My family moved to North Carolina in August of 1986. We left behind family in New Jersey and Maryland, but my father was a furniture salesman and NC was a hub for furniture manufacturing in the US. He felt there was a better chance to support his family in NC, so we moved to the suburbs of Charlotte. Charlotte was a big change for us. It was large but not as large at northern cities my parents grew up around (Baltimore and New York). It was the right fit for raising a family, large enough to have plenty of social and cultural opportunities without the hustle and bustle of the Northeast.
What I remember most about moving to North Carolina was how green it was. Every family member who visited us would always comment on how many trees there were. The air smelled fresher and looked cleaner. Most of all, we noticed how friendly and welcoming everyone was. They would offer to help you and ask how you were doing all the time. Before long, we started feeling that these were our people. We had found our true home.
I graduated from South Mecklenburg High School where I was the school mascot and was active in student government. I was active in the Youth Involvement Council where I participated in volunteer projects such as building a storage unit for a women’s shelter and answering phones for tree service in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. And with that group I got my first taste of involvement with government, participating in many Charlotte City Council and County Commission meetings.
I attended Appalachian State University where I double-majored in political science and communications with a concentration in broadcasting. While there, I was active in student government and helped found a student run television station we called Appalvision. It was there that I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whenever I need to recharge, I take a trip to the Parkway. Whether exploring Mt. Mitchell or enjoying historic Asheville, I feel at home in Western North Carolina. Though I have had employment opportunities out of state, I’ve never seriously entertained these options. We love calling North Carolina our home.
My wife and I moved our family to McAdenville in Gaston County for many reasons. We love the small town appeal with easy access to Charlotte. We love our house, our neighborhood, and the surrounding area. And, of course, we have the Christmas lights in December. We are so fortunate to have our kids grow up in Christmastown USA and experience the magic of a community celebrating the season of joy in a very demonstrative way.
The people of North Carolina are amazing. We’re tough. We’re smart. We have been known as one of the most progressive states. Our education system has been a model for other states, thanks to politicians like Terry Sandford and Jim Hunt. We were on the cutting edge in defining the “New South”. Unfortunately, that progress is in great jeopardy. Just as our history includes great progress, it also includes segregation and discrimination. It also includes Amendment One and HB2. This is not the North Carolina I know. Progress scares some people. They fear losing their place in the world. But I believe most North Carolinians know that there is room for everyone at the table. We can carry the lessons of the past, while embracing positive change, seeking expanded opportunities to embrace the American dream.
We have entered a political period in NC where those struggling with the new world are scrambling to protect their myopic world view. They seek to impose their will over the majority and will gradually subvert the democratic process. We see this in the egregious gerrymandering that has a near 50/50 state with only 3 Democratic Representatives in the house out of 13 seats. We see this in a state house where the Democrats must win over 60% of the votes in order to win a majority of seats. This is made worse by measures to restrict the precincts in minority areas and the reduction of early voting times across the state that benefit working people who face economic hardships to vote on Election Day.
I am running to represent the people of the 10th district because I believe that Republicans have gone too far. North Carolina deserves better representation in Congress. We deserve having our interests served and not undermined in favor of the rich and powerful. We must protect NC’s environment from the effects of climate change. We must protect our voting rights. From the erosion of our precious Outer Bank beaches to the air quality and natural beauty of our Blue Ridge Mountains, we have a duty to serve as protective stewards of our environment so that our children and their children can enjoy the majesty of our great state. We must ensure that the people of NC have access to affordable healthcare. We must create jobs in order for our people to provide for their families and live comfortably. We need to continue to make NC a place where we want our children to stay and raise their own children. We owe it to this great state and its people.
I am not a career politician. I am not part of the one percent. I work a full-time job like most of you. I am not running for Congress because I can afford it. I am running for Congress because I believe in this state and its people and know we can restore our way of life and ensure no one is left behind because of the color of their skin, who they love, where they’re from or how they worship. Together, we will be the North Carolina we were meant to be. I love this state. I love the people. I will strive to bring prosperity and equality. I will work for you and no one else. On that, you have my word.