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 office.

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 each one.

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 pie.

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 not returned.

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 over zoning.)

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, davidtidwell@hotmail.com) 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?
Email Eva

*The opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions, Inc.

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