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Democratic candidates discuss abortion law, legalizing gambling and legalizing marijuana

Naveed Aziz, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, Mike Colvin and Elmer Floyd seeking House Dist. 42 seat


The hottest Cumberland County race in the March 5 primary may be the Democratic battle for House Dist. 42, where four candidates are striving for the nomination to replace retiring state Rep. Marvin Lucas of Spring Lake.

The winner of the Democratic primary will likely take the seat in the November election, despite the candidacy of Republican Leonard L. Bryant, because the district’s voters have a history of heavily favoring Democratic candidates.

The four Democrats are:

  • Naveed Aziz of Spring Lake, who has previously run for the legislature.
  • Fayetteville City Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin.
  • Mike Colvin of Fayetteville, brother of Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. Lucas endorsed Colvin when he announced his retirement from politics.
  • Former state Rep. Elmer Floyd of Fayetteville. Floyd served 12 years in the General Assembly, from January 2009 to December 2020.

CityView asked the candidates about three topics that the General Assembly debated in 2023 and may continue to debate if they take office in 2025: abortion, gambling and marijuana laws.


Abortion used to be legal through the 20th week of pregnancy in North Carolina. The General Assembly in 2023 lowered that threshold to 12 weeks for most pregnancies. There are exceptions to the 12-week limit for instances of rape or incest, if the fetus has a life-limiting anomaly, or if the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life or could cause severe bodily harm.

What kind of abortion law do the candidates prefer?

Naveed Aziz: Aziz is a physician. Abortion is a component of women’s health care, she said, “and I don’t think the lawmakers have the right to interfere in the health care of anybody, particularly women.

“So as a physician, I do not like anybody to be intruding into the privacy of me and my patient.”

Abortion restrictions are bad for North Carolina medical schools, she said, because the restrictions limit the opportunities for physicians studying obstetrics and gynecology to be trained on abortion methods.

Courtney Banks-McLaughlin: “I am pro-choice. I think women should have the right to make that decision. That should not be up to elected officials,” she said.

Mike Colvin: “I believe that it is up to the individual and their families, and the opinions of their families, as well as their providers, as to what they should do regarding specific circumstances,” Colvin said.

“So the accessibility to women’s reproductive rights, I am a proponent of that,” he said.

Elmer Floyd: “First of all, I support women’s reproduction rights,” he said.

“Second, that conversation and that decision should be between that female and her medical provider. I do not like the 12 weeks and I support bringing it back to its 20th week.”

Gambling — video poker and casinos

In 2023, the General Assembly considered legalizing video poker machines. Although these gambling games are technically illegal, enforcement of the prohibition has been a running battle for law enforcement for more than two decades.

The proposal in 2023 was to license and tax the games.

The tax revenue generated would be used to underwrite programs to help students at historically Black colleges and universities graduate. It also would be used to pay students' tuition at community colleges.

Separately, the legislature considered allowing four new casinos to open in North Carolina, in addition to the two operated by the Cherokee tribe in the mountains and the Catawba tribe west of Charlotte. The revenue would be used to offset income tax cuts, WRAL reported.

Would these candidates legalize video poker and casinos?

Naveed Aziz: She opposes the video poker machines and the casinos. “I don’t really care for these because I think they are a form of addiction,” she said.

“And also, there are better ways to serve the historically Black colleges, rather than just using these kind of gimmicks.”

North Carolina has other needs, Aziz said, and she doesn’t see casinos as true economic drivers.

“It is just transfer of money. It’s not bringing money,” she said.

Mike Colvin: On video poker, “I would have to do more research to form an opinion, a definitive opinion on that,” he said.

As for new casinos, Colvin said he would consult with his constituents before making a decision on whether he would vote to legalize them. “I would have to just look at it, at the time evaluate it,” he said.

Courtney Banks-McLaughlin: “I do support casinos,” she said. “I grew up in a city in Michigan — Detroit — where they have several casinos there.”

They would generate revenue for North Carolina, she said.

Banks-McLaughlin likes the idea of licensing and taxing the video poker machines, too, she said, so long as there are regulations to limit criminal activity around them. Since video poker is already prevalent in the state, “why not oversee it and allow the state to receive those funds for our community?” she said.

Any legalized gambling should include programs to help people with gambling addiction, Banks-McLaughlin said.

Elmer Floyd: “I do not like gambling. But it’s job creation. And sometimes we have to look at how we can be innovative, and delivering jobs to our respective communities,” he said.

Despite his misgivings about gambling, Floyd said, he would support the video poker and casino proposals.

Marijuana: Medical or recreational or both?

There was a strong push in the General Assembly in 2023 to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, such as alleviating the symptoms of chemotherapy or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some lawmakers want to allow marijuana for recreational use.

What would these candidates do?

Naveed Aziz: “Medical marijuana, I would go for that,” she said. Physicians and other health care workers know the pros and cons and side effects, she said, and can decide if it would be helpful to their patients.

As for recreational marijuana, there needs to be more scientific study of what marijuana does, Aziz said. “But I definitely would want it to be decriminalized.” This doesn’t make marijuana use lawful, but would eliminate criminal penalties for it.

Mike Colvin: “Research has shown that there are some benefits to treatment for medicinal purposes,” Colvin said. He could support marijuana for medical use, he said.

As for recreational use, Colvin hasn’t decided how he would vote if legislation comes before him.

“I’ll go home and dive at it, dive in and pray about it. Do my research and pray about it,” he said.

Courtney Banks-McLaughlin: She favors legalizing marijuana for medicinal use and recreational use.

“With marijuana, I support it,” she said. “That’s another way to bring revenue down to the state. I don’t see it being any different from alcohol.”

If marijuana sales are legalized, Banks-McLaughlin said, sales should be allowed only to people age 21 and older. She would limit sales to licensed vendors, and limited locations, similar to how the state limits bottled liquor sales to liquor stores.

Elmer Floyd: Floyd supports medical marijuana, he said, but he’s not ready to immediately support legalizing it for recreational use.

“I think that it should be done in steps,” he said. See how the implementation of medical marijuana proceeds, he said, and then consider whether to allow it for recreational purposes. “To bring both of them on at the same time, it’s a little bit too much.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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