Aug 152016

imageby Diane Tilson

For years, North Carolina was governed by Moderate Consensus … whether the Governor was Jim Hunt (a Democrat) or Jim Martin (a Republican), the folks in Raleigh supported roads, schools, racial civility, and a healthy business climate, and pretty much left us folks up here in the mountains alone.

That changed six years ago, when the people elected to the General Assembly lost their minds and pledged their allegiance to a man from eastern Carolina who bought their elections, and to the corporate elites at ALEC (the so-called “American Legislative Exchange Council”) who sent them copies of the bills they wanted them to pass.

And pass them, they did — word for word. Which is how North Carolina wound up in the mess we’re in today. A friend of mine recently said that if anyone had told her five years ago that North Carolina would now be called “The Bathroom State,” she’d have told them they were nuts. Turns out, it’s Raleigh that’s nuts.

What’s the proof? Raleigh appears to have a vendetta against other cities in the state … they tried to take away Asheville’s water system and Charlotte’s airport (both paid for by local taxpayers). They tried to redraw election districts in Wake County and Greensboro so Democrats wouldn’t be elected. They forced Durham to extend its water system (again, paid for by in-town taxpayers) way out in the county where the infrastructure can’t handle the resulting development. And of course, there’s Boone’s ETJ – where most residents living in the ETJ say they want protection from polluting industries like asphalt plants near their homes, but legislators decided that folks around Boone (and nowhere else in the state) don’t deserve that protection.

And then there’s a long list of new laws that have already been ruled unconstitutional — interference in the coal ash investigation (and what appears to be Gov. McCrory’s opposition to letting people know their wells have been poisoned with hexavalent chromium, which causes cancer), gerrymandered Congressional districts, and the attempted change to “retention” votes on Justices instead of the open elections required by the state Constitution.

Finally, there are the changes to the tax laws which give a break to folks who make a lot more money than you or I will ever see in a year, but pile 67 new taxes onto people like you and me, and onto the small businesses that are our economy’s lifeblood. And make no mistake — none of those new taxes are going to help pay our teachers or buy new textbooks for our kids.

This isn’t our North Carolina.

We deserve real leadership in Raleigh … folks who can work together … folks who manage state finances intelligently to fund our schools, keep our roads in good repair, and attract good employers who pay decent wages … folks who answer to us. For me, in November, that will be Sue Counts for NC House, Art Sherwood for NC Senate, and Roy Cooper for Governor.

Please join me in returning to a North Carolina we recognize and can be proud of.

Diane Tilson is chair of the Watauga County Democratic Party

© 2016