Carolina Democracy

Inspiration: Jim Hunt and Hotdog Stands!

March 21, 2022 JD Wooten Episode 10
Carolina Democracy
Inspiration: Jim Hunt and Hotdog Stands!
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today we have another double header. First, I'm joined by Carolina Forward Executive Director Blair Reeves to discuss their recently unveiled 2022 Legislative and Judicial Slates of candidates. Then I'm joined by Derek Mobley, candidate for District Three of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.

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Derek Mobley: My kindergarten class, they actually organized an election for our school. I took this very seriously. It was my first election. And for governor, I went with Jim Hunt and that was a really easy decision for me because there was a man who owned a hot dog stand across from the school. His name was Jim Hunt, and I assumed that that's who I was voting for. I was very happy to see him win. Pretty much ever since then, I've been fascinated by politics. 

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JD Wooten: Hey everyone, JD Wooten here. Welcome back for our 10th full episode of Carolina Democracy. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has joined it to listen for    a few, or even all, of our episodes so far. And an extra special thanks to everyone who has shared about this podcast on social media, told a friend about it, or even just   texted a family member repeatedly that they really should listen. Ok, maybe that last one was just me. But, on the bright side, turns out my nephew Henry who’s not even three yet is listening and thinks its cool to hear Uncle JD’s voice. I’m not sure he quite gets the concept of protecting democracy yet, but I love it anyways. And if you’re listening, hey Henry!

Ok, today we have another double header, so I’ll keep my updates brief. Our candidate interview today is with Derek Mobley, running to represent District Three on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. County commissioners play a vital role in our local government and in services that directly impact our lives, and sometimes they get overlooked as we think very locally about mayors and city councils for issues affecting our neighborhoods and towns, then skip to state assemblies and Congress for our much broader issues. You’ll hear Derek and I talk about a lot of things he hopes to address as a commissioner, but one thing I really want to highlight ahead of time is the education bond in Guilford County that the current commissioners voted to place on the 2022 primary ballot.

For anyone listening that’s not in Guilford County, just bear with me for a moment. For our Guilford County listeners, here’s what the Guilford County website has to say about the bond: “The bond will allow for the implementation of a significant portion of our master facilities plan, including the construction of new schools, the rebuilding of existing schools on their current sites, full renovations of school sites, a major investment in safety and technology upgrades for all schools, and major repairs to schools with failing roofs, heat, air conditioning, and plumbing.” The bottom line is that over 50% of Guilford County schools are in poor or otherwise unsatisfactory condition. We desperately need to address basic safety and wellbeing needs for our children in the schools, and this bond will support those efforts. For those of you in Guilford County, please give serious consideration to supporting this bond when you go to vote on May 17th. And you better be planning to vote.

For all North Carolina voters, here are some important dates you need to remember for voting over the next few months. April 22nd is the deadline to register to vote in person in the May 17th primaries. In person early voting starts on April 28th and runs through May 14th. Check your local board of election website for exact times and locations. During early voting, you can also do what’s called same-day registration or even update your voter registration. So even if you’re not registered, or your registration is out-of-date, go to an early voting site in your county and register or update your registration, then vote. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is May 10th, but I definitely do not recommend waiting that long.  You can actually request your ballot now, and the state board of elections will start sending out ballots on March 28th. I’ll drop a link in the show note for the North Carolina Absentee Ballot Portal, which again, is open now. The primary election is on May 17th and polling places should be open from 6:30am to 7:30pm.

If you’re listening to this show, there’s a very good chance you’re registered to vote, your registration is up-to-date, and you plan to vote. That’s great. Now go find someone else to help register or encourage to vote. Or better yet, volunteer for and organization or a candidate to help register voters, or to turn out more voters. And if you can’t volunteer, or even if you can but you want to do even more, donate to help these organizations and candidates.

And on that note, before we turn to my interview with Derek Mobley, I had a quick chat with Blair Reeves, Executive Director of Carolina Forward. We heard from Blair a few weeks ago, and he’s back to talk about how they’ve identified key target districts to support through grassroots fundraising efforts. Carolina Forward recently announced their 2022 Slate and their new Justice Slate, so here’s my interview with Blair to discuss the slates and how you can help these candidates.

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JD Wooten: Back with us today is Blair Reeves, Executive Director of Carolina Forward. Welcome back, Blair. 

Blair Reeves: Glad to be here, JD. Thanks for inviting me. 

JD Wooten: You bet. Okay. So down to business. Last week, Carolina Forward announced it's 2022 slate of candidates. 

Blair Reeves: Woo. 

JD Wooten: Could you remind everyone what you mean by the slate of candidates?

Blair Reeves: The slate, we had Long Leaf Pine Slate in 2020. This year it's the Carolina Forward slate. It's our list of 11 candidates, and eventually going to be 12 after the primaries, but 11 candidates who are the path to building progressive power in the legislature. And if you want to help the team and you want to help advance progressive interests in North Carolina, these are the guys that we need to support.

JD Wooten: Okay. So how does this slate work? Are you collecting money and turning around and sending it back? Does any of that money go to Carolina Forward? How are the mechanics of this working? 

Blair Reeves: Great question. Short answer is no. We're a volunteer run organization, we don't have any paid staff. So like, it's easier for us to do this. Not everyone can do that. I get it. So how it works is we operate on ActBlue. ActBlue is a nonprofit fundraising platform for progressives. Democrat, progressive person running in the country is really generally on ActBlue. And it's a really interesting platform, because all it does is it connects donors, mostly small donors, with candidates. And so you give a dollar on ActBlue and they send it to a candidate's campaign. They write them a check. They also had this cool tool, which we use called community slates are just so slate. So you find a bunch of candidates on ActBlue, and you can build your own slate. And it gives you a link and you send this slate to other people and say, "Hey, support this slate of candidates." So whether it's four candidates or 20 candidates or however many it is, you can give money to a slate. So if there are 10 candidates in a slate and you give it $10, ActBlue automatically chops up to 10 pieces and sends every candidate a dollar. All your money is going candidates. It's not like a PAC you're giving to the party or some other kind of like weird group, whatever, all your money's going to candidates.

JD Wooten: Yeah. For the small dollar donors, especially, but really any level can give, so feel free to calculate the number of people, on the slate, multiply that by the legal max out limit. Feel free to use that on the slate when you're making your donation too. And I did actually see that happen a couple times in 2020.

Blair Reeves: Yes, you can give $62,000 by the way to the Carolina Forward slate, if you are so motivated. I highly encourage you to do that JD. 

JD Wooten: Yeah. There were actually a couple times where we'd see something like that come through in the 2020 race, and I'd say, what the heck? And then realize, oh... 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. 

JD Wooten: ...okay, that's a name I recognize who's giving to major slates around the country. So Carolina Forward is not alone in doing this on a national level, but definitely at the forefront here in North Carolina, implementing it at the state level. And I think that's phenomenal way of helping our down ballot candidates get that attention and get that fundraising spread out. Because like you said, when a donor decides I want to support the most competitive races for the North Carolina General Assembly, I'm not a hundred percent sure which ones those are, and I might as well give to them evenly. They make one contribution for $110, and you've got 11 people on the slate, which is the current number. That means each one of those candidates get a $10 contribution, and it comes directly from that individual, which actually has a lot of other benefits that are non-monetary, because it shows yet another donor. That helps build credibility of the campaign. It helps build goodwill in the community. It helps get other endorsements. So really, going through a slate, even if it's just a couple of bucks, can be tremendously beneficial for all sorts of reasons to candidates. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah. I think that one of the big things is that no one pays attention to state politics. With the exception of listeners to your podcast, of course, most people do not pay attention to any of this stuff, and they have no idea who is running and who is competitive. Like no matter what happens, Jesus Christ himself could come down in some of these counties and run as a Democrat or run as a Republican, in like Wake County, for example, he's not getting elected. And so you just know who to support. The whole mechanism here is us saying look, we've done our research. We've run these numbers. We've seen the districts. These are the people who can win and who really need your support. If you want ROI in terms of political change, these are the places we need to support. Another fun fact I'd mentioned here ActBlue is a nonprofit organization. The Republican version of ActBlue, it's called WinRed. They are a for profit company owned by the Republican National Committee and they make a profit off of every dollar. And when Trump took over the Republican Party, they sent this like dictat to every state party in the country. Like you have to get on WinRed. It's a total scam and it's hilarious, but that's what they do.

JD Wooten: Well, somebody's got to pay the repair bills for that dilapidated plane that's sitting out there. 

Blair Reeves: Someone's got to buy Trump a new jet, right?

JD Wooten: Exactly.

Blair Reeves: It's not going to be him.

JD Wooten: So Carolina Forward has selected candidates that you feel are the most competitive. This is where the most bang for the buck, the best ROI on donor dollars. How did you select these candidates? How'd you decide how many you know, what was some of your thinking there at a more granular level on coming to this particular slate? 

Blair Reeves: Right. So the big strategic goal for us in this cycle is protecting Governor Cooper's veto. Because his veto is what stops North Carolina from becoming Florida, or Texas, or Georgia, or some other place where the crazies have taken over the asylum. And that's really important thing. The maps are still rigged. They're less rigged than they were, thanks to the Supreme Court, and one seat on the Supreme court. By the way, we also have the Carolina Forward Justice Slate, which you can also find the Justice Slate with you know, judicial candidates on there as well, got to support our judicial candidates. Very, very important. But they're less rigged because of court, but there's a big distance between what is legally permissible under the North Carolina Constitution and fair maps. And that big daylight is where we are right now. They're still slanted towards the Republicans. There is a pathway to a Democratic majority in the House, maybe in the Senate, you know, in a couple of cycles. There's really no path to Republican super majority. You can't say, you can't say never. Right? So cause then it could happen. 

JD Wooten: Absolutely. 

Blair Reeves: Whatever, but it would have to be pretty extreme. So, you know, the big point here is to find those districts where we have candidates who can win and where the leans aren't too crazy. I mean, we have plenty of seats that trend blue where we can pick up seats. We have to defend some seats. We had to remember those. But we feel that the best defense is good offense. We want to make sure we we're competing as hard as we can to take winnable seats. And so, you know, we looked at the map, we look at the very, very simple district leans. 2020, a little bit of 2018 and where the registration stats are. And that shows you in some places that can be a lagging indicator, by the way. So a place like New Hanover, for example, or Mecklenburg, or Wake County, these places are growing rip roaring fast. Historical data's kind of a lagging indicator of kind of where those counties are headed. A place like Cabarrus County, for example, trending very, very quickly blue, and we're going to win that whole county one of his days.

JD Wooten: Yeah. And we just have to be careful with the trending data because of course we've got the particulars of any given cycle, what's the administration's popularity, what's the turnout. But I went back and looked and your seven House candidates, your four Senate candidates, according to Dave's Redistricting Analysis, and looking at the spread on each one of these with the 2020 votes, every single one of these looks like they're within no more than two and a half points at the absolute max and the vast majority are in the point to point and a half range. 

Blair Reeves: Yeah, exactly. And, and so, you know, the key here is point figuring out where we can win. There are a lot of districts that we can win and we should win. I want to play offense, I want to compete as hard as we can in districts that we should win. And that's what the Carolina Forward slate is all about.

JD Wooten: Well, we also know that these districts have been drawn and blessed by the courts and will be in place for a decade. So unlike the last couple of cycles where we had these interim maps that kept getting changed, we are now at the start of a new decade, with maps that will be presumptively in place for a decade. It makes sense now to play the long game and even where you say, huh, okay. You know, the, the data maybe says this is going to be a long shot, a lot would have to go in our favor, but it's still within reach. If you don't run the strong candidate, with the strong campaign, with the necessary resources, then you know you're not going to win. Only if you do all those things, can you be in the position to win, when suddenly all those other externalities go your way. 

Okay. So our seven house candidates: in District Five, covering northeast North Carolina, we've got Howard Hunter; in District 20 from New Hanover, we've got Amy DeLoach; District 35, Wake, we've got Terence Everitt; District 43, Cumberland, Dr. Kim Hardy; District 59, Guilford, Eddie Aday; District 73, Cabarrus, Diamond Staton-Williams; and District 98 in Mecklenburg, Christy Clark. And then on the senate side, we have four competitive districts that made the slate. We've got District 7, in New Hanover, Jason Minnicozzi; in District 11, covering Franklin, Nash, and Vance, we've got Mark Speed; District 17 in Wake County, Sydney Batch; and District 18 in Granville and Wake Counties, Mary Wills Bode. These are all competitive races where the slate will go to support each of these candidates equally. So what do our listeners need to do to support these great candidates? 

Blair Reeves: is the website that is our PAC arm of the organization. That's where you'll see more information about the candidates, who they are, links to of their websites, explaining what the slate is all about. And it links to where they can go and support it. 

JD Wooten: Great. All right, thanks so much, Blair. Really appreciate you joining us today to talk quickly through this slate. Everybody listening, please go look at the slate, links will be in the show notes. Do what you can to support these great candidates. We can make North Carolina a better place if we support all these people.

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JD Wooten: Ok, thanks again to Blair for joining me to introduce and explain the slates. Links to both the 2022 Legislative and Justice Slates will be in the show notes. And without further ado, here’s my interview with Derek Mobley.

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Derek Mobley: My kindergarten class, they actually organized an election for our school. I took this very seriously. It was my first election. And for governor, I went with Jim Hunt and that was a really easy decision for me because there was a man who owned a hot dog stand across from the school. His name was Jim Hunt, and I assumed that that's who I was voting for. I was very happy to see him win. Pretty much ever since then, I've been fascinated by politics. 

JD Wooten: With me today is Derek Mobley, a Triad native who works as a data and analytics professional with the Volvo Group, supporting the iconic Mack and Volvo heavy duty truck brands. Derek is running to represent District Three of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. Welcome Derek.

Derek Mobley: Thanks for having me.

JD Wooten: It's my pleasure. So I'll start with the customary first question. What's your earliest memory of politics or getting involved in politics? 

Derek Mobley: Sure. So I, my earliest memory, I don't know if you'd consider this involvement, but it was actually in 1992. The Clinton and Bush and Perot election. So you can probably tell from my age, I probably didn't vote in 1992, but technically I did cause my kindergarten class, they actually organized an election for our school. And we went in, they had these green screen computers, which were really advanced at the time. And we got to vote for the governor and for the president. And I took this very seriously. It was my first election. And for governor, I went with Jim Hunt and that was a really easy decision for me because there was a man who owned a hot dog stand across from the school. His name was Jim Hunt, and I assumed that that's who I was voting for. So, I was very happy to see him win. Pretty much ever since then, I've been fascinated by politics. 

JD Wooten: I love it. Mine was similar, around the same time, it was elementary school and my class did a mock debate between the three candidates, Clinton, Perot and HW Bush. So I remember doing something very similar. I think my family was in Mississippi at the time. My dad was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. So we weren't talking about Governor Jim Hunt, but we were talking about the three national candidates. So as I understand it, you have a lot of ties to the area growing up in the Piedmont Triad, and then coming back to Guilford County to attend grad school at UNC-G well over a decade ago. Tell us a little about yourself and your background? 

Derek Mobley: So, as you mentioned, I'm a native of the Piedmont. So I was born in I guess really Thomasville, North Carolina, which is in Davidson County, but I lived most of my life in Lexington, well I'll say most of my life up until prior to going to school. I did my undergraduate at Chapel Hill. I was a history major there, but I kind of figured I also wanted to be employable, so that, that led me into something a little quantitative. And so I kind of fell into economics. That was kind of a secondary thing that I grew an interest with over time. I graduated from there in '09, which as you probably know was not the best time to be looking for a job. And I had a professor there, Dr. Burns, who I really admired. And one piece of advice he gave me, was graduate school was good, but he recommended doing a master's degree in econ. And he said that UNC Greensboro, in his opinion for the money, had the best program in the southeast. And I'm an economist, so I'm all about getting the best bang for your buck. So that was how I wound up in Greensboro. And you know I do have some family ties here. So my aunt she was actually a Guilford County principal in the nineties. And so two of her children they've actually been local educators as well. So I've visited the area, was very familiar with it, so it was really kind of excited to settle here. After graduate school, I ended up getting a job in finance initially and really just decided this is the place that I want to make my home. And, you know, I've got my wife here, a couple of kids, so sort of formed a life here. And involvement wise, I've gotten involved with some local philanthropic groups like the Future Fund, which is the community foundation. I've been part of the Greensboro Junior Chamber. And I was part of the Bryan School. I was the President of the Brian School Alumni Association a couple of years back. I always believe in giving back to your community. So that's what I've tried to do while I've lived here.

JD Wooten: Definitely compelling story and the ties to the area for quite a while back. So you're running to represent District Three on Guilford County Board of Commissioners. What area of Guilford County does that cover, and who are some of your major constituencies?

Derek Mobley: Sure. So, I think I've seen you talk on your other episodes about redistricting. So, District Three was redistricted a little bit in the last round, but not a whole lot, I'll say has changed. And if you're talking about Greensboro as kind of being the center of the county, it really starts right around the like the Friendly Center, and it works its way up, sort of on the Northern part of Friendly Avenue. So it goes through the neighborhoods up to Guilford College. And then it cuts up kind of above the airport into Oak Ridge and Stokesdale. So you got the airport there, although the airport is mostly in district, I think it's six sort of below us, but I mean, a lot of people who were affected by the airport, lived there and then you've got the smaller towns of Oak Ridge and Stokesdale, a little bit of Summerfield as well. And then of course, kind of the Northwestern part of Greensboro. 

JD Wooten: Okay. So not to put you on the spot too much, but why are you running for a seat on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners? I will say you have a very compelling explanation on your website, but I'd love to know more. I'd love to hear it in your own words. 

Derek Mobley: So I've kind of seen over the past decade that I've lived here, the county, I feel like, has made, it's made some progress. Some of the cities have made, have made progress after, kind of in the late nineties and early two thousands we know, with textiles and manufacturing, a lot of them leaving, created a lot of hardship. So it's like, I've, I've seen us kind of moving in the right direction, but there also some areas where I feel like, we've come up short and, education, I think, is a big one. And one of the reasons that prompted me to run for County Commissioners, because we control the purse strings really for education, along with the school board. So that's always a fun dichotomy from, from what I understand. I really, I can see that we haven't invested in our education system, the way our peer counties, I feel like have, and the way that I remember, just for me growing up in, over in Davidson County, and the issues that I think we're going to run into. Now we have had some positive news on the economic development front, but if we're not turning out kids who were prepared to take those jobs, they may import them from somewhere else. And so. Yeah, it seems unfair to me to say you're effectively asking the people who live here to subsidize jobs coming in from the outside with the property tax and the incentives that they're giving for these employers to come here and then, are they going to end up waiting tables for these folks, or in different service sector jobs? That's kind of what I see in our future, unless we make a big change now and it would start with the Board of Commissioners.

JD Wooten: So your campaign platform to achieve that has three high-level prongs, one I'd call kind of, and I think these are some of your words too, engaged and excited residents. Two would be broad economic opportunities. And three, safe and vibrant communities. I'd love to hear more about each one, but, well, why don't you tell us where you want to start?

Derek Mobley: I think engaged and excited residents is where I would like to start because I do think that's kind of the foundation of your civic life is you need people who care about their community, who are aware of what's going on so you can try to formulate an identity and set goals for the future. So to me, if you don't have that, if you're just kind of electing people into office and then you're not watching what they're doing, and you're not really caring about what their goals are, where are you going to be as a community? So that's, to me, big, is making sure that we're making sure our residents are empowered and that they know what's going on and that they care what's going on. And so that's part of me telling them, yes, you should care about what I'm doing when I'm on the board of commissioners. I'm totally okay with that. 

And then the second piece, the broad economic opportunity, it kind of comes back to our earlier discussion about education, where you, you really need to be preparing everybody who's coming out to be a viable member of the workforce. And just to be, I think like a whole. The human being that may be sort of the, like the Chapel Hill legacy in me is that's kind of their big thing is they want you to be well-rounded, liberal arts education. Of course, you want to be employable, but it's not all about just being able to do the hard skills, right? Like you need to have some foundation in the humanities to be sort of a whole person and sort of again, where that comes back to the broad economic opportunity. 

Another thing I've really noticed, I feel like in our county, is there so much focus on certain areas. I'll give you an example. I like going downtown. I think it's nice to have a vibrant downtown, but it's not the end all be all of Guilford County, right? There are so many other neighborhoods and areas and communities that are valuable and that should be able to kind of formulate their own identity. And so, when I say broad, that's what I mean is it's like, we, we need to make sure that we're not getting too focused on just certain areas of our county. 

And then, I guess that fills into the last piece, the safe and vibrant community, I do kind of design them to build on top of each other. So, in my opinion, if you're engaged and excited and with what's going on in your community, if you feel like you have broad economic opportunity, then you're kind of in a position where you can think about what's next, for you or for your community, for your culture and, the goal of where you want to be. and you want as many people, to come with you along the way as, as you can, you don't want to get into this, , scarcity managed by crisis mentality that I feel like we've kind of fallen into in the past where, , it's, there's not a lot of focus on the future. It's just fixing what's wrong right now, which is just not a sustainable strategy in mind. 

JD Wooten: Yeah, some would argue only staying in the immediate moment and only putting out the current fires is not really strategy at all. It's just managing the current.

Derek Mobley: Right. 

JD Wooten: So let's go back to the engagement piece. I've heard you say that you want to promote increased opportunities to engage the diverse talent pool in our county through advisory commissions, feedback surveys, public events. That all sounds wonderful. Can you tell me a little more, what you kind of envision there, or some of the things you might want to try and do with that? 

Derek Mobley: I think the advisory commissions are a big piece of that. I talked about having a business advisory commission and maybe a digital strategy commission and this is something, you know, I feel like the city of Greensboro does a decent job of this is where they have their different boards and commissions, and it's really a good training place for people to get involved, to see local issues. And then maybe later on, they run for local office. You're tapping people and you're getting them familiar with the political environment and then they can kind of take that next step of service. I'm definitely fundamentally believer in a democracy, right? So I don't discount somebody coming in completely from the outside with no experience and getting elected, sometimes that can help and it's what you need, but you can't really have everybody coming in with no context and expects to have a successful result. So, that, to me is the biggest focus. When I talk about tapping our local talent is really being intentional about finding people and giving them that opportunity to publicly serve. And then if they want to choose to run later on that would be great. But if not, we always need bright people to hold us accountable and give us ideas. 

JD Wooten: I couldn't agree more. I think we take for granted a lot of the time that our elected leaders need to be able to get some experience somewhere doing something. Just running a business, or just working for a private company, or just working in the public sector in a particular job is still so different than working in that elected office. And I think that that's a great idea for having a talented and trained pipeline ready to go. And that doesn't mean somebody has to run. That just means that you've got a talent pool they're ready and able to, and also helping with those advisory functions. So on the economic side, the broad economic support, you've talked about economic opportunities across the county by advocating for efficient services, sound finances, and minimal red tape. I think that sounds very appealing. So what are some of your thoughts on that? 

Derek Mobley: I think the best thing we can do there is, , sort of, I would say benchmarking exercises and, , this is something I may learn more about as I'm campaigning, but the county's budget compared to something like the city of Greensboro's when you have response times, for example, for police officers, or you're doing something with garbage pickup, like making sure that you have, what they call KPIs or key performance indicators , like this is what response time should be, or this is how quickly, , we would expect this permit to be processed and then, , measuring it and seeing, okay, are you hitting that goal, or not? And if not, you got to try and figure out why, but first you kind of have to figure out what the goal is. And so, that's where, I think that the peer analysis can help. It's like, hey, if Durham County is approving these permits a month before we approve the same type of permit. In order to be competitive, we've got to figure out what's going on. Right? so that's where I think, minimizing the red tape really comes in. For sound finances. It's just to say, we're going to use appropriate financing when we feel it's appropriate. Right? So like Guilford county has a very strong credit rating. So, my opinion, there are some things like the schools that we need to borrow to spend money on, but we're not going to borrow to the extent where we know that we would jeopardize that. So, making sure you're maintaining the sound finances. And that's where it cuts both ways, too, with revenue and expenses. I'm not going to promise people that I'm going to save them revenue when there are expenses that are necessary for them to be brought in. So, I feel like that's a weakness a lot of times with conservatives, is they're very eager to cut taxes, but if expenses stay the same, you get into this management by crisis mentality that we were talking about earlier, where it's like, there's never enough money to do what we need to do. And because you were not practicing sound fiscal policy, maybe it was conservative, but it was not sound based off of what you needed to do. Right? 

JD Wooten: If your only goal is to cut taxes, and so every year you're benchmarking yourself, have a cut a little more than I did last year. You're eventually not going to have anything. 

Derek Mobley: Right. 

JD Wooten: And at some point, well, okay, we've met our goals, but how do we provide the essential services that we need to be providing? 

Derek Mobley: And that's where, I think local government and the state legislature, where I feel like people really need to understand that again, especially with education is the local education system, it's funded partially by the county, but also by the state. And so if state funding is not keeping pace with where it should be, the county has to make up that gap, or if they don't, you get in the position we're in, , where you have infrastructure, that's not being maintained. You have teachers who are maybe leaving because they're not. Paid enough or you're not paying them competitively compared to other states. the county can step in and provide supplements and can do the bonds, like we're seeking to do, but if you don't do that, you're going to be the one that loses out. So that's, to me, I think one of the good things I'll say about having the Democratic majority now on the board of commissioners, which is a recent thing, it's been there since basically 2020. So it's fresh. Before that it was a conservative majority. If you're in a state that's conservative and you're also in a county that's conservative, you can see this in the map of North Carolina, like the conservative counties in the conservative state are really struggling. Counties like Mecklenburg and Raleigh, Durham, and Orange, where, yes, maybe we're underfunding our education system, but the county is really stepping up to fill that gap. They're booming, right? So, hopefully that's the direction that we're going to be going as well. So I'm hoping, like I said, that the voters understand that.

JD Wooten: So I think the last thing I'll ask about on your campaign platform is that you talk about prioritizing safe and vibrant communities by supporting frontline workers and first responders, but you also call for equitable access to human services. Can you tell me a little more about that? 

Derek Mobley: Yep. So that's sort of connected to the broad economic opportunity discussion before where I think we've seen, especially with COVID, the importance of first responders, frontline workers. I kind of include teachers in that as well. They designated them as essential workers. I think people would agree, our teachers, our law enforcement, our EMS are essential workers. And yet, right now we have staff shortages in pretty much all of those areas again, because we're not paying competitively. So, that's part of it. You've got to make sure you're paying competitively so that you're staffed appropriately. And then you can start talking about the response times and things that we talked about earlier. 

Calling for equitable access, again, that's related to the broad economic opportunity, which is to say, in my opinion, it really shouldn't matter where you live in the county. If you need an EMS worker, if you need a firefighter, if you need a first responder, there shouldn't be a lot of variance in those response times, and again, that goes to safe and vibrant community. Hey, it doesn't matter where I live, I feel like I'm getting the same level of service and that service is adequate for me to feel I can plan for my future, right? And I think right now we can say that that's definitely not true all over Guilford County. So the goal is what do we need to do to get there, right? 

JD Wooten: Absolutely. All right, so you've laid out numerous goals for Guilford County ranging from public education proposals, to public safety, to new advisory commissions, and more. And you've already talked about some of those things. What can you tell me about how you came up with these goals and which ones would you prioritize first if you had to pick just one or two in your first few months on the board? 

Derek Mobley: The way I came up with them is part of it's an internal sort of research and the other, the other piece is just talking to people, right? So, I'll say the education plank is obviously, I think a big one and that kind of ties into all three of my pillars. And so that would be, I think one of the first priorities is, for people who, we have a primary coming up and the school bonds should be on the ballot there, assuming you're listening from Guilford County. Going go out and support the school bond because that's when all the fun happens, right. First you got to get the approval to be able to do all these wonderful things for the schools that we'd like to do, and if you go to my website, you'll see I have a link to the facilities, master plan, and there's a piece in there for Grimsley High School, which is in my district and Northwest high school, which is in my district. And then the theater schools to them. So there's a big project there to basically I think rebuilding Kaiser middle school is part of it and creating a new high school in the Northwest that has an aviation magnet program is part of it. So I want everything to happen, but I am in district three. So I would be really interested in making sure that those things are prioritized. So I would say that would be the first big piece. And then the second one revolves around, maybe the protection, crime protection. So I do have an idea for a teen summer employment initiative that could be run through the juvenile crime prevention council. I've seen this idea, I'll say, come from other candidates, Justin Outling had had a similar type idea for the city, which we've discussed. I would be supportive of that. You know, in reading kind of the mission of the juvenile crime prevention council and, given that the county government's reach is wider than just the city of Greensboro. I feel like, the county would be an appropriate place to have, a program that could maybe link up with that and then have a greater reach.

JD Wooten: I love it. So tell me, Derek, where can people go to learn more about you, your campaign, and how they can help get you elected?

Derek Mobley: So my website is I tried to keep it as simple as I could. That's got where you can make donations it's where you can read all the pillars and the goals that we've been talking about. It's also got a link to my Facebook and Instagram page. I've also got series of YouTube videos where I talk about a lot of these issues as well. each one's about a minute long, so for a total of 20 minutes. So if you put in the time in about 20 minutes, you can get a good idea of what I'm about and the things I intend to advocate for.

JD Wooten: They're great videos. I enjoyed watching a few of them. anything else you want to tell our listeners Derek before we close? 

Derek Mobley: I mean, I guess I'll just reiterate the bond referendum coming up on May 17th because that is really, I think the catalyst to make all these other things possible. if you're in favor of that, definitely show up and support it because that really will give us the ammunition to take the county to the next level. And we can start now fixing the issues that I think have kind of been systemic for a while and we can start preparing all these students to take the wonderful jobs that are hopefully coming to the county. 

JD Wooten: Well thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you taking the time and best of luck with the election. Hopefully we'll be speaking again soon.

Derek Mobley: Looking forward to it. Thank you for having me.

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JD Wooten: Thanks again to Derek for taking the time to join us today. Links for Derek’s website and social media are in the show notes to learn more, volunteer, and donate. Remember, if you or someone else you know should be on the show, send me an email at That’ll be in the show notes, too.

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Interview with Blair Reeves
Interview with Derek Mobley
Closing Notes