Don Vaughan, the freshman Democratic state senator who represents District 27, made a preemptive strike against an expected Republican onslaught during remarks tonight at a candidate forum sponsored by WOMAN at Mahi’s Seafood Restaurant in Greensboro.
Brandishing a copy of the News & Record, Vaughan made the case that the state is on the right track under its current leadership.
“I’m not going to bring you any doom and gloom,” he said. “I’m going to bring you fairly decent news right now. Now things have been bad, but by golly, if you saw Saturday’s paper, you know they’re starting to get better. And the headline here says, ‘North Carolina helping to lead nation to recovery.’ Things are starting to happen because of some things we did in the North Carolina Senate are helping to make this recovery. If you read this article, if you read USA Today, if you read the Wall Street Journal today, you know that this state and its policies – these are independent sources – things are beginning to work and things are beginning to turn around thanks to what has been done in Raleigh.”
Tea Party favorite Jeff Hyde, Vaughan’s Republican opponent, responded directly.
“Senator Vaughan just held up a newspaper article; it said, ‘North Carolina leads the nation out of recovery,’” Hyde said. “You know, those same newspaper sources said that we’ve been out of our recession since June of 2009, but we’ve heard speaker after speaker tonight talk about the anxiety that they have about the future of our schools, about prosperity in North Carolina, about the 19 months of double-digit unemployment.”
Hyde argued that if North Carolina scales back the size of its government based on the principles of the federal and state constitutions, it will enjoy prosperity again.
The appearance of the Democratic and Republican candidates for District 28 seat opened with the retirement of Sen. Katie Dorsett also presented a contrast for voters. Independent candidate Bruce Davis was not present.
Gladys Robinson, the Democratic nominee, acknowledged her lack of elective experience, and instead highlighted a range of civic activities.
“I am a community leader,” she said. “People say, ‘You’re not an elected official.’ Well, you get your best training in the community. I’m a PTA life member, and you really learn a lot in education. I was one of those persons on redistricting that advocated to merge three systems so we would have equity in pay for our teachers, so we could build buildings and schools across this entire county, so we would have good education for our children. I’ve been on the UNC Board of Governors for 10 years, and on that board we have built new facilities in our universities. We’ve instituted new programs.”
Republican Trudy Wade, a practicing veterinarian and a member of the Greensboro City Council who has also served on the Guilford County Commission, stressed her empathy with struggling business owners.
“I talk to clients all the time about how bad it really is,” she said. “But I sent out a fundraising letter like we all do. And if anybody knows about fundraising at this time, it’s terrible because the economy’s so bad. But I got one letter back from a veterinarian. And she sent 15 dollars. And she said, ‘It’s really all I have. And I wanted to send it because things are so bad that I knew you, being a veterinarian and a businesswoman, would understand that I can’t meet my loan payments. We may go out of business. I’ve had to let my employees go. But I’m sending you this 15 dollars in the hopes that people like you will get elected.’”
Wade added, “I can promise you that if I’m elected I’m going down there and I’m going to try to cut taxes, stimulate business, bring new businesses here and do what we need to do to bring North Carolina back to being competitive in this market and to bring new jobs here and get our people back to work and help the businesses that are here to continue to expand and supply jobs for all our people.”
Two candidates in the crowded race to replace state appellate judge Jim Wynn also made their pitch to voters.
Cressie Thigpen, who was appointed by Gov. Beverly Perdue to fill Wynn’s unexpired term, said, “I really didn’t know I could attract such a crowd. I kind of feel like Forrest Gump in the scene where Forrest is running and he’s got bullies after him, and his friend says to him, ‘Run, Forrest, run.’”
Stan Hammer, a Greensboro resident who practices law in High Point, said, “I’ve practiced law for nearly 25 years. I’m passionate about the law, and I’m passionate about public service. And I’m passionate about being able to work in a forum that will do justice and apply the rule of law for everyone.”
Hammer rapped the microphone to arrest a hum of feedback. Later, when another speaker was beset by the same problem, a murmur could be heard from the crowd: “Give ’em the Hammer.”
Thigpen and Hammer have 11 other opponents in the race.
Rep. Alma Adams, the Democratic incumbent in NC House District 58, played to an audience preference for her party by taking additional time at the end of the program to make the point that the Nov. 2 vote is “a critical election,” adding, “Whoever wins it depends on who turns out.”
Adams is defending her seat against Republican Darin H. Thomas.
Kay Cashion, who is running unopposed this year for her seat on the Guilford County Commission, came to the aid of her fellow Democrats by singing the praises of Adams and Maggie Jeffus, who represents NC House District 59.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank two representatives here tonight for the work that they did to salvage the funding for our two shelters at Family Services," Cashion said. "If you read the paper recently you will remember that funding was supposed to be cut in half – it would have just been devastating – for the High Point shelter and the Greensboro shelter. Rep. Jeffus and Rep. Adams and Sen. Katie Dorsett and Rep. Laura Wiley worked very hard to get this funding restored for this year, and I think we owe them a great round of applause.”