Takeaways for everyone about getting out there to meet candidates
I’m a nerd. Once I learned about New Bern’s Mayoral Forum on April 14, 2022 I started looking forward to it and while you may not live where I live, it is interesting to get out of the house and meet the candidates. I met them all -one was a No Show- and as I networked following the event, I tossed out comments and questions about the current political climate.
I used to be straight ticket voter and I feel so regretful looking back, blindly picking and choosing based on party affiliation. Why did I do that? Blech! Now, I plan for an election. I know it sounds crazy and creates lots of additional work… but we have to. If you’re a North Carolinian, then you can plan too by starting with a public Voter Search, linked here. Share the link with your friends. When you follow the link, you need to search your name and useful things come up about your past voter history, future election sites/dates and your very own handy sample ballot. I used to print my sample ballot each election with the intent to use it as a cheat sheet. I would even print an extra for my kid and let her practice voting. Many people think you can’t bring items into your voting booth, but that is incorrect. Heck, even when rules are broken inside voting precincts many of us have personally witnessed no corrections being made. Very disturbing.
So what’s interesting about candidate forums?
Meeting someone in person gives the voter useful information.
Handshakes and face-to-face conversations should make a comeback in 2022!
One campaign knew I was trying to learn more about the candidate and invited me to an event on May 3 instead of inviting me to the earlier forum. Odd.
Even if you have all the time in the world, you will not know where the candidates land on all issues. For example, the sanctity of life and protecting the preborn is an important issue to many, but it’s not exactly an issue for municipal candidates unless we have an abortion mill in the city.
Asking candidates if they support expanding educational options is a popular issue, but we do not have a municipal school district at this time.
One candidate mentioned redistributing my municipal tax dollars to the government-run schools and I am bothered when I hear this. Our county tax dollars already go to public schools, so why would we pay again when we know we are spending more than ever on K-12 education and the outcomes are not improving? In addition, Craven County has a nice chunk of homeschoolers(see chart) who pay a local tax share to county schools and get nothing towards their own K-12 education costs and needs. I think it would be a hard sell to demand dollars from the municipal budget and place them in the County pile.
The past two years have placed burdens on the world. Families have been divided over many issues which some might say were manufactured by partisans. It is critical to know where candidates land on recent occurrences of government force. I literally watched a campaign staffer move away from me towards the door when I asked, “would I have been permitted into the New Bern Police Department without a mask?” In my opinion, it is horrifying to hear politicians say they think an Executive Order is the law. One man does not make laws in the state of NC! That is what a king does.
This led me to ask if the candidate was aware of exemptions/exceptions written into the document he interpreted as law. He was. Exemptions/exceptions are not documentation from a doctor, but they are simply a get-out-of-mask card for those who cannot breathe in a mask. Below is an example of exceptions, which are written into several EO’s.
Unfortunately, the next follow up question led me to learn that the candidate went to someone’s place of employment to get them to comply with government-forced masks. Yikes.
I really wasn’t sure if I would be walking into an empty room. I was pleased to see a decent crowd in attendance, but later learned after meeting Alderman Aster -who’s running unopposed- that the Taberna and Carolina Colours regions are the most politically active and raked in the most votes out of all the New Bern municipal districts. By being present, I was also able to share thoughts on the bus shelter debacle with Aldermen Aster, Odham and Harris.
After leaving the forum, I was reminded by the chatter around town that many voters think there is a “good old boy” network and conversely some say there’s something positive about a political outsider. The thing is if people are going to keep making this accusation, then I need to see the evidence. Are voters accusing politicians of backdoor deals? What deals? Are we keeping an open mind, or just joining in with the mob mentality? Meet with the candidates and prove or disprove the rumors.
Find reasons to be an informed voter. At least then, we can go to bed at night and say we did our civic duties. On a final note, I will say I asked each Mayoral candidate for their resumes for my own personal viewing. I suggest we all start asking the question, “What makes you qualified to be Mayor of New Bern and can you show me?”