Friday, April 07, 2006

Congressional Candidates Speak

Last night in Boone, the four Democratic candidates in the NC-5 congressional race held the first of three public forums across the district, to answer questions and to get their temperature taken by voters looking for the right person to challenge Madam Virginia Foxx in November.

Call it Neophyte's Night. One is so new to politics he hasn't learned how to speak without notes. One is probably far too blunt for the 5th district. One has run before but was beaten in the 2004 primary by Jim Harrell. Only one has ever held public office before, and that was nigh on 30 years ago.

But also call it Highly Educated Night. All four have graduate educations. Syndi Holmes is a trained nurse of 22 years. Mark Glen, the architect, went to Phillips Exeter, Duke, and Princeton. Roger Kirkman did graduate work at Chapel Hill. Roger Sharpe (no website yet) attended Harvard, Union Theological Seminary, and Oxford (among several other places).

But can they walk and chew gum at the same time? In our opinion, they make the neophyte's mistake: they want to talk about themselves and their ideals. They need to be talking about the lousy failings of The Madam. Voters won't replace her unless they're shown good reasons why she should be replaced. The reasons to replace The Madam have multiplied like mushrooms in mulch, but only candidate Sharpe even bothered to mention her name in a strongly disapproving way.

The nurse Syndi Holmes was the best communicator on the panel (these are close paraphrases): After the 2004 election, everybody was sitting around crying and I got mad ... I feel very disenfranchised ... We have a rubberstamp delegation in Washington ... With Democrats in control in Washington again, we'll have hearings on the Bush administration's conduct of the war. I'll call for his impeachment ... The proposed sale of federal forestland is the most ludicrous idea I've ever heard. The government has already sold off its integrity, and now it wants to sell the people's assets ... Put a moratorium on international trade agreements and reevaluate them. Look for completely new sources of energy. Maximize our local resources. We have what could become the Napa Valley of the East here ... As long as we keep the current crowd in Washington, nothing is going to change. It's up to you. You are the government ... We've abdicated our responsibilities as citizens.

Roger Kirkman: Elections these days are won by staging and spin rather than by ideas and the truth. We have a cultural disaster in the making ... religious monopoly ... Roll back the Bush tax cuts for the rich ... End polarization through compromise and debate. I'm going around stirring up civility.

Mark Glen: Good hard-working people are vulnerable and are losing ground ... I am a member of the reality-based community ... Rescind the Bush tax cuts to the rich, roll back the capital gains tax rates. We have to bring sense back to our tax policies ... The people who caused 9/11 were fanatics, not fools. Bush was right the first time: nation-building is not in our best interest ... The proposed sale of federal forestland doesn't surprise me, the pillaging of a national resource for short-term fixes. But it's shameful behavior ... The only solution to corruption in politics may be public financing of elections ... I'm a political novice undergoing a steep learning curve ... I'm an angry moderate.

Roger Sharpe: We've got to have a timetable to get out of Iraq, because it's draining our resources ... The proposed sale of public forestland is indicative of this whole administration, of where their values lie ... To help the economy, we should invest in retraining, reeducation of our displaced workers ... Foxx has voted twice against important campaign reform ... I've known Foxx for 30 years. I've seen her change for the worst. She's been a chameleon. Someone needs to hold her accountable for that ... We need jobs, yes, but a good education first, to help retrain people. This administration has gutted public education in this country, while calling it "No Child Left Behind" ... Foxx had a fundraiser in Statesville with "the better people." She called the rest of us "average citizens" and said she would be speaking to us at another time ... I want this job. There's a lot of anger and cynicism in this district. People have given up on politicians and politics. I want to respond to that loss of faith in democracy ... Vote the bums out!

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