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State House candidates spar over campaign pledge, 'defunding' police

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A challenger for a Nash County legislative seat claims his opponent wants to “defund the police,” an accusation the incumbent calls laughable. 

John Check, R-Nash, is running against first-term Rep. James Gailliard, D-Nash, for state House District 25, which encompasses much of Nash County.

Check issued a press release Monday saying he condemns Gailliard for signing a Future Now pledge. Future Now is an organization dedicated to winning state legislative majorities to achieve progressive goals.

Check said Gailliard has aligned himself with far-left activists and pledged to defund police.

DEFUND OR DEFEND?

Gailliard said the accusations are laughable because not only is he endorsed by police organizations, his son is training to join law enforcement ranks.

“This misinformation is being shared statewide to try to confuse North Carolina voters,” Gailliard said. “Never has there been a discussion on defunding police. I do not support defunding police. As a matter of fact, I have been endorsed by the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, which is the largest law enforcement association in our state.”

Gailliard’s son is currently enrolled in Basic Law Enforcement Training.

“My opponent Rep. James Gailliard signed a pledge to Future Now, a Washington, D.C., organization committed to far-left policies and putting liberal extremists in power across the nation,” Check said. “The agenda includes a wide range of extreme policies that would raise our taxes, force family farms and small businesses to shut down and completely change our way of life. Possibly the most extreme policies were to defund the police, limit their ability to use protective gear such as vests, helmets and firearms and confiscate firearms from private citizens.”

Gailliard said Check’s claims are false. He said he signed a pledge about jobs and other items important to North Carolinians.

“I think principles around good jobs, affordable health care, investing in children, people over special interests, equal opportunity, infrastructure investment and clean energy are solid goals,” Gailliard said.

Check said Gailliard’s policies would leave law enforcement officers defenseless and make everyone less safe.

“Our police officers put their lives at risk every day to serve us,” Check said. “Taking away resources will only hurt law enforcement’s ability to do their job safely and effectively. Not only did Rep. Gailliard sign this extreme pledge, he accepted a maximum contribution from the group’s PAC and is one of their featured candidates. We need principled representation in Raleigh, not political pawns of out-of-state organizations. I remain committed to represent the people of Nash County with integrity and fight for common-sense solutions to the challenges we face today.” 

Gailliard dismissed Check’s claims as election time rhetoric.

“Nash County is too smart to believe these partisan talking points,” Gailliard said.

THE PLEDGE

Future Now supports reform measures that could shift some duties — and funding — from police to social service agencies. 

“Communities are safest when all residents have access to education, jobs and opportunities to build their lives — higher education and employment levels are associated with lower crime rates. Police funding, on the other hand, has been shown to have no connection to crime rates,” the pledge states. “And police officers should be able to focus on the problems that they are trained to address, notably public safety, and free them from dealing with issues that others are more trained to handle like homelessness and substance abuse recovery. The Reimagine Communities Act involves impacted communities to invest police savings in proven youth, health, employment and housing programs that make communities safer.”

The Future Now pledge has been signed by at least 50 candidates running for office in North Carolina. 

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, criticized Democratic legislative candidates who signed the pledge in a Monday press conference that included remarks from Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats and Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes. 

On Twitter, Gailliard rebuffed Moore’s characterization of the pledge as support for “defunding” police.

“To be clear Mr. Speaker. I do not support defunding the law enforcement,” Gailliard tweeted on Monday. “That’s probably evidenced by my endorsement of our state’s largest law enforcement agency. Really disappointed by your lack of integrity.”

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