RALEIGH — Three months ago, DeAndrea Salvador made history by becoming the youngest Black woman to ever serve in the N.C. Senate and the youngest senator in the upcoming biennium.
Since then, she has been busy balancing legislative efforts in Raleigh and constituent services in District 39, which includes Pineville, Ballantyne and parts of south Charlotte.
“It has absolutely been a whirlwind, but it has been fulfilling,” Salvador said.
Before serving in the N.C. Senate, Salvador founded the nonprofit RETI. The Charlotte native serves on the board of Clean Air Carolina. She was also on the Mecklenburg County Air Quality Commission for several years.
Salvador said people who work in nonprofits are collaborative, good listeners and are used to working creatively toward solutions. Salvador said she runs her office kind of like a nonprofit and has been “pleasantly surprised” how many bipartisan issues her team has been able to work on thus far.
She admitted it’s been tricky to juggle new legislation and constituent services, but serving the residents who elected her remains a top priority.
“I think that’s one of the most important things we can do to make an impact to those living in the district immediately,” she said.
Salvador has been a primary sponsor on a variety of bills, including one that, if made law, would allow Pineville to hold a referendum asking residents to approve a one-quarter cent sales tax (SB 247). The money would be used to construct and improve public infrastructure and facilities.
“One of things I did early on was reach out to Pineville’s council and mayor to introduce myself and get a deeper understanding of what they’re working on. I wanted to make sure any of their existing priorities weren’t left hanging with a new representative,” Salvador said. “This tax was brought up as something they had been wanting to do.”
Salvador is also a sponsor of the CROWN Act (SB 165), which prohibits discrimination against someone based on traits historically associated with race, hair texture or hairstyles like bantu knots, braids, locks and twists.
As a Black woman, Salvador said this bill really hit home. Not only has she personally experienced hair-based discrimination, but she said hair has shown to have an impact on people of color getting a job, especially Black women.
“We’ve seen some progress in the state-based workforce, but there’s more to do,” Salvador said. “I hope this is one of those opportunities were we can take a common sense thing and move it forward.”
While that might be enough work for some Senate newbies in their first quarter, it’s not for Salvador. She’s currently working on legislation to expand access to health care and Medicaid, help small businesses with tax cuts and funding and incentivize a transition to clean energy jobs.
Salvador is one of the primary sponsors on several bills filed at the beginning of April, including Safe Drinking Water Act (SB 443), which would require the Commission for Public Health to establish maximum contaminant levels for toxic chemicals in drinking water. She also filed the Appliance Efficiency Standards Act (SB 556), an act to establish state energy efficiency standards for certain appliances, and the Energy Resilient Communities Act (SB 509).
The bill would would direct the state energy office to carry out a grant program to improve the energy resilience, democracy and security of communities and provide funds for the program. Funds may be used to help communities with projects, such as developing and constructing a clean energy microgrid that supports critical community infrastructure.
“I think I’m doing a great job at showing people the value I can bring from a variety of perspectives, including being a younger person in office,” Salvador said.
“I want to make the most of this opportunity and see what I can do to make the most change,” she added.