Casting My Vote

Here are some of the people I’m casting my vote for this November.

Sean Haugh for US Senate for NC

Why would we vote for an amendment that waives the right to trial by jury, which is PROTECTED by the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION???

Josh Brannon for US House of Representatives for NC

Brannon’s slogan: “Opportunity for everyone.”

Jim Sponenberg for NC State Senate District 45

His tenets on Education in NC win him my vote. The following is an excerpt from his article on education budget revision, which can be found here.

  • Democracy and economic opportunity are essential to the American Dream

  • A well-educated public is the cornerstone of democracy

  • Economic opportunity is most likely to be achieved when there is equal opportunity for education

  • Public Education is the best and most effective vehicle to create and sustain a well educated public and provide for equal opportunity

  • Support of public education by government needs to be substantial and vigilant

Essential guidelines for providing effective public education by the people/government are:

  • Students come first
  • Educators are trained
  • Educators are valued
  • Accountability is required
  • Performance is evaluated
  • Measurements of accountability and performance are created by educators (teachers and administrators)
  • Measurements of accountability are approved by users (the community and legislators)
  • Innovation is encouraged
  • Performance is rewarded
  • All public funds go to public schools
  • The doors to public schools need to be wide open, inclusive of all students

While much of the attention has been paid to K-12, the other two components of North Carolina public education efforts, the Community College system and the University system, are in need of salary increases and necessary resources too. As this campaign moves forward, we will discuss not only the K-12 needs, but also Community Colleges and the University. With the neglect shown by the Senate and others, the two systems of higher education are being asked to transfer more and more of the cost to our students in direct opposition to our state’s founding fathers’ instruction of making college available to North Carolina’s students at no cost or as close to free as possible. Our General Assembly today would rather our students graduate with debt than graduate with OPPORTUNITY.

Sue Counts for NC State House District 93 (Ashe and Watauga)

Her view on education and her support of small, local businesses over big business gives her my vote. As she phrased it on her site:

“It appears that since Governor McCrory and the Republician General Assembly are in control in Raleigh, that our state is regressing in many areas, especially Education. I believe that our public school teachers are paid too little (ranks 46th in nation), and that North Carolina can NOT keep the best and most qualified teachers with the current pay scale. I believe that our teachers should be given a pay increase for completing a master’s degree. I believe that we should be increasing the number of Preschool slots for at-risk four year olds. I believe that the “voucher” system would weaken our Public School System.”

Seth Banks for District Attorney in District 24 

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m registered Independent. Maybe you couldn’t tell that from who I’ve posted on so far, considering everyone but Sean Haugh (Libertarian) has been a Democrat, but Seth Banks is the first Republican I’ve liked. He’s also the only one listed on the ballot, but I would never check a box for any candidate just because he/she was the only choice. From his website, this sums him up:

“As District Attorney, Seth will be a conservative voice in the courtroom.  He has a record as a tough prosecutor.  He is committed to working hard to hold criminals accountable while protecting the Constitutional Rights of the people of Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties.”

And it’s his commitment to the protection of the Constitutional Rights of the people that allows me to support him. The fact that he looks like an everyday person I could meet on the street helps, a lot, because to me, it’s like he’s saying, “I’m just another person.” And that humility is something we desperately need in our government right now.

Billy Kennedy for Board of County Commissioners District 3

Well, the Republican perspective didn’t last past one seat. Back to the Democrats, it seems.

Larry Turnbow Board of County Commissioners District 4 

His position statement, found here: I believe Watauga county families expect their children to receive a top-notch education, and their teachers respect.

If the state of North Carolina is unwilling to provide these, then our county needs to step up to make sure our excellent teachers are fairly treated so they aren’t lured away by the better pay and working conditions in Tennessee and Virginia, and so our children become the kind of well-educated workforce that will attract clean high-tech jobs to Watauga County.

We have great resources here to achieve this including the Business and Information Systems departments at AppState University, an excellent communications infrastructure, and abundant available space for new businesses.

Combined with the natural beauty of the area and the recreational opportunities here, the only hurdle standing in the way of making Watauga County a better place to live, work, and raise a family is the partisan one-upmanship of the current leadership on the Board of Commissioners, which is more interested in grandstanding and political payback than in working in the best interests of the people.

Barbara Kinsey for Board of County Commissioners District 5 

Since she doesn’t have an official website, finding her viewpoint was a little tricky, but I managed to find this interview: 

Why are you running for this office? 

Kinsey: I am running for this office because, as a teacher, parent, and member of the school board, I fully understand that – although the state of NC is the primary provider of money for public schools – the local board of county commissioners is a very significant second source. I also realize that the board of commissioners is responsible for an extremely broad range of local issues which identify the “personality” of a geographical/cultural cluster. Watauga county has several issues which need immediate examination and action.

What are the most pressing issues facing Watauga County right now and how do you plan to address them? Solutions? 

Kinsey: The issues which I am most concerned about are recreation, construction appropriate to topographical areas and view sheds, water issues for the whole county, and education. These, as well as many others, have solutions which are particular to the issue. A good source to begin with is the 2009 Citizens’ Plan for Watauga.

What are your thoughts on the elimination of Boone’s ETJ? 

Kinsey: In talking with many Watauga Citizens, I have found that opinions differ as greatly as the number of individuals spoken to. Some respond that they do not really understand the ETJ, even if they are a part of such a designated area. Some imply that they think it is a positive means of helping protect their communities. Others feel that the ETJ has caused needless controversy among communities in the county.

What can be done to improve the relationship between the Boone Town Council and Watauga County Board of Commissioners? 

Kinsey: The relationship between the Boone Town Council and the Watauga Board of Commissioners is one of rather longstanding competition and negativity. The only suggestion I have is that these two bodies of elected ADULTS begin to act like ADULTS and determine to work together for solutions.

Do you have any criticisms of the current board’s actions? What are they and why?

Kinsey: The major criticism I have of the current Board of Commissioners is the uncivil way in which they behave with each other and with citizens who appear before them. Again, let’s act like elected officials and not like SCHOOLYARD BULLIES.

What can be done to improve the economic climate of Watauga? 

Kinsey: The economic climate in Watauga County must be addressed by improvement of air quality, equality in water supplies, building/land use, continued emphasis on the arts, impressive recreation opportunities, and excellence of schools at all levels.

NO VOTE for County Clerk of Superior Court

The only candidate running is Diane Cornett Deal, and there isn’t enough information about her stance on any issues for me to feel comfortable voting for her. Obvious she’ll get the position since she’s the only candidate, but I will be using my lack of a vote for her as a protest against her lack of provision of her stance on any of the issues.

Len Hagaman for Watauga County Sheriff

An interview found here with Len Hagaman cements my vote for him. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Sheriff Hagaman has held many positions within the law enforcement community serving as a Watauga County Sheriff’s Deputy, and as a Patrol Officer, Juvenile Officer, Crime Prevention Officer, Criminal Investigator, Supervisor, and finally appointed Police Administrator with the Boone Police Department.

Sheriff Hagaman was also a certified law enforcement instructor with Wilkes, Mayland, and Caldwell Community Colleges. He has also taught at Fayetteville Technical and Western Piedmont Community Colleges. He has also taught undergraduate and graduate Public Administration/Political Science courses for Appalachian State University.

He is also a certified Vulnerability/Terrorism Assessor for the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

Additionally, Sheriff Hagaman has served as an executive and management officer in the local governments of Boone, Georgetown County (SC), City of Lenoir, and Watauga County. Sheriff Hagaman was elected to four consecutive terms as a member and Chair of the Watauga County Commission.

Sheriff Hagaman also serves on the Education, Mutual Aid, Legislative, and Professional Auditing Committees of the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association.

Sheriff Hagaman is a Vietnam Era Veteran serving as a member of the United States Army Security (Military Intelligence) Agency.

Sheriff Hagaman was also appointed by the Speaker of the NC House to serve as a Board Member of the NC 911 Board and by the NC Sheriff’s Association as their Representative to the NC Public Officials and Employees Liability Insurance Commission, both of which he currently serves.

He is also a member of several local service, church, civic, and professional boards.

Why are you running for sheriff? 

Although, the Office of Sheriff is a partisan election. Most people question why. I have never asked a person to vote for me because I run on a partisan basis. I ask them to vote for me based on my commitment to keeping citizens safe.

Watauga County voters really understand, and quite frankly “get it” when it comes to public safety.

There is no Democrat or Republican way to be a Sheriff. The enemy is not the opposing party; the enemy is the criminal.

Mark Martin for NC Supreme Court Justice

I’ll let the testimony of other people do Mark Martin the justice his reputation deserves. And, if you’re interested, here’s his website for more information.

Justice Mark Martin is a veteran jurist with over 20 years of judicial experience. He is the only active judge in our State with experience on the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Superior Court. Justice Martin examines legal issues carefully and methodically, writes thoughtful and well-reasoned judicial opinions, and maintains the highest standards of judicial demeanor and temperament. His long record of public service also reflects unquestioned integrity. As the bi-partisan group of all former Chief Justices of North Carolina, we respectfully ask you to join with us in supporting Justice Martin’s candidacy and helping spread the word about his campaign.

 Five Former Chief Justices: Chief Justice Rhoda B. Billings (ret.); Chief Justice James G. Exum (ret.); Chief Justice Henry E. Frye (ret.); Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, Jr. (ret.); Chief Justice Burley B. Mitchell, Jr. (ret.)

I may or may not post the other candidates I decide upon later, but I will leave you with one final thought:

If you don’t vote, democracy fails. When democracy fails, tyranny wins. Don’t let America become a dictatorship. Cast your vote and remember that this country was founded on the principle that EVERYONE HAS A VOICE. Don’t let yours be silenced. 


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