Council of State Candidates Detail Opinion on Open Government in North Carolina

ELON, N.C. — A majority of statewide political candidates in North Carolina favor requiring state agencies that violate public records law to pay legal fees for those who sue for records, and two-thirds of them say that finalists for major state and university positions should be made public, a survey of the candidates shows.

Reporters from The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, The News & Record of Greensboro, The Winston-Salem Journal and the Wilson Daily Times interviewed 40 candidates who have filed for statewide political office. The survey was produced for the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.

The interviews are available to the public and newspapers for use during Sunshine Week, March 16-22. Sunshine Week is a national initiative to draw awareness to the importance of open government in our democratic process.

Steve Riley, senior editor for enterprise for The News & Observer and statewide coordinator for Sunshine Week, said the interviews are an important way for the public to understand the views of candidates.

"Open government is one issue that voters should consider, and it is vital," he said. "These interviews are part of an effort to help the public understand the importance of having easy access to government records and meetings."

The candidates for Council of State offices were asked 11 questions about open government laws. All interviews were conducted live; 40 of 42 candidates participated.

About three of four candidates had read the state's open government laws and 65 percent said that the law is clear in regard to public officials' responsibilities and duties.

The full survey results are available for review and downloading at www.ncopengov.org.





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