We, the People
Once upon a time We the People were an important part of elections.
Now, however, it seems that Washington operatives and party officials
choose the winners and the rest of us are only needed to cheer on
the coronation. Judging from newspaper coverage from Wilmington
to Waynesville, it seems pretty evident that Mr. Bowles and Mrs.
Dole have already won the May (may-be) primary for U.S. Senate.
So, why don’t we, the great unneeded, just skip the costly
charade in May and send them our congratulations now? It is no wonder
that North Carolina ranks 41st in voter turnout. Perhaps more people
would vote if they thought their vote really counted.
However, I am not willing just yet to throw in the towel and let
well financed politicos, media consultants, poll strategists, focus
group specialists, speech writers and Washington party officials
hijack the constitution. Stewing over this problem one day, I decided
on a plan that would redirect my ire into a useful direction. Why
not use this column to introduce all my neighbors to all the candidates
running for N.C. Senate? Why not let the candidates speak for themselves
and give you a chance to meet everyone of them? I found their addresses
at the State Board of Elections website and wrote each candidate
a letter explaining my mission. Knowing their busy schedules I asked
them to respond to five short questions. The five questions are:
Where can you be reached for more information?, What are the three
most important issues facing North Carolina today?, If you could
change one of President Bush’s policies, what would it be?,
What one word describes you best? and What is your favorite dessert?
Since they are seeking a federal post, the third question was designed
to test their level of knowledge on national issues and degree of
critical thinking. Of the 16 original hopefuls who filed for N.C.
Senate, 7 returned the questionnaire and 1 was returned by the post
It turned out to be a wonderful project. You will be amazed and
filled with pride to see how many qualified and caring North Carolinians
there are who have given of their time and money to support the
democratic process that makes our “land of the free, home
of the brave” possible. As I promised the candidates, I am
presenting them to you in a fair and non partisan manner. They are
listed alphabetically and I have listed contact information for
Countrymen, give them an ear:
1. Bob Ayers (D), Swansboro, N.C., : His questionnaire was returned
by the post office and unfortunately he has an unlisted phone number.
2. Dan Blue (D), Raleigh, (ncdp.org) His questionnaire was not returned.
3. Erskine Bowles (D), Charlotte,(ErskinBowles2002.com, (919) 781-4022,
(704) 335-1617). I think it speaks very highly of a front runner
that he chose to return a questionnaire to a little known citizen
and in his own handwriting. Erskine Bowles was raised in Greensboro
and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
in 1967 with a major in business. His skills in business and economics
took him from North Carolina to New York and beyond and eventually
to the halls of the White House. Mr. Bowles is probably best known
here for his recent chairmanship of the Rural Prosperity Task Force
which held meetings around the state. “To those who know Erskine
Bowles, his leadership on the Rural Prosperity Task Force was “vintage
Bowles”—results oriented, focused on bringing people
together and founded on a commitment to serving others.” This
commission’s proposal to bring affordable high speed Internet
access to rural communities and businesses is now being implemented.
He believes the three most important issues facing N.C. are jobs,
education, and health care. What would he change in the current
administration’s policies? “His desire to privatize
social security.” Mr. Bowles thinks the best word that describes
him is “effective” and he is quite partial to pecan
3. Cynthia Brown (D), Durham, (cynthiabrownforsenate.org) Her questionnaire
was not returned.
4. Venkat Challa (R), Lewisville, (flattaxamendment.org), Dr. Vincent
Challa is a pathologist whose political philosophy “is a combination
of the best conservative principles of governance and a zeal for
personal freedom and responsibility and a free market system.”
I thought it inspiring that in his brochure he says, “…I
was accomplishing my dreams of success in emigrating and practicing
pathology in the US of A. Now is my time to give back to my country
and my party." He believes that high taxes for the middle class,
failing public schools, and stagnant economy and loss of jobs are
the three most important issues facing North Carolina today. Dr.
Challa would like to see President Bush encourage “further
involvement of the federal government in education and teachers
to be put in charge of education—not bureaucrats or politicians.”
His special word is “Brahmin” and he likes cheesecake.
He and I share that passion.
6. Timothy Cook (R), Brown Summit, (Cookent92@hotmail.com): He did
not return his questionnaire.
7. Randy Crow (D), Wilmington, (www.randycrow.com): Mr. Crow who
has quite a few relatives living in the Brevard area says that “The
driving force behind my campaign is world peace…One of the
main reasons God put us on this planet is for us to always work
for peace. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is always peace…Basically
I feel the biggest threat facing North Carolinians is that of an
all powerful Federal government acting in weird ways to help an
elite few and ignoring the US Constitution.” Mr. Crow also
opposes a lottery for N.C. He is informed about federal policies
and “definitely does not want Social Security privatized.”
The word that best describes him is “Prophet” and except
for the calories, he enjoys ice cream with chocolate sauce.
8. Elizabeth Dole (R), Salisbury (ElizabethDole.org): Her questionnaire
was not returned.
9. Ada Fisher (R), Salisbury (704 637-6134): Her questionnaire was
10. Elaine Marshall (D), Raleigh, (elainemarshall.org): Her questionnaire
was not returned.
11. Jim Parker (R), Lumberton, (www.ParkerForSenate.org, Jim_Parker@parkerforsenate.org,)
Jim Parker has to be one of the hardest working Republican candidates
there is. Someone has been sending me his campaign emails for several
months now and each one is informative and right to the point. Mr.
Parker says that the three most important issues facing North Carolina
is “economic peril of job loss and rising taxes, disintegration
of families leading to poor performing schools and many other problems
and increasing federal infringements on state and individual rights.”
He would like to see the Bush policy changed that allows amnesty
for illegal immigrants and food stamps for non-citizens. How gallant
that the word that best describes him is “considerate”
and he wouldn’t mind if the Republican ladies here served
him a piece of pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. (Wouldn’t
a bake-off between the Democratic ladies for Erskine Bowles and
the Grand Old Party ladies for Jim Parker be interesting? You know
we can be quite hospitable here in WNC when we aren’t fighting
12. Douglas Sellers (R), Rockwell (SellersforSenate@aol.com) His
questionnaire was not returned.
13. Jim Snyder (R), Lexington (SnyderUSSenate.net) His questionnaire
was not returned.
14. David Tidwell (D), Climax (www.davidtidwell.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Tidwell is a maintenance engineering specialist who is retired
from the United States Postal service. He finds time to devote himself
not only to his church, Providence Friends Meeting, as Sunday School
Superintendent and Teacher, but also to the Music Barn in Greensboro
and Elks Lodge No. 602. His reply to the “Political Experience”
category of his resumé is memorable, “Every day in
life is a political experience!” He lists the following as
his top priorities: “Restructure the Federal Tax System to
what it was in the 1950’s when our tax system promoted business
and industry as well as controlling greed. Return to smaller schools
in order to have less confusion and frustration among students and
teachers. Promote a larger military, for it’s the average
person’s college, to learn skills that can only be learned
by doing, such as leadership, technical, clerical, etc.” He
would like President Bush to stop NAFTA with five exclamation points.
Dessert? “A good cup of coffee with good company.”
15. Duke Underwood (D), Mebane ( ) His questionnaire was not returned.
16. Albert Wiley (D), Indian Beach (www.wileyforussenate.com, 252
240-2196) Albert Wiley’s friends and family back home in Forest
City and Canton might be surprised to learn how far life took this
Western North Carolinian. Dr. Wiley is a physician oncologist, Professor
Emeritus, and nuclear engineer with extensive experience in nuclear
and biological defense. He believes that experience would be valuable
to North Carolina because as he states “Of 535 members [Congress],
only a small handful understand the complexities of science, medicine
and high technology.” Dr. Wiley’s three important issues
are: “I am concerned that N.C. be as well prepared as possible
in the area of nuclear and biological defense to effectively manage
such a crisis if it occurs, NAFTA needs to be reformed to protect
N.C. textiles and furniture industries, N.C. forests and streams
and coast must be environmentally protected better than has been
done.” He encourages Pres. Bush to “actively get NAFTA
reformed to protect NC textile and furniture industries. The word
this candidate chose is “optimistic.” And his answer
to dessert—apple pies made from Henderson County apples--
makes me think this gentlemen has a real future in N.C. politics.
Dr. Wiley closed his letter with “Thank you for the opportunity!”
No, Dr. Wiley, it is I who owe you and all of your fellow candidates
a note of heartfelt thanks. It was an honor and privilege to meet
each of you.
Please, don’t forget to cast an informed vote.
To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get
comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts
on the matter?
opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do
not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet
CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions. All Rights Reserved.