it. That is a way to go for some, but an electrician is a job here in North Carolina where there is a great need. An electrician will make close to $70,000 once they finish their apprenticeship, which is two years. We also need to look at retraining some of our citizens.”