For anyone involved with or interested in politics, things are about to get interesting. Trying to keep up with all the important news happening in local counties, our state, and the nation already takes time.
As Democrats, we are busy organizing and attending local precinct and other party meetings, as well as preparing for county and district conventions. Recruiting and supporting good candidates for the 2018 elections is another priority.
On a local level, candidates are beginning to file for election for the May primaries.
As a Robeson County property owner and retired teacher in Robeson County, I am watching the Raymond Cummings’ Angel Exchange shenanigans from a distance and shaking my head in disbelief. I certainly did get much more interested when the county manager mentioned a tax rate increase of 11 cents just to pay for this nonsense. Robeson County politics at its worst.
On the state level, there are weekly changes related to legislative and congressional voting maps. The latest court rulings are that legislative races will be held using a combination of Republican drawn districts and court ordered independently drawn districts. As it stands now, I will be voting in a newly drawn legislative House district ordered by the court, but the state Senate district map will be one drawn by Republican lawmakers. I am hoping for new legislators for my district as the two we have now have done very little good for our area.
As for congressional races, there is no U.S. Senate seat up for election this year since Thom Tillis’s six-year term does not end until 2020. I live in congressional House District 9, which is currently held by Charlotte resident Robert Pittenger. He faces Mark Harris, a former Baptist minister who is also from Charlotte, in the Republican primary. As a Democrat, I am hoping for a Mark Harris primary victory because I figure he cannot possibly be as bad as Pittenger. Given Pittenger’s penchant for making racist comments, his seemingly absolute disregard for the truth, and his unwavering support of Donald Trump, I am more than ready for a change.
On the Democratic side, 2016 candidate Christian Cano will face first time candidate Dan McCready in the May primary. While in my opinion either one of these men would be a great improvement over our current congressman, Dan McCready is widely considered to be the likely winner due to his moderate stance on most issues, his status as a former Marine officer who served with distinction in the Middle East, and his impressive fundraising efforts. Political pundits expect this race to be one of the most watched in the country this year, and have estimated that as much as $6 million will be spent on the campaign.
On a state and local level, I have been watching the GenX contamination issue closely. I live less than two miles from the DuPont/Chemours plant, so we know that our water, air, land, crops, and animals are affected by the chemical contamination. I have been most impressed, and a little envious, of the proactive efforts of Robeson County Health Director Bill Smith and county Commissioner Lance Herndon to take action to protect Robeson County residents from the effects of GenX. Bladen and Cumberland County residents in my area would love to have county officials doing as much for us.
And then there is the constant chaos of national politics and related issues. Between worrying about the president’s tweet rages starting a nuclear war, the constant threat of the government shutting down because members of Congress have seemingly lost their minds, soaring gas prices, a falling stock market, the soaring national debt, the flu epidemic, almost daily revelations about the misconduct of politicians, and the drama of the Mueller investigation and issues related to that, I am on information overload and stressed out by all of it.
My doctor tells me that there are two kinds of stress, negative and positive, and that even positive things can be stressful. I have found that to be true in my own life. My husband and I have a precious new granddaughter and are building a new house. Both of those things are wonderful and exciting, but add to already stressful lives. My doctor also recommended that I stay away from watching and reading the news, and try to just live in ignorant bliss. That will not be happening.
Instead, I am trying to find a balance in my life by focusing on the things that most directly affect me and that I can most directly affect. I cannot change the fact that the president of the United States is a man I consider wholly immoral and intellectually unqualified for the office, but I can work to help elect good candidates to represent congressional District 9, N.C. House District 22, N.C. Senate District 8, and to serve as Bladen County sheriff. So that is where I will focus my efforts.
I am also excited that for the next few weeks news coverage will be focused on the winter Olympics, which I love. It will be great to see our country united in support of our athletes. All Americans will be on the same team, at least for a little while. I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.
Patsy Sheppard, a St. Pauls resident, is a retired educator and active locally in the Democratic Party.