Raleigh, NC, April 4 – Democratic Senate candidate, U.S. Air Force veteran, IT consultant, and CPA James Carr Jr. has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes.
One-in-five Americans has a disability, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group. It is also the only one that, due to accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, there are over 1.4 million people living with some form of disability in North Carolina and their votes could be crucial in deciding who will represent them in the United States Senate.
Carr is the first candidate in the upcoming North Carolina Senate race to respond to RespectAbility’s candidate questionnaire. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to key Senate and gubernatorial campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report.
The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Carr’s responses follow:
EDUCATION & SKILLS: What is your plan for ensuring that all students with disabilities, including English Language Learners, receive a quality and appropriate education to acquire critical and marketable skills?
I will preference my answer by saying that my wife owns a private school which includes scholars from the disability community. Her motto is “Every child can learn; we just have to know how to teach them”.The key problem that I see with our educational system is that it’s built-on adults attempting to direct the career path of our scholars, as opposed to empowering our scholars to live out the dreams and aspirations they have for their own lives. With that in mind, if elected, I will focus on modernizing our educational system. To modernize our educational system, starting around the tenth grade, I will focus on facilitating collaboration amongst parents, teachers, and students to develop a plan of action that prepares our scholars for life after graduation. Be it college, military, or work, the scholars will have the confidence that completing high school is the first step in acquiring the critical and marketable skills necessary for enjoying a full and joyful life. Empowering our scholars in this manner will apply to all scholars including those who are part of our disability communities. While the needs of the disability community may be different, the end goal is the same, creating an adult who has the necessary skills to pursue the dreams and aspirations they have for their own lives.
EMPLOYMENT & ENTREPRENEURSHIP: If elected, what will you do to advance opportunities for people with disabilities who want to work and earn an income, just like anyone else? How will you support employers, large and small, to recruit and hire workers with disabilities? How will you promote evidence-based policies and best practices leading to meaningful careers as well as disability entrepreneurship opportunities?
My entire campaign is built on the premise of empowering everyone to follow the dreams and aspirations they have for their own lives, no matter where their journey begins. To achieve this goal, I will focus on investing in infrastructure, decoupling benefits from job requirements, along with modernizing our educational system for our scholars and our adults. The goal will be to encourage entrepreneurship amongst all Americans. In the case of those who are part of our disability community, it would mean that they too are able to start developing marketable working skills, in partnership with our business and entrepreneur communities. This will give those who are part of our disability community the ability to start their own business, which could cater to their specific needs or prove, to potential employers, that they have developed the necessary work skills to be productive members of the workforce.
ACCESS & INCLUSION: Whether or not you have a formal platform, what specific plans do you have to incorporate the voices of people with disabilities into your decision-making processes, if elected? What steps, if any, have you taken to make your campaign accessible for people with disabilities and to ensure that our voices are heard?
As I stated, my wife works with kids who have disabilities. Also, while in college, I worked as a tutor and one of my students had a severe case of cerebral palsy where he had no use of his legs or hands and had difficulty speaking. However, not only did he handle the rigors of accounting, but to my amazement, lived by himself. So, I have a great understanding that whereas these individuals may have challenges, they have the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else. I will include them as part of my campaign because I not only see their value as human beings but also as a valuable resource to our country.
With this in mind, my campaign will be highlighting businesses that hire people, from the disability community, to showcase the great work that they do and their value to our society. This is part of the Meet & Greet Zoom Sessions that you will find on my website. Please feel free to sign-up for a session as I would love to have the opportunity to speak with you as well.
FIGHTING STIGMAS: If elected, what will be your plan to fight stigmas, highlight the disability community, and promote higher expectations for success?
I believe that the biggest key to success is building up the entrepreneurial spirit in our country. This is one of the reasons why I want to highlight businesses that cater to employing from the disability community. We can see how those in the disability community can develop the skills necessary to compete for jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. I want to raise the bar of success in terms of how people feel about themselves. If you have higher expectations for yourself, others around you will have higher expectations of you as well.
OTHER KEY ISSUES: What additional policies and priorities, other than those already discussed above, do you plan to focus on to improve the lives of people with disabilities? If you have yet to develop them, what is your plan to learn about disability issues?
My main goal is to raise the expectations of how all Americans see themselves, disability community included. If we can get people to believe in themselves and believe that they can achieve the goals and aspirations they have for their own lives, then most of the issues we face will take care of themselves. To empower individuals, my part will be to fight for policies that protect our privacy rights, invest in our infrastructure, modernizes our educational system, and decouples benefits from job requirements. This will encourage entrepreneurship which I believe will be in the best interest of all Americans and especially those in our disability communities. I will also, via my Meet & Greet Zoom sessions, continue to speak with those, along with my wife, to ensure that I incorporate the special needs of the disability community into my decision-making process.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community. View more coverage of 2022 candidates.