by Christina Welch, at the WataugaDems Volunteer Appreciation Party, July 31, 2016:
In college I was very involved in politics. It might surprise you, but I was the State Secretary of the NC College Republicans. It was through this experience that I quickly realized what the Republican brand was all about. The Republican message that you are now seeing is nothing new. They’ve just now finally decided to lift the veil.
My faith and Bible are not political tools for the Republicans to use for their own gain.
Fast forward to when I saw the light, and I can tell you that in all my work with the Watauga County Democratic Party, I have NEVER heard those type remarks. Instead, I have this: “Watauga voters aren’t stupid. They will see right through that,” or “Watauga voters care about their air and the environment.” I have never once heard the American voter insulted, nor has Chair Diane Tilson ever asked me to wear a shorter skirt.
You are here volunteering today for the best local Democratic organization, I believe, in the nation.
Unlike Donald Trump, who thinks he can do things on his own, we all know that it takes a village to elect a candidate. They cannot do it on their own, and honestly I believe they have the easier job. It’s easy to go to events, smile, shake hands, and charm people. The hard work happens here in the trenches. It’s the phone calls, the door knocking, the GOTV efforts that really make a difference. Change cannot happen without you — the volunteers — and the work that you do.
People are going to have some choices to make this election year, and you are on the front lines of those choices. You will maybe be the first person that voter talks to about the candidates or the Democratic Party. You might be the last person they talk to before making that all- that matters!
I think we all are aware of what is at stake at the national level, so let me give you some insight into what is at stake at the local level.
Do you want a Watauga County Commissioner like Elizabeth Shukis who puts herself atop a pageant float looking down at the people from her throne, or a commissioner who walks with the people like John Welch?
Do you want a commissioner like David Blust who mistakenly based his decisions on the wrong budget numbers for two thirds of the time during the “budget retreat,” or a commissioner like Larry Turnbow who is well read and understands the complexities of the workings of a commission.
Do you want a commissioner like Perry Yates who can’t make a decision without looking to the back of the room to see if his wife is nodding her head or shaking her head, or a woman like Diane Blanks who doesn’t need a man to do her bidding for her.
And I promise you that if Becca Saunders or I wanted to make change, we would do it ourselves and not be cowardly and go through our husbands!
Do you want a NC House Representative like Jonathan Jordan who lies about teacher raises and won’t answer e-mails and phone calls when I ask why my paycheck is lower, when I apparently got such a large raise (maybe he would understand if he had common core math), or a NC House Representative like Sue Counts who (like her name suggests) knows that EVERY PERSON COUNTS!
Do you want an NC Senator like Deanna Ballard, who doesn’t understand the importance of adequately compensating educators AND state employees, or Art Sherwood, who appreciates the efforts of so many to make NC a better place to live and work.
Each election cycle they say that this is the most important election of our lifetime. I usually roll my eyes at that comment because every year is important, but this year I’m a believer that this is truly the most important election I will see in my lifetime, not necessarily because we are close to electing the first female president but more so because we are close to electing someone completely crazy.
If you had told me four years ago that NC would be derisively named “the Bathroom State,” I would have laughed. If you had told me four years ago that the Republican majority in the NC Legislature would almost completely destroy our public school and University systems, I would have responded with, “No one can do that much damage in such a short time,” but they can and they have.
In terms of the local election, our County Commission has to have a Democratic majority to protect our schools, environment, law enforcement, and Watauga County legacy.
John Welch’s opponent asks, “What has he done for our schools?” Obviously she doesn’t read, because here is what he and Billy Kennedy have done: John Welch made the motion to give our teachers a 2% supplement increase two years in a row! A motion that was seconded by fellow Democrat Billy Kennedy. John and Billy show up to 90% of what they are invited to in the schools, and that includes non-election years.
John Welch and Billy Kennedy championed the greenway connector under the bypass making sure that recreation is a priority. Where have Perry Yates and David Blust been? The Republican commissioners voted against appealing the Maymead Asphalt decision, which has every potential for destroying our air and landscape. They voted against a raise for one of Watauga’s best deputy sheriffs and an Iraq War veteran!
Commissioners Yates and Blust say they are for law enforcement, but my question is: Why then did it take a motion and second from John Welch and Billy Kennedy to get a pay study done to show the value of our law enforcement?
You see the Republicans are about the narratives of education, safety, and jobs but not about the actual people and their work. Imagine what good we could do if the Commission and the NC General Assembly were back in the hands of the competent and the caring.
Recently a Republican friend of mine asked me this question: “You say you are from the party of diversity and acceptance of ideas. Why then are you so intolerant of the ideas from Republicans?” I really took some time to reflect on this question, and I came to this conclusion:
I am intolerant of the ideas from the other side.
I’m intolerant of your not voting to support our local law enforcement.
I’m intolerant of your allowing asphalt plants to pollute our air.
I’m intolerant of your campaigning at Old Banner Elk Elementary (in Avery County) and saying it was a great day in Watauga County. (Maybe candidate Shukis should have spent less time blowing up balloons and more time reading a map.)
I’m intolerant of your saying you are a champion for public schools when you have passed the most public-school-damaging legislation that NC has ever seen.
I’m intolerant of your hate.
I’m intolerant of your bigotry.
I’m intolerant of your voter suppression laws.
I’m intolerant of your bullying of others.
And most of all, I’m intolerant of your stepping all over the Constitution that my grandfather and dad fought so hard to protect in WWII and Vietnam.
Contrary to the belief that I can’t be a deacon at my church and be a Democrat, I actually pray for the GOP leaders often. I pray that the county, state, and country my children live in will not be one of hate and bigotry, but one of acceptance and new ideas.
All this begins and ends with you volunteers. You have the unique opportunity to make a difference, create change, and save us from crazy.
On a personal note, the Welch family — and I’m sure I can speak for Larry Turnbow, Diane Blanks, Sue Counts, and Art Sherwood — thank you and appreciate all your hard work. I leave you with my favorite quote from the DNC: “When they go low, we go high,” and unlike Melania Trump, I will credit Michelle for this wonderful thought to lead us into the height of campaign season.
Let’s campaign with heart, class, dignity, and in ways that our children would be proud of! Thank you!