for County Commissioner
"I am stepping up to serve, primarily because of my passion for public education, to work for equal access to quality health care services and to achieve a local economy where anyone working full time can support their family." - Carly Cooke, Candidate for Guilford County Commissioner, District 5
North Carolina has a constitutional responsibility to provide quality public education to all children in our state. As Guilford County citizens, we have an even more specific responsibility to the children in our community. Guilford County School’s budget has been underfunded for many years and we, as a community, are paying the price. As a mom of two young children, both GCS students, I have spent countless hours inside the classroom and our schools. I see teachers reaching into their own pockets to pay for supplies for their classroom, rushing afterschool to their second job to make ends meet and putting in extra hours to make sure students achieve their goals – on top of their already demanding requirements. Educators are doing such important work and it is clear that they are not being supported as they should be.
I will prioritize investment in Guilford County Schools. I support a bond referendum to provide necessary funds to bring all GCS facilities up to the high standard our children deserve. Investing in public education is not only important because our children deserve access to a 21st century education in safe classrooms, but also because a thriving public school system is a foundational building block for a healthy economy, the future of our community and the quality of life for Guilford County citizens.
Nikki & Donnie
Wickline - proud parents 0f 3 GCS students
“We support Carly Cooke for Guilford County Commissioner because we believe all children deserve a great education. We have known Carly for several years and we know she takes public education very seriously. We are confident she will put children first.”
As a County Commissioner, I will prioritize investment in our public schools. I support a long-term bond referendum strategy to provide the necessary funds to bring ALL of GCS facilities up to the same high standard that our children deserve. This investment in our school infrastructure will bring a much-needed infusion of spending to our local economy, creating jobs and helping the people of Guilford County get back on their feet following this pandemic while also building a path for our shared prosperity in the future. I will also work to protect the County’s investment in our facilities by ensuring that we allocate adequate funding to maintain these assets.
As a mom who sends my own children to our GCS schools each day, there is nothing more important than keeping our children safe at school. School resource officers serve as a partner in that work, as do our school guidance counselors, social workers, nurses, and mental health providers. As a county commissioner, I will work with the School Board and my colleagues to fund a budget that supports the comprehensive needs of keeping our students safe.
Another priority to keep children safe at school must be to ensure they learn in a safe environment - free of mold and leaky roofs, with lead-free drinking water, and windows and doors that operate correctly and can be secured. I supported the full bond amount requested by the School Board - which was also widely supported by business and community leaders. The Board of Commissioners decided to approve only 18% of the request (enough to cover only 8 out of 139 projects) - a decision that was supported by current Board leadership and applauded by my opponent. We must invest in our schools if we really value the safety of our children.
Everyone has a right to live a safe, dignified and meaningful life. The role of our government is to ensure all of our citizens, regardless of race, religion or gender are afforded the necessary tools to sustain. We have to make it a priority to attract and retain jobs in Guilford County that pay a livable wage and help support a strong local economy. Anyone working 40 hours should be able to support their family.
As a small business owner in Guilford County, I know first hand how to put both business and education first in our community. The two are deeply intertwined. I believe that lack of funding for our schools has specific implications to the real estate market, economic development and retention, and future workforce development in our community. Strengthening the collaboration between our schools and businesses is key.
Our county must play an active role in supporting the coordinated efforts in the Triad to attract new businesses to our area. We are uniquely positioned to recruit jobs in transportation and logistics, aerospace, manufacturing and much more. Additionally, I think it's vitally important to support our local small businesses and entrepreneurs right here in Guilford County. This will be more important than ever as we recover from the effects of Covid-19.
Equal Access to Essential Healthcare Services
Every Guilford County citizen deserves equal access to health care – including behavioral health and addiction prevention. Members of our community are suffering, and we have to include behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, prevention programs and comprehensive infant and maternal health services in the conversation surrounding healthcare. Providing equal access to essential healthcare services is not only the right thing to do, but the economically smart thing to do.
We all want to minimize the effects of this pandemic and the best way to do that is to limit the spread until a vaccine is available. I am committed to supporting policies that expand access to timely, widespread testing throughout the county, with a specific focus in disproportionately affected communities, and efficient contact tracing to prevent spread from infected individuals. I am also committed to working to ensure there is a plan in place and systems implemented to rapidly and equitably distribute the vaccine when it becomes available.
If our experience earlier this year is any indication, we know that our leaders must be thinking ahead to procure supplies and determine the method through which the vaccine should be disseminated; paying special attention to the inequities that communities of color have experienced throughout this pandemic and ensuring that is corrected going forward.
It is also imperative to ensure that Guilford County Schools has the resources they need to keep students and educators safe and healthy. This must include staff for cleaning and sanitizing facilities, cleaning supplies, and appropriate PPE for teachers and staff.
Equity In our Community
Structural and systemic racism is present and measurable inequities persist right here in Guilford County. People of color experience worse outcomes than their white counterparts in our community. In ZIP code 27405, the life expectancy is 11 years shorter than those who live in ZIP code 27455. The 5-year infant mortality rate for African Americans is more than double the rate for white infants, according to Guilford County Health Department.
It’s clear that we have data showing the inequities; we need to use that data to determine root causes and systemically and intentionally make changes to improve outcomes for people of color in our community. Most importantly, we must invite input and collaboration from all historically marginalized groups in our community so that decisions to improve County services contribute positively to their experiences and outcomes.
Safe, affordable housing is a basic human right and an issue that requires attention in Guilford County. We have some of the worst eviction rates in the state and region right here in the Triad. 30% of Guilford County households are cost burdened - meaning that their housing expenses exceed 30% of their household budget. One explanation for this could be that the cost of housing has risen 55% over the last decade while wages have only increased by 5%.
We must focus our efforts both on increasing the average wage in Guilford County and expanding affordable housing opportunities for our citizens. Commissioners can lead by example and ensure that all county employees are paid a living wage and focus economic development efforts on attracting jobs that raise the average salary for Guilford County. Additionally, our neighbors in Wake County have created a task force to address affordable housing; this could serve as a model for Guilford County to create a plan to tackle this issue while incorporating input from community and business partners that brings value to all stakeholders.