Opinion: Daily Journal

What’s on your ballot?

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

It’s just a few weeks before election day. In addition to the president, U.S. Senate, and one of 13 congressional seats, there will be a lot on your ballot.

Here are some highlights: The governor is the top elected official in the state, responsible for administering the budget, surveying incoming revenues, and making adjustments to expenditures as needed. He executes all laws and is commander-in-chief of the N.C. National Guard.

He can grant clemency, convene a special session of the General Assembly, and make appointments to boards and commissions. He has wide authority over agencies, their powers, functions, and duties. The governor has veto power.

The governor sets the compass for the direction of North Carolina. Who do you want to lead?

The governor works with nine Council of State members. All will be on the ballot. The races for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and state treasurer were featured in pre-election Hometown Debates sponsored in part by the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership.

The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate but votes only in the event of a a tie. He has a unique role combining education and economic development, sitting on the State Board of Education, community college board, the state economic development board, and the Military Affairs Commission.

The lieutenant governor succeeds the governor if he is unable to serve. Think about that before you vote.

The attorney general supervises and directs the Department of Justice and must be “duly authorized to practice law in the courts of this state.” He defends the state in actions in the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and represents the state in any other civil or criminal matters.

He represents all state agencies and entities that are supported in whole or in part by the state, and must act within the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar. The attorney general is the only Council of State officer who is required to devote his full time to the duties of his office. There is a constitutional and moral duty to defend the state’s laws and constitution regardless of personal feelings.

The state treasurer, as the CFO and official banker of North Carolina, manages the $81 billion state pension plan, oversees the state employee health plan, approves and advises local government financial decisions, and makes investments with state retirement, health, insurance, and pension funds.

This person is responsible for the financial stability of the state treasury. This is no place for reckless decision makers or risk-takers.

All 170 General Assembly seats are on the ballot. These folks pass and amend laws — hundreds of them every year — that define the role of government and enhance or restrict freedoms that you and your family enjoy. Consider records carefully.

We’ll elect five Court of Appeals judges and one Supreme Court justice, in races that are officially nonpartisan. They will have the final word on some of the most important issues facing North Carolina — when it’s OK for government to take your property, if a photo ID is required for voting, if school choice should be available to everyone, and who should draw districts to ensure one man/one vote is upheld.

The jurists you choose should hold the same values and understanding of the constitution that you do.

Increasing debt and taxes will be on many ballots. Eleven localities, including Mecklenburg County, will consider bond referendums totaling more than $1.4 billion. (The NC Connect bond that passed a statewide vote in March was $2 billion.)

Sixteen counties, including Wake, will consider local tax increases. It’s your money.

Get informed, study your ballot, and vote like it matters. Because it does.

Becki Gray (@beckigray) is vice president for outreach at the John Locke Foundation.