Like any newly elected representative, Rachel Hunt spent most of her first term in the N.C. House of Representatives learning the ropes, and there was a lot to learn. For starters, she didn’t realize the party that controls the N.C. House, which is currently Republican-led, has more influence in what bills make it through.
“I naively thought any good bill would come to committee,” Hunt said.
That wasn’t the case for Hunt, a Democrat who pushed for education funding, environmental protections and animal rights. Hunt said she had trouble getting any of the bills of which she was the primary sponsor even heard in committee, let alone voted on the floor.
Hunt promised that will change if she’s reelected to a second term.
“Now that I know how things work and which legislators I can talk to and would be interested in my issues, that makes it easier,” she said.
Hunt and her husband, Olav, live in Charlotte’s Raintree neighborhood and have two children, Katia and Jonas. She has been in the House District 103 seat since 2018, when she beat incumbent Republican Bill Brawley by 68 votes. The district covers Matthews, Mint Hill and parts of south Charlotte.
Hunt will battle Brawley for the position again on Nov. 3 but said she’s not worried. She feels confident that her wants are in line with most residents in her district.
“I feel like I’m just like many of my constituents,” Hunt said. “So, I relate to them and they relate to me. We have a good relationship and that’s going to continue and the fact that I’m willing to listen to everyone, no matter what party they’re in.”
Like her father, former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt, Rachel Hunt is an education advocate. The first bill she wrote in office (HB 428) would have allocated funds to put more full-time teacher assistants in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. Hunt said the idea was that teacher assistants would allow teachers to focus more on kids instead of paperwork, which would boost K-3 reading and literacy programs.
Hunt’s passion for education comes from her mother and grandmother, who were both teachers. In the House, she wants to focus education investments on improving facilities, increasing teacher pay, funding early childhood education and childcare and providing more high school apprenticeships and vocational programs.
An increase in teleworking and remote learning during the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the need for broadband internet access in unserved and underserved areas. Hunt has been working on a bill (HB 112) to encourage private and local government action and reduce regulation to allow access to affordable and reliable internet.
“We were making strides, but we have a long way to go,” Hunt said.
Hunt has a slew of new legislation she plans to focus on if reelected, including expanding access to healthcare, creating a financially stable transportation budget and ensuring environmental regulations are enforced and strengthened to protect the state’s natural resources.
She said the environment has always been one of her main platforms, but she wants to push for more legislative change.
Hunt has so many areas she’s passionate about and she wants more time to see them through. She said being a state legislator can be frustrating at times, especially because government moves slow, and it’s a 24/7 job, but she loves every second of it.
“There’s a ton of work to do. It’s not a job where you get days off,” Hunt said. “Something comes up every single day, but I like being able to help people and feeling like I’m making a difference.”