NCLM Southern City, Volume 72, Issue 3, 2022

SOUTHERN CITY QUARTER 3 2022 18 Faith Leader: Rep. Amos Quick Preaches Hope for Communities’ Futures BEN BROWN NCLM Communications and Multimedia Strategist Meeting State Rep. Amos Quick at his vocational office was enough on its own, without a word yet spoken, to convey his deep connections to well-being and human potential. Quick is a pastor, and his office is within Calvary Baptist Church on Hilltop Road in High Point, where a sign outside bears Quick’s name, welcomes congregants and proclaims that “Great Things Happen” inside. Each Sunday, Pastor Quick has the opportunity to click with the congregation and understand members’ varying needs and places in life, a community context that layers well with his broader community callings and optimism for positive outcomes. Rep. Quick invited Southern City inside for some Q&A about the 2022 legislative short session, what cities and towns can do in such dynamic times, and why he has faith that North Carolinians are in for bright futures, despite some sharp divisions in the population. ˘˘˘ Let’s start with the 2022 short session—your general thoughts on it? AQ: Well, I was pleasantly surprised at the brevity of the short session, particularly with there being so many hot button issues that came up during the time that we were in session and how we could stay focused on budget corrections in that time frame. Not a lot of headline-making policy decisions. There were some, but we mostly stayed away from the major hot button issues. I think with the budget corrections, we could have done a lot more. I think there could have been more investment into our recovery out of the pandemic. So again, I was pleasantly surprised at the brevity of it. But also, a little bit disappointed that we weren’t able to do a little more as far as helping North Carolinians coming out of this pandemic. What ideas or policies are on your mind? AQ: Medicaid expansion absolutely has to be mentioned in any discussion when you’re talking about North Carolina politics. It is amazing that, even going through a global pandemic, we didn’t have enough motivation to expand Medicaid, with the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who don’t have Medicaid insurance coverage… And then, policy decisions—first of all, we’re not completely out of the pandemic—policy decisions that keep us safe and that we can make investments into making sure that we continue to stay safe as we navigate our way through this pandemic. Then also with the over $6 billion in opportunity dollars that we have; that’s what I call them: opportunity dollars. You mean the state’s fund balance? AQ: The fund balance that we have. Of course, saving for the rainy day, but also making investments that continue to move North Carolina forward. How about with the state’s cities and towns? AQ: I think cities and towns must plan for the future at a rate that perhaps we haven’t been doing before. As we begin to come out of the pandemic, the one thing that we have to realize is we’re not the same. We’re different. New issues have been identified. New ways of dealing with issues have been identified. Some people who have been in the shadows have come out of the shadows, and we see them. And how do we deal with the issues that they bring forth? What does the future look like? We have young people—I have two daughters, 30 and 31 years old. They’ve never known anything but stress and turmoil and chaos and confusion and they see the world differently than I do. They lived through September 11, they lived through the war on terror, and you come out of that and you have the Great Recession, and you come out of that and you have the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve not had an opportunity to breathe, and I think that makes them think differently and expect differently from government. Whether it be local government, state government, or federal government, the expectation is different. Is the government going to help us? Or has the government said, “You’re on your own?” What do you think cities and their leaders can focus on to help? AQ: Infrastructure is important. Affordable housing is always going to be important. I think that cities must do things to not add to the divide that’s happening between haves and have-nots. We’ve forgotten about the middle class to a large degree, and cities can do things to help promote the growth of the middle class. I think cities need to consider that it’s the citizens that pay for things … and citizens expect some return on their investment into our system, and for it not to go to the already wealthy when we see areas of our cities that are becoming more unsafe. Crime definitely has to be a consideration. How do we combat crime? While not saying that the only answer is let’s add more police officers. Because the truth of the matter is not a lot of people are going into law enforcement. THE LEAGUE’S QUARTERLY LEGISLATOR Q&A continues on page 20