Carolina Democracy

Candidate Forum Time!

September 05, 2022 JD Wooten Episode 35
Candidate Forum Time!
Carolina Democracy
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Carolina Democracy
Candidate Forum Time!
Sep 05, 2022 Episode 35
JD Wooten

Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today, we're joined by three candidates from Alamance for a candidate forum style event: Anthony Pierce running for Alamance County Commissioner, Ron Osborne running for State House District 64, and Sean Ewing running for State Senate District 25. We hit the economy, gun violence, the right to an abortion, and public education, and of course, their earliest memories of politics. Plus, a few thoughts on President Biden's recent pro-democracy speech and updates from around North Carolina.

Learn More About the Candidates:

Other Resources: 

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Contact Us: jd@carolinademocracy.com

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Welcome back to Carolina Democracy! Today, we're joined by three candidates from Alamance for a candidate forum style event: Anthony Pierce running for Alamance County Commissioner, Ron Osborne running for State House District 64, and Sean Ewing running for State Senate District 25. We hit the economy, gun violence, the right to an abortion, and public education, and of course, their earliest memories of politics. Plus, a few thoughts on President Biden's recent pro-democracy speech and updates from around North Carolina.

Learn More About the Candidates:

Other Resources: 

Carolina Forward:

Contact Us: jd@carolinademocracy.com

Follow Us:

Support the Show.

JD Wooten: With us today are three candidates on the 2022 ballot from Alamance County. 

Anthony Pierce: I'm Anthony, I'm running for Alamance County Commissioner.

Ron Osborne: I'm Ron Osborne, I'm running for NC House District 64.

Sean Ewing: My name is Sean Ewing. I'm running from North Carolina Senate District 25.

[music transition]

JD Wooten: Hey everyone, welcome back to Carolina Democracy. I’m JD Wooten, and for this Labor Day episode, I thought we could do something a little different. Instead of focusing on a single candidate or organization, we’ve got a candidate forum style format today. Our guests are Anthony Pierce running for Alamance County Commissioner, Ron Osborne running for State House District 64, and returning guest Sean Ewing running for State Senate District 25. Yes, for all my Alamance friends, I was having a little withdraw not being there on the ground with you this cycle after spending so much time there campaigning in 2018 and 2020. So, I reached out to a few candidates to see what we could do, and here we are.

Anthony is the lone Democratic candidate running for county commissioner this cycle in Alamance, but there are two seats on the ballot. Ron is the Democratic nominee in the Alamance State House district that covers western and southern Alamance, and Sean is the Democratic nominee for the State Senate district which includes all of Alamance and a portion of Randolph counties. So none are running in an identical district geographically, and none are running for the same office, but all of their districts and their campaign priorities overlap, so it made for a great forum style round up. We went through a little background, after of course hearing about their earliest memories of politics, and then dove straight into some of the most pressing issues facing voters right now – the economy, gun violence, the right to an abortion, and public education. I asked them to keep their answers to under 2 minutes so we could cover as much ground as possible while keeping this episode a reasonable length, and I was pleasantly surprised with how well they actually did. We had a great time doing this, and I hope all our listeners enjoy it too. 

But before we turn to that, a few highlights from this past week. First, President Biden gave quite the powerful pro-democracy speech on Thursday night in prime time. Unfortunately, most of the networks decided it was too political and instead ran re-runs. That’s certainly frustrating, but at least he’s trying. And I’ve seen some critics claim it was a shift from his themes of unity in the past to being more divisive. I didn’t hear that though. What I heard was a genuine effort to reach across the aisle, across ideology, across the nation to anyone who values our democracy to come together and defend that democracy.

He opened by saying that “equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favor to pretend otherwise.” And he said, “we must be honest with each other and with ourselves. Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic. Now, I want to be very clear, very clear up front. Not every Republican, not even the majority of Republicans, are MAGA Republicans. Not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know, because I’ve been able to work with these mainstream Republicans. But there’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country.”

I think his message was pretty clear. And I’ll admit sometimes I lapse into just criticizing Republicans or the GOP generally when I really mean the extremes of the GOP. I think President Biden did a great job of drawing that distinction. Here in North Carolina, I absolutely get frustrated with the antics of the NC GOP at times, but it’s the GOP elected officials and their staff that are really amping me up, not conservative voters or registered Republicans at large. I know and work with countless upstanding, genuinely decent Republicans and conservatives, either at my law firm, on boards I serve on, or even just in the community at large. I’m the President of the local boy scout council, and when our board meets, I’m definitely the ideological minority. Heck, when the attack ads started running against me in 2020, the first text message I got in support was from a long-time friend and conservative. But these are people who genuinely care about our community, state, and nation and are disgusted by a lot of what they see from even their own politicians. And we regularly joke about some of our differences of opinions on policy issues, but we do it with respect and without contempt. That’s how it should be, and that’s different than lying to voters and encouraging organized political upheaval and violence. Political spin is one thing, and we may not like it, but it’s different than embracing lies and denying facts and reality, which are just plain dangerous to democracy. I also get infuriated by the false equivalencies like comparing the sporadic, violent riots in the summer of 2020 to the January 6th insurrection. Were both bad? Absolutely. Are they comparable enough to even put in the same world of comparisons? Of course not. Political violence is never ok, but we cannot succumb to false equivalencies to downplay the seriousness of the threat to democracy that certain, again certain, elements of the far right, who are at home in the GOP, pose.

Anyways, President Biden went on to say, “history tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy. For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed, but it’s not. We have to defend it, protect it, stand up for it, each and every one of us. That’s why tonight, I’m asking our nation to come together, unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.”

So, once again, and just as the President asked, I’m recommitting to my vision that this is not a partisan podcast, but rather a political podcast, and a pro-democracy political podcast at that. So if you want to come on the show and spread your message, as long as it unambiguously includes support of democracy, by all means reach out. I do not care what your party affiliation is. Perhaps I disagree with you on some things, and we’ll talk through that. And just maybe we’ll find more common ground than you think. Regardless, it’ll be civil, respectful, and focused on how we protect our democracy from those who would push us further and further away from that. If anyone has Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger’s number, let me know.

The invitation is out there, reach out. Ok, enough on that. We have a longer segment to get to with three candidates, so very briefly, two other notable issues from this past week. First, last week I mentioned Democratic State Senate nominee Valerie Jordan was facing down a residency challenge. The State Board of Elections convened last Friday, and Ms. Jordan’s attorney, John Wallace, made a compelling argument that it didn’t really matter where Ms. Jordan parked her car, it’s where she lives that matters for residency. And the reasoning he offered for why Ms. Jordan’s car was at a Raleigh address for a long period was that she was caring for her grandson. The board was convinced and voted that she will remain on the ballot.

Second, the North Carolina Republican Party also recently filed a lawsuit appealing the State Board of Elections denial of the NC GOP’s request to allow county boards of election to accept or reject mail-in ballots based on whether a voter’s signature on their mail-in ballot matches the signature on their voter registration file. In its ruling, the state elections board stated that “[u]nder North Carolina law, absentee ballot requesters confirm their identity by providing two unique personal identifiers. Absentee voters confirm their identity when submitting their ballots by having two witnesses or a notary public attest to having watched them vote their ballot. These procedures are authorized in law; signature matching is not.”

I think the complaint is notable because the NC GOP once again relies on the independent legislature theory, this time to argue the state elections board lacks the authority to make election laws and that by directing county boards to not compare voter signatures, the state board is effectively creating a law that does not exist. First, the independent legislature theory is a dangerous fringe theory that should be put to rest soon for all the reasons I’ve previously discussed. Second, just logically, I think they got the reasoning backwards – the elections board was declining to create a new requirement and telling county boards to do the same, or rather to not do something, because the law doesn’t allow it and they can’t create new rules or requirements. It’s an odd argument that on its face seems to get everything backwards, but there are also some procedural issues about the case that might get it thrown out before a court even considers the merits. Regardless, we’ll keep watch and let you know about any updates.

Ok, enough from me. Don’t forget to subscribe or follow us wherever you get your podcasts and on social media so you never miss an episode, and share your favorite episodes with your friends to help our guests reach the largest audience possible. Now here’s our Alamance County Candidate Forum.

[music transition]

JD Wooten: With us today are three candidates on the 2022 ballot from Alamance County. We have returning guest Sean Ewing, running for State Senate District 25, Ron Osborne running for State House District 64, and Anthony Pierce running for Alamance County Commissioner. Alright, we thought it would be fun to mimic a candidate forum style event via the podcast to get even more candidate messages out there at the same time. These candidates' respective districts overlap in some form or another, but none are identical. So we'll go through all of our questions and give each candidate a chance to answer. To keep things roughly equal, I'm asking the candidates to limit themselves to about two minutes per question so that we can cover a range of topic. Before we even get into the elevator pitch and the intro I've gotta ask: for our first time guests, Ron and Anthony, what's your earliest memory of politics or getting involved in politics? Anthony, why don't you kick us off?

Anthony Pierce: Well, thank you, JD, for having me on today, I really appreciate it. My probably earliest memory of politics was probably in elementary school and we did a make-shift election for president. We didn't know who the president was, but we did an actual full election in class. But my most fondest memory when I got involved in politics was when I attended the Alamance County Citizen Academy in which we went to the different departments, but the county commissioner department in particular, we got a chance to sit on a dias. And I sat in the chair's chair. And I remember saying out loud, I can see myself sit in this position. And former Commissioner Bob Byrd remembers that to this day. And that was back in 2017. And since then I've been involved in politics. 

JD Wooten: Well, I love it. All right, Ron, how about you?

Ron Osborne: Thanks JD. Well, my earliest awareness of politics occurred when I was about seven years old. The year was 1968 and my father put a George Wallace for president bumper sticker on my cool purple spider bike. The one with the banana seat. I didn't know who George was was, but when my grandmother saw the sticker, she got pretty angry. I could tell that she was not happy. And she said that we want peace. So I knew that whoever George Wallace was it wasn't popular with everybody. So that experience should tell you a little bit about the politics in my family and the, but I would say the diversity there. I first really engaged with politics when I became a fellow of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership back in 1991, it was early in my career with Duke Energy. And I had built my home in southern Alamance County where we still live. And at that time I felt a deep calling to serve in an elected office, but then three pretty amazing things happened to me and their names are Sarah, Daniel, and Will. Elizabeth and I, we got engaged with raising our kids and life kind of took over for a while. But now we've got them through their education and they're all established adults. And so I thought it was time to take another look at getting back involved with politics and throwing my hat in the ring and stepping up in this tumultuous time to try to make a positive difference. 

JD Wooten: Well, thank you for doing that. All right, Sean, not to leave you out. Last time you were on, you shared a memory of absentee voting by mail and having to poke out the holes with the little styrofoam backing while you were serving overseas in the Air Force. Since then, have you thought of any earlier memories of politics? 

Sean Ewing: Yes. Another hanging Chad incident, my friend. So this is actually from Reverend Tamara Kersey and I opining about this exact subject. It was actually pretty awesome. And, and she was poking my brain about it made me realize another military time actually before the time of I was in Japan, in Wichita Falls, Texas. North Texas where a bunch of nothing is out there except for tumbleweeds and Shepherd Air Force Base, where I was taking my tech school. So after basic training, you go to technical school to learn your job, find out what you're good at and hopefully go forward into the Air Force for me. And it was, I actually remember in the 2000 presidential elections is when that was the first time that I actually voted after I was my memory was jogged. It was really, really cool. I was one of very few young airmen that was actually noting. I'm glad that they were, and it sounds like more have been voting since. So that's a good trend. But that's when it was, I was out by if I remember right at the newspaper dispenser just making my choices there again with that little poker and the little styrofoam backed of voting ballot before I sent it in. So that was the first one up there in Wichita Falls, Texas, Shepherd Air Force Base.

JD Wooten: All right, now that we've got that background out of the way, let's turn to your quick two minute, and I really mean it, your two minute candidate introduction. Tell everybody who you are and you know, your elevator pitch if you will. Ron, let's start with you. 

Ron Osborne: Okay, JD. Well, I, I grew up on a dirt road in rural Guilford County. We were actually the last house in the county going into Randolph County. When I was young, I was priming tobacco, splitting firewood, roaming the fields around our property, looking for arrowheads, and this property that had been in our family since 1755, by the way. So I just felt a deep connection to it. After graduating with an engineering degree from NC State, I moved to Alamance County in 1986. And embarked on a 35-year career with Duke Energy, finishing that career as the Emergency Preparedness Manager for Duke Energy's North and South Carolina electric distribution system. Essentially, I kept my family's lights on by keeping my neighbor's lights on. My wife, who was a nurse and a school teacher and I celebrated a 32nd wedding anniversary just last week. We still live in the same house and actually we still have the car we went on our honeymoon in. I don't know if maybe I'm just sentimental or something about all that stuff, but this is where we raised our kids. And in fact that they live not too far away from us. I'm running because our current representative, Dennis Riddell, I believe has failed to demonstrate the qualities our community both needs and deserves from an elected official. He does not aspire to represent everybody in the county. He represents a narrow slice of the constituency. And I believe that everybody deserves a seat at the table. And so you know, our campaign slogan is an Alamance for All, and that's why I want to go to Raleigh and represent everybody in the county, both liberal, conservative, all shades and, and ends of the spectrum in our county deserve that representation. 

JD Wooten: Sean, your turn. 

Sean Ewing: Love this question and thank you so much for asking it JD. So I'm running it because actually something I heard recently down there in Randolph County with Judge Gail Adams, she's Navy. So I think you and you, and I will let her slide cuz we're both air force, but that's fine. It's all right. So they have a term in the Navy. It's it's an emergency. It's an urgency. Everyone is muted. This year 2022 is an all-hands-on deck situation. We need to make. Everyone is getting out there to vote. We have seen the legislation that's coming. That's happening in Florida. That's happening in Texas. That's happening all around the country right now. Our judges matter. Our federal Senator matters. Our State Senate, our State House matter. Local county commissioners matter. We need to make sure we're making, getting everyone out to vote this year. That's why I'm running. And not only that, but I'm ready to legislate. I love legislation. It's answering to the world of people. It's actually getting stuff done. I'm I love what I'm doing over me city council right now. I know it sounds weird, but we just passed the chicken ordinance. It took us three months to figure that one out. But it's progress forward. We also, this is I'm very, very proud of this, is we had the first racial equity advisory committee in all of Alamance County. And that's saying a lot for Alamance County. And actually I see my, my partner right there Mr. Anthony Pierce, that helped out to help make Juneteenth an extra paid holiday for staff there at the City of Mebane. I love pushing forward and having good progress and having good legislation. I wanna bring this bring this energy, bring this emotion, bring good change to Raleigh. That's why I'm running from North Carolina Senate District 25. We need good change. If we have turnout this year, we're gonna have some phenomenal legislation moving forward. That's why I'm running. That's why I'm helping out all the other candidates. That's, we're all working together to make sure everyone at the top, Cheri Beasley to everyone at the bottom, the soil and water commissioners are elected this year.

JD Wooten: Anthony, last but not least. 

Anthony Pierce: All right. So I'm Anthony, I'm running for Alamance County Commissioner. I believe in Alamance County. I believe county's best days are ahead of it, but it's gonna start with a leader who cares. And I care. And I believe that our current leaders, they care to some extent because they're serving, but I think they focus more so on slices of Alamance County, and I care about all of county. I come from humble beginnings. We didn't have much growing up. Matter of fact, we were poor. If there's a such thing as being below poverty, I think that would describe my family. But it was during those experiences, I got a chance to see life from a different lens to see what it was like to utilize county services, to see what it was like to not have all the resources you need, despite having a mother that was working full time. In fact, working two jobs, but still couldn't get things have a all ends meet. And so it's be those experiences that really put public service in my veins. I fell in love with public service at a early age due some tragic events. I lost my father in a tragic accident, along with five others. And they were in a rural part of North Carolina. And when the paramedics got there, there wasn't enough paramedic ambulances and first responders to actually transport everyone. And so I saw firsthand what it was like to be under-resourced it resulted in five of my family members dying. And then fast forward other as a child, I saw many of my friends and even my brother get hurt in sporting events and none of us knew what to do. So that led me to the drive of wanting to do something about it. So I became a paramedic in Durham in which I served in command staff. And learn what it was like to take care of emergencies But it was during those experiences I learned how to navigate the inner workings of county government. I learned how to work with the County Commissioners on budgets to get our department fully resourced despite having pushback from some of the county commissioners at the time. So what my fondest memory of public service is we responded to every 9-1-1 call, whether you were black, white, poor, rich, lived in the rural areas, lived in a city, no matter what your background was, we responded because we cared about everyone. I believe that's what's missing in our current county government. I think the citizens made it loud and clear. They want their voices heard. They want seat at the table. I believe that education is a top priority. Every politician says education's their top priority, but does your budget reflect that? And I believe we need to do some work in that area in Alamance County budgets to make sure that if education's gonna be our top priority, let's make sure the budget reflects that and make sure that all departments get what they deserve so that they can achieve the things that they're trying to do for our citizens. And last, but certain not least, I wanna make sure that we afford the opportunity for all to have a seat at the table. And if you can't sit to the table, I'm willing to bring the table to you. So I can be those ears and be your voice. So I ask that you continue to support me in this journey. And so we can do some real change in Alamance County because I believe we're right there on the cusp, if we all just get out and vote and vote for those people to make that change happen. Thank you. 

JD Wooten: Alright, thank you, gentlemen. So now turning to our issues, even though gas prices are going down and job growth continues, the economy and inflation will likely stay top of mind for most voters through the election. Recent polling confirms it's the number one issue for Republicans and Independents, and at least a top three issue for Democratic voters and probably even more than that, if we're being honest. What do you think we should be doing right now to help everyday North Carolinians in the current economic client? Sean, why don't we kick off with you? And then we can go to Anthony and Ron. 

Sean Ewing: Sounds good. Well, right now, North Carolina's one of the number one places for business, for businesses to move here for, for businesses to come here. And we will be leaning into that. I think governor Cooper has done a phenomenal job of bringing good paying jobs and good for the environment jobs too. In my district, District 25, we have the Toyota battery. Coming in near Liberty, it's gonna be a lot of change coming in right there. It's gonna be for the right reasons. As well as they're in the Chatham mega site, there's gonna be the what it, the, the electric car company from Vietnam. So that's great. Those are gonna be phenomenal starts for North Carolina. I can actually personally speak about me. We have UPS coming, we have Medline coming, we have a Fisher Scientific coming. We have all sorts of big businesses, good businesses coming to North Carolina, coming to District 25 or city of Mebane. I wanna lean into that moving forward that we can do that we can actually pick and choose. We can we can get the right industries here in North Carolina and help lift people up. There is no reason that anyone in North Carolina should be struggling. We can do more. We can do a better job in Raleigh. I don't wanna be stepping up as a State Senator, make sure that that can happen in our capital. With that being said, we gotta lean into the community college. These new businesses that are moving here, especially the Alamance area. They see a good workforce here. They see a very good workforce and they wanna empower more people. If we need to empower the Alamance County Community College and the Randolph Community College, as much as possible so that these new businesses will have a good workforce and a good paying workforce to get to work from. So these are definitely priorities moving forward, and I think they'll have a big impact in the future for North Carolina.

JD Wooten: All right, Anthony, you're up.

Anthony Pierce: Sure. That's a great question. I I'll approach it from the county level. I believe first and foremost, our County Commissioners can do a better job at ensuring that our county employees and our teachers and our university is, is fully funded and supported to allow them to have livable wages. I believe that many of our teachers and it's pretty crystal clear, they would have to work two and three jobs just to live here in Alamance County because of their wages. I think we can do a better job at approaching and tackling that so that the economy, although things may be changed and things may be even higher in many regards, we can at least ensure that piece of the county is taken care of that our employees feel like they're supported in their wages through increases or retention activities. I think that's something that hasn't been explored. How do we retain our top staff? Cause you can throw money at it, but if you can't retain them to actually stay here in Alamance County and work here in Alamance County, then you're kind of defeating the purpose. And then last but certain not least, as we make deals, which they're gonna happen because all of Alamance County is growing with these big companies as they're bringing jobs. Let's think of a creative way that we can get Alamance County employees hired with these positions. As we offer the incentives to allow them to set up shop here in Alamance County. And then cause I believe that you have to really care about all of Alamance County and all of the residents and our county employees and they have to feel it. And I think that's where we as county commissioners can have an impact.

JD Wooten: Ron, you're up. 

Ron Osborne: All right. Well I believe we first need to understand just what's caused this inflation. The pandemic has created disruptions in our worldwide supply chains. And the war of aggression of Russia has led to shortages of petroleum. Oil producers, regardless of where they live or where they are, are going to sell to the highest bidder. So the government cannot do a whole lot about the price of oil. It's going wherever it is in the world that it's needed and gonna be paid for. I, I don't know that there's any quick and easy solution to solve that the state government could offer some much-needed relief at the pump by temporarily suspending gas taxes. But then, you know, that that the, the budget would suffer and how we maintain our roads and highways would suffer. And that's just a short-term solution at best. For the long term, we need to invest in a modern energy economy. We need sustainable energy that isn't just good for, for the environment, but it's good for our economy. And it's vital to our future national security and economic interest that we wean ourselves away from petroleum. Now let's talk about the inflation that was caused by the pandemic. The responsibility I believe lies squarely at the feet of those who mocked public health officials, politicized mask wearing and social distancing guidelines and the cast doubt on vaccinations. They scored cheap political points under the guise of personal freedom. But not only did their actions endanger, in some cases lead to the deaths and suffering of the various citizens they took an oath to serve, but their actions, as many cases, their inaction prolonged the pandemic and ultimately drove us further into economic hardship and drove a lot of this inflation that we're seeing today.

JD Wooten: I certainly agree. And thank you for that and thank you all of you. Insightful comments, appreciate that. So next issue, gun violence continues to be a top concern for both Democrats and Independents. What's one thing you would fight for if elected to address gun safety. We'll go in a different order this time. Anthony, why don't you kick us off with anything you might be able to do at the county level? And then we'll hear from Ron and Sean about ideas from the state level. 

Anthony Pierce: Yeah, that's a great question. And it is super complex. And so I, I will definitely attempt at the county lens. I believe number one, where we can impact have an impact at the county level is ensure support services are in place, such as mental health support services, where we're actively seeking and starting the process of, of implementing a diversion center. I think that is a step towards the right direction. I think that if the support services are there for mental health, job insecurities, and so forth, if this framework is in place, there will be a decreased need or even presence of violence. So I think at the county level, we can make sure those root cause issues are being addressed. Then I think we'll have decreased there, but also on the, on another piece of it is I think at the county level, we can look at our policing practices. I am a huge supporter of safety. I teach it in my household. I also advocate for many of my friends who are officers. But I believe there's a clear picture that policing practices across all of Alamance County does vary at times. And I think that at the county level, we can kind of promote that consistent approach to policing practices and ensure that at least policing practice are held at a certain standard all across Alamance County and encourage collaboration between the different municipalities and our Sheriff's department. I think we'll get better outcomes as this relate to gun violence, how we police the citizens here and they'll feel protected as well. And then maybe it'll deter crimes such as gun violence crimes. So I think that's where us as county commission, we can have a huge impact to this very, very complex situation. 

JD Wooten: Well, I certainly agree it's complex. And these days I'm just on the question asking side so I appreciate that. All right, over to you, Ron.

Ron Osborne: Well, JD as a gun owner and a hunter and former state champion youth marksman, I can assure law uping citizens that I'm will defend their legal right to keeping bear arms. I myself own hunting rifles, shotguns, and black powder muskets. However, I do believe that we need strong red flag laws and universal background checks. We need to have these measures to keep weapons outta the hands of persons who have demonstrated that they pose a threat. We need waiting periods to give a chance for passions to calm and crises to pass. And we need to be honest with ourselves and recognize that military style assault weapons have no constructive purpose in a civil. We talk a lot about the last half of this second amendment, the part about the right to keep and bear arms, but we often forget the first half of that amendment, which states a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. We need to understand the second amendment in its proper context. If you want to bear military style weapons, guess what? We'll pay you to do it. Join the national guard near the branch of the military. But they don't have a place in a civil society.

JD Wooten: All right, Sean, your turn. 

Sean Ewing: I, no, this is a great question. And I'm getting asked this almost on a daily basis, so I really appreciate you asking a JD. I'm with Anthony, when it comes to mental health solutions. We are in a mental health crisis right now. If people didn't know it before the pandemic, you gotta know it now. It is everywhere. And right now we have a real opportunity there in the General Assembly in Raleigh to pass Medicaid expansion. In the Senate right now we have the votes, but we have got to work on the North Carolina House to make sure that they can pass it too. This is not, this is not something that should be partisan whatsoever. I can't fathom why anyone would even consider being partisan. We, Medicaid Expansion will help everyone in North Carolina and that'll help these mental health facilities that we desperately, desperately need across the state. And we, Anthony, correct me if I'm wrong. We do not have a mental health facility here in Alamance County.

Anthony Pierce: Not yet. 

Sean Ewing: There we go. So we have got to have that. In fact Anthony were at Democratic Women the other day, and the judges are saying our jails are not mental health facilities. They, every single judge that was there said our jails are not mental health facilities. We need mental health facilities here in Alamance County. Medicaid Expansion will be a good first step. And I that's what I wanna focus on is legislation that we can actually pass. We can do that right now. We're that close there in the General Assembly. So why not? I wanna work not only in across the aisle in the Senate, but across aisle, North Carolina House to make sure that that can happen cause it's gonna help everyone here in North Carolina.

JD Wooten: Brilliant answers, thank you all. All right, so this past summer shifting to our next topic, the Supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade, and in mid-August a federal judge here in North Carolina allowed North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban to go into effect. Will you commit to protecting a woman's right to make her own choice regarding her reproductive health and her body? Ron, let's kick it off to you, and then we can go to Sean and Anthony. 

Ron Osborne: The short answer is yes. I believe in personal Liberty and that the government must stay out of the lives of private citizens. The decision to, regarding what a woman can do with her own body should be between two people, the woman and her physician. I believe abortion coupled with reasonable, medically based parameters should be safe, legal, and rare. And while we're talking about it, let me add that I wish those who insist that life begins at conception would dedicate as much energy to supporting the children in our state that are born as they devote on behalf of the embryos and fetuses. Being pro-life too often just means being pro-birth. There are countless children interstate and in our county who are not getting the shelter, the safety, the nutrition, the nurturing they need in order to live healthy and productive lives. Where is their pro-life movement? I think about that a lot, and you know, when I look at the issues of women's reproductive justice, I have three great advisors: my daughter, my wife, and my mother, and my mother-in-law for that matter. And I listen to them and I know that what I want for them is what I want for everybody in the state of North Carolina, that they own their own bodies and their own decisions.

JD Wooten: Sean, over to you. 

Sean Ewing: I'll follow Ron's progress right there. The short answer. Yes. The long answer. Yes. We should always be supporting of women's health right there and very supportive of abortion rights here in North Carolina. It's the right thing. It's should be a woman's woman's decision anywhere that you, you won't go maybe. I believe in smaller government. What's smaller than state. What's smaller than county. What's smaller than city. The individual. We would be empowering women's rights right now and leaning to supporting abortion rights right now. It is absolutely insane that we're going backwards on the subject. We are seeing what's hap what's happens across the country. Again, we're seeing what's happening everywhere. Right now, North Carolina is one of the only, if not the only place in the southeast to offer abortion services. We need to stand up this year. We need to go to the polls this year. Again, we need to vote up and down the ballots for those that support abortion rights.

JD Wooten: Over to you, Anthony. 

Anthony Pierce: Absolutely. I definitely echo the sentiments of my two colleagues here. That's a situation that seems clear to me, but I, I, I do empathize with those that is not clear to, but I believe wholeheartedly that that is one of the toughest decisions that any woman and the man who helped create the child could ever make in their entire life. But I believe that decision should always be left up to those individuals to make plus their doctor. And if they believe in a Higher Being, their God. I think we live in kind of a hypocritical society at times, because there was such an uproar about having, being able to have the choice to wear a mask or not, and not having that taken away from you. What that choice to wear a mask or not too, to me, will never equate to the choice that you would have to make in a situation such as this. And there was not a big uproar about that. So I believe that we should always make sure that we lead those personal things, which is your personal body and your personal beliefs, let that stay personal. Government has no place in that, and nor should they. And also look at, you know, it from the gender angle. I don't recall of any laws that are currently on the books that require a man or forces a man to follow any governmental restriction as it relates to their body. So I don't think we should do it for women either. 

JD Wooten: Well, gentlemen, I'm glad we got those answers. I, I had a little bit of hesitancy to even throwing that into today's question bank, just because the irony of four guys sitting around talking about women's rights to reproductive healthcare is not lost on me, but it sounds like we've got good allies here on the line. So hopefully all of the ladies listening will forgive us for offering our thoughts on being supportive there. Alright, turning to our last big substantive issue, in an interesting twist, recent polling suggests that public education is not a top five issue driving Democratic voters right now, but it's still a top five issue for Independents. And we know that it's always been an important issue here in North Carolina, even if it's not a voting priority in the moment. So let's start with local with Anthony and then work our way up to the House and the Senate with Ron and Sean, how do you plan to address the shortcomings we've seen in recent years in support of public education?

Anthony Pierce: Excellent question one. And I'm actually passionate about, I seen it for my own eyes by attending yes, every county commissioner meeting, whether it was online or in person, over the last few years. I don't think I've missed. But what I've seen is a consistent pattern. And, and I mentioned this earlier on in our discussions that every election cycle, every politician or everyone who's running for office say education is their top priority, or they advocate for education if it's not their top priority. But their budgets never really reflect that true feeling and sentiments. And I believe at the county level, we can change that. I believe that we have a culture in Alamance County, as an example, that our school board, they submit what they think can get passed, not really what they need. And I think as a county commissioner, we can partner with our school board and make sure that they feel empowered and encouraged to really, truly tell us what you need. And some of your wants as well. And by doing so we could really begin to reframe our patterns that we've had as it relates to public education and making sure they're fully funded, because if you do any analysis, you'll see that it all starts with education. And with our youth. That almost is a direct correlation as it relates to, you know being successful in life as an adult. Getting, landing, those jobs that we desperately need, and that we're trying to get to land here, in Alamance County. And being involved in decision making in our government level, it all starts with education. So I think if we truly focus on that and we truly support funding them and making sure we retain that we can really change the dynamics of what Alamance County looks like today.

JD Wooten: Ron, over to you. 

Ron Osborne: Well, JD, my wife is a teacher and two of our kids have served as teachers. I see and hear through them what challenges both educators and students are facing. In today's environment, teachers are expected to not only educate the kids, but address the gaps that many students face at home. They are put on the front line of this fabricated culture war of book banding and acknowledging our society's whole history and dealing with the specter of gun violence. We need to restore our per student funding rate to a nationally competitive level. We need to heed the Leandro ruling. We need to follow the 16 recommendations of the Hunt-Lee commission that were recently announced. We need to ensure that public charters, or any other schools that receive public funding, are operating on a level playing field with our state public schools, providing the same services and serving the same communities. We need to substantially augment school staffing with more counselors, advisors, nurses, school resource officers, and other faculty, so that the teachers are free to actually do what they are there to do -- teach. Because right now they have so many other expectations thrust upon them. And in this environment of coming back from the restrictions of the pandemic, it's hard for them to do their job at the funding levels and the level support that they have today.

JD Wooten: Sean, over to you.

Sean Ewing: Great question. JD, I really appreciate that. So I guess first and foremost, heading to the state legislature, we need to fund the Leandro plan fully, fully up and down, whether it be facilities, whether it be teachers, whether it be anything else, fully funding, Leandro plan will have revolutionary effects here in North Carolina. But, big but, we need to make sure we're working with local county commissioners that believe in schools also. Alamance County just dropped 1 cent in the, in their taxes, which could have gone to teachers supplements. And I know that Anthony Pierce would support teachers and do everything he can at a local level to make sure that that happens, that we keep good teachers here. Talking with teachers almost every single day, and definitely being an engineer and helping out every once in a while, in their classroom, we're losing them. We're losing them to orange county, we're losing them to Guilford County. Heck we're losing them to Virginia. Virginia's only a county away from Alamance County. We are losing teachers by the dozens. And this is a really big problem, cause that means students are losing their continuity of. We've gotta invest in teachers. We've gotta invest in facilities and we need leaders that will believe in our teachers also. I know Ron and Anthony are those leaders that'll help out. Again, goes back to voting and everyone's vote does matter. Elections do matter, even down to grade school.

Anthony Pierce: And JD just to piggyback one of the things that county commissioners can do that I'm not sure is fully exercising with our current kind of commissioners is you can be the county commission can be part of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. And they actually said lobbying agendas to talk to people like Ron, people like Sean and Ricky Hurtado to try to get things passed that will support their counties, especially in the education realm. And I plan that when I'm elected to do that as well. 

JD Wooten: Excellent addition. All right, gentlemen, we've covered a lot of ground. There's also a lot more we could cover. So why don't you each take about two minutes for any closing thoughts, including any issues we didn't address, and might I also suggest, maybe how listeners can learn more about you and your campaigns and that, that sort of thing. And Anthony, since you spoke last, why don't you kick us off there? 

Anthony Pierce: Sure. Well, thanks a million. This was great. I really enjoyed it. I think that closing remarks would be: this campaign is gonna be about bringing people together. I mean, I know many people are just tied of the political climate that we live in now and all the different issues that we have. And I think that there really need some real leadership and leadership that cares. And I think they can definitely find that leader in me. Now, do I have all the answers? Will I wave magic wand once I'm elected and get all the things that we need fixed in Alamance County fixed? The answer is no. But what I can commit to is allowing the public to be part of the process. And I think that's what's missing from current leadership is having the public be involved in the process because at the end of the day, we have a lot of shared aspirations. We all, we all want some of the same things. We just don't know how to get there. And there may not be a vehicle to allow people to voice their concerns. I want to be the voice of the people. I wanna make sure that they feel comfortable coming to me, whether we agree or whether we disagree, I want them to feel heard. And I think that's what's needed. And that's what a lot of people all across this county won't whether you're in the Southern part of the county, when we're talking about zoning, where I serve on the planning committee. Whether you're in the Northern part of the county, whether they talk about the pipeline that's coming through. Or whether you are all other aspects of the county, whether you're in a minority group or the majority group. People want to be heard and they need leaders that are willing to listen, because I believe once we take the time to do our research, which is my background, I work in research now, to get a good foundation of the facts, the opinions of the people we can make better decisions. And I'll leave you with this. Last I checked. When you look in at an Eagle that soars there's a left wing and there's a right wing. But they're all on the same bird. And I think that, and they're flying forward and I believe that is what we can do as a county, and our path forward. Remind ourselves that we are part of the same bird. We're just different size of the wing. And then we have that centerpiece, but we can't work without each other. Thank you, JD. I appreciate it. You can find me at voteanthonypierce.com. 

JD Wooten: All right, Ron, over to you. 

Ron Osborne: JD, thank you for this opportunity to sit around a virtual table and discuss these issues. I I've enjoyed it. As far as my campaign, now, I sincerely desire the support and vote of the folks in District 64 for the State House. This campaign is for people who believe our community needs leaders with fresh perspectives, leaders who will take their commitment to their constituent seriously, and who value civility and respect and leaders who seek common ground on sensitive issues. This campaign is for anyone who believes that everyone should be fairly representative and have that seat at the table that Anthony has talked about. If you are one of these people, I invite you to join us in supporting my campaign. There are many ways to support. JD asked, and I'm gonna tell you. You can share your vote, your dollar, your time as a volunteer, you can go to ronfor64.org. And whether it's Facebook or Google, the internet, Instagram it's Ronfor64. Let me also say this, this campaign may not be for some people. If you are comfortable with the tone and divisiveness of our current representative, if you are content with your elected officials gerrymandering their voting districts to pick the voters they want, rather than the voters picking their representatives, if you want the next health emergency or statewide crisis to be managed by politicians who are more interested in scoring cheap political points so they can be reelected rather than facing hard truths and serving the public good, if you want a politician who pledges to impose term limits for other political losses, but seeks his sixth term for himself, If you want the government to dictate what healthcare decisions you can make, who you can love, what your child is able to read at school, vote for Dennis Riddel because that's exactly what he's doing. I'm Ron Osborne, I'm running for NC House District 64 here Alamance County. And I believe that it's time that we build an Alamance for all. So thank you, JD. 

JD Wooten: Thanks Ron. All right, Sean, last but not least close us out. 

Sean Ewing: I'll start us off. Save some people or go to ewingfornc.com. My name is Sean Ewing. I'm running from North Carolina Senate District 25. I'm going to rock and roll and do some good there in Raleigh. I know we've already got a lot of stuff happening in Mebane and a lot of that's actually, because we're getting out we're door knocking every single year. I'm gonna be probably the politician that knocks you door every single year. Just to hear what's going on, see how the kids are doing, see how the dog and cat is. We need make sure, at least I need to make sure that I'm getting this feedback and I'm a quality engineer. So what does that mean? Something breaks on your truck or your car. I gotta figure out why, what happened in the manufacturing process? I, I don't go to the people that don't go to the plant managers. I don't go to the CEOs. They don't know what's happening on the plant floor. The people out on the plant floor, out in the community, they know what's going on. They know what's best. I'm gonna be door knocking. I need your advice. I need your guidance and feel free. Bend my ear. That's what I'm here for. That's That's what I tell everyone. It's what I'm paid the big bucks over in Mebane for, a dollar an hour, but in all seriousness, that's what I love. And I need your feedback. So feel free to reach out to the campaign. Feel free to reach out to me. I'll come, let's door knock your neighborhood. Let's do some phone banking. Let's have a listening session. The best way that we're gonna get feedback and good legislation and rallies to have good politicians that are out there actually listening to what people have to say. My name is Sean Ewing running for North Carolina Senate. That's all of Alamance County and north Northeast Randolph County. Feel free to drop me line anytime. I'd love to hear from you. So thank you so much for this opportunity, JD. Thank you, Anthony. Thank you Ron, for being here. This is great. I'm so excited for this. 

JD Wooten: Well, thank you gentlemen, Sean, Ron and Anthony, really appreciate y'all all being here today and best of luck with your campaigns.

[music transition]

JD Wooten: Thanks again to Anthony Pierce, Ron Osborne, and Sean Ewing for joining us today, and to everyone for listening. Links are in the show notes for everything from today’s episode. If you have questions or comments, send me an email at jd@carolinademocracy.com. And again, please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and share this episode with a friend. Together, we can achieve a better North Carolina for everyone!

 

Introduction
Candidate Forum
Closing Notes