Note: The Local Reporter has invited all candidates for local office in the upcoming May 17 primary election to submit a guest column.
If you live locally, you’ve probably seen my yard signs around town. One of my volunteers may have knocked on your door — maybe I have done so myself! You may have seen me Saturday morning buying produce at the farmers’ market, watching our kids play soccer at Rainbow fields, or grabbing a beer at Steelstring Brewery. This is my community.
My deep roots in Chapel Hill were set during the 16 years I spent in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools running the Blue Ribbon Mentor program where I helped students be the first in their families to go to college. During my tenure we saw 97.5% of our students graduate high school, and almost all of those students went on to some form of post-secondary education.
During this time working with students, I came to realize the challenges they faced were rarely due to individual circumstances, but baked into the larger systems that govern North Carolina. I wanted to make bigger changes. So, in 2013 I jumped into politics, and I have spent the past eight years serving in the NC House of Representatives,
So why am I running for State Senate?
I’m ready to lead on the big issues and on the big stage.
In my time in the House, I have already led the way forward on major issues that will define the coming years: marijuana legalization and decriminalization, climate change, education, rural broadband access, and free and fair elections.
While I’m proud of this work, I know the NC Senate is where the biggest battles are waged, and where the deals get struck. The Senate always has the upper hand in budget negotiations. The Senate is where this year’s major energy and climate legislation was negotiated. The Senate is where the last few criminal justice reform bills were hammered out.
North Carolina is on the brink of many big changes. I believe my experience, leadership, and relationships will help me ensure that when deals are cut, they truly benefit our community. And when no deal is possible, I’ll be ready to stand up and take on Senate leader Phil Berger and his GOP colleagues, and fight loudly for our community.
I’m excited about the Senate District.
Serving Orange and Caswell counties for eight years has been a privilege and also an education. The two counties have diverse constituents, with their own unique needs.
I have approached my public service by carefully listening to the starkly different voices that make up the community I serve. I have been able to bring people together — sometimes forging unlikely alliances — in order to maximize our collective ability to get things done.
Becoming the Senator for District 23 would mean representing all of my current district and adding Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Person County.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro are my home and the people who live there are my family, my friends, my community. One of the most energizing parts of this campaign has been to hear from former students who have seen my yard signs around town and have reached out asking how they can help me. And I’m humbled when old friends say “I’ll finally be able to vote for you!”
Another highlight has been getting to know Person County. I have met farmers, business owners, law enforcement professionals, teachers, artists and more. This is a quickly changing community that has so much to offer North Carolina, and Democratic organizing in this largely rural county is already off to an amazing start. I’m ready to pitch in!
The collection of Orange, Person, and Caswell counties represents the whole of North Carolina. We’ve got professors and plumbers, farmers and doctors, retired mechanics and future astronauts. My background, experience, and approach to leadership make me the ideal candidate to represent this diverse set of interests. I will approach this new service the way I do everything:
Listen, Unite, Lead.
As an educator, legislator, and leader I’ve always tried to bring people together, and I want to build a strong coalition that lasts beyond Election Day. I hope to see many of you out in the community over the next several weeks. I’ll be working hard to earn your vote.