North Carolinians pack legislator accountability events
Hundreds attend kickoffs of Common Cause NC’s #UniteNC Town Hall Tour
CARTHAGE, N.C. (7/31/23) — Last Monday night, a standing-room-only crowd of more than 80 residents gathered in Carthage to address their state lawmakers at a #UniteNC Town Hall.
These Moore County residents demanded elected officials hear their concerns on everything from teacher shortages to an upcoming redistricting process. The four members of the Moore County legislative delegation were invited to the Town Hall, but did not attend. Common Cause made invitations as well to the July 20th #UniteNC kickoff event in Mint Hill. Sen. Joyce Waddell (SD-40) and Rep. Laura Budd (HD-103) attended, but Rep. Tricia Cotham (HD-112) did not attend nor respond to correspondence.
The Moore County and Mint Hill #UniteNC Town Halls are among the dozens being hosted this summer in competitive voting districts by nonpartisan voting rights group Common Cause NC and the organization’s state and local partners. The centerpiece of each event gives residents a chance to ask questions of their elected representatives and respond to prompts such as “what do you want the future of North Carolina to look like?”
The #UniteNC Town Hall Tour continues today, Monday, July 31, in High Point. The Tour will continue next month in Gibsonville, Fayetteville, Wentworth, Concord, Wilmington, and Salisbury, with more locations announced in the coming weeks. Members of the public can RSVP to a town hall in their area by visiting ccnc.me/UniteNC.
Below are quotes from event organizers and town hall attendees:
“Some state lawmakers are hell-bent on dismantling our democracy, rushing through new restrictions on popular voting options and manipulating their districts for partisan gain, among other problematic proposals,” said Gino Nuzzolillo, Campaigns Manager at Common Cause North Carolina. “Every issue before the legislature deserves robust public input, thoughtful debate and full transparency. Lawmakers are conducting ‘the People’s business’ in the People’s House. These #UniteNC Town Halls are meant to remind lawmakers who they work for — and remind the public that we’re putting people over politics ahead of the important elections to come.”
“Welcome to Carthage, the hometown of my African American and Native American ancestors,” said O’Linda Watkins-McSurely, President of the Moore County NAACP, as she opened the July 24th event. “We are here for many reasons, but especially because when I think about the future of North Carolina, I want voting rights restored to 56,000 formerly incarcerated people, and I want to make sure we take care of our state’s teachers.”
Southern Pines resident Ellie Collins said to the cheers of the standing-room-only crowd, “We cannot have fair elections until we get rid of gerrymandering.”
For Woodlake resident John Misiaszek, his top concern was straightforward: “Our state and local governments need to better fund our public schools.”
Amid ongoing negotiations to finally expand Medicaid in North Carolina, residents made sure to emphasize healthcare as a top priority. Chelley Trammell, a Charlotte resident, after telling her story struggling to gain consistent healthcare, said “Medical care should be accessible for everyone.”
“Do not vilify us. We’re here to help you,” Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg County Board of Elections Director, told the crowd. “We’re not trying to stop you from voting, we’re trying to get you to vote.” Looking at Mecklenburg County Commissioner Arthur Griffin in the audience, Dickerson said smiling, “A pay raise would be nice though.”
Common Cause NC is a nonpartisan grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.