In the fall of 2016, IOPL hosted its first Hometown Debate series with televised debates for several Council of State races – Wilson (Lt. Governor), Asheboro (Attorney General), and Statesville (Treasurer). The debates were moderated by Kelly McCullen from UNC-TV.

We felt it was important to ensure that North Carolina’s smaller cities and towns were brought into the conversation about these races and their issues and concerns addressed. This was a very successful effort for us and for the communities in which we were located. Statewide television and radio coverage contributed significantly to this success.

As 2017 was not an election year for statewide offices, we chose the topic of NC’s public education system and hosted three debates, again, in our smaller communities – Rocky Mount, Burlington, and Newton. Panelists included NC State Representatives and Senators, as well as representatives from the NC Justice Center and the John Locke Foundation. The debates were moderated by Loretta Boniti from Spectrum News.

Our 2018 series featured four of the proposed six amendments to the state Constitution. Once again, the debates were moderated by Loretta Boniti from Spectrum News. Panelists included elected officials and public policy leaders. The topics/locations were as follows:

– September 25 in Salisbury at the Meroney Theatre – Change process to fill judiciary vacancies
– October 3 in Washington at the Arts of the Pamlico’s Historic Turnage Theatre – Require voters to present a picture ID before voting
– October 9 in Clayton at the Clayton Center – Increase legislative control over appointments to bipartisan elections and ethics board
– October 16 Gastonia at the Gastonia Conference Center – Lower the constitutional cap on the state income tax rate from 10% to 7%

In 2019, the plan is to host the series on the topic of healthcare, with a return to candidate debates in 2020. Spectrum News will be the broadcast partner statewide, with Loretta Boniti as the moderator.

The debates are free and open to the public.

2016 Hometown Debates: Council of State Races

2016 NC IOPL Hometown Debates - NC Lt. Governor

Lt. Governor (Wilson)
Former NC Representative Linda Coleman, Lt. Governor Dan Forest

2016 NC IOPL Hometown Debates

Attorney General (Asheboro)
Senator Buck Newton (District 11), Senator Josh Stein (District 16)

State Treasurer (Statesville)
Dan Blue III, Former NC Representative Dale Folwell

2017 Hometown Debates: Public Education System

NC IOPL Hometown Debates 2017

Should NC increase the state’s role in financing local school construction? (Rocky Mount)
NC State Senator Rick Horner (District 11), NC State Senator Erica D. Smith (District 3)

NC IOPL Hometown Debates 2017

Shared performance pay play more of a role in NC teacher compensation? (Newton)
NCAE President Mark Jewell (NC Association of Educators), NC State Representative Craig Horn (District 68)

2018 Hometown Debates: Proposed Amendments to the NC Constitution

Should the process be changed to fill judiciary vacancies? (Salisbury)
NC State Senator Paul Newton (District 36), NC State Senator Floyd McKissick (District 20)
Wayne Goodwin (Executive Director, NC Democratic Party, Brent Woodcox (Special Counsel, General Assembly)


Should voters be required to present a photo ID before voting? (Washington)
NC State Senator Erica Smith (District 3), NC Representative David Lewis (District 53), Donald Bryson (President/CEO, Civitas Institute), Kareem Crayton (Executive Director, Southern Coalition for Social Justice)

Should an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement be established to administer ethics and elections law? (Clayton)
NC Representative David Lewis, NC Senator Dan Blue, Allison Riggs (Senior Attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice), and Dallas Woodhouse (Executive Director, NC Republican Party)




Should the income tax rate in North Carolina be reduced to a maximum allowable rate of 7%? (Gastonia)
NC Representative Kelly Alexander, NC Senator Dan Bishop, Chris McCoy (Americans for Prosperity), and Brian Kennedy (NC Budget and Tax Center)