With the March 3 primary quickly approaching for North Carolina, the Democratic Party is moving closer to selecting its candidate for the presidential election. Local Democratic officials offered their views on the Democratic presidential candidates and their insight into which issues they think will most profoundly impact voters in the Carrboro and Chapel Hill areas.
While some officials have already endorsed — like Chapel Hill Town Council Member Jessica Anderson for Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Alma Adams for Joe Biden — N.C. Rep. Graig Meyer D-Caswell, Orange said he has not offered an official endorsement for the upcoming Democratic primary.
"I haven’t even made up my own mind on who I am going to vote for yet," he said.
Meyer said within the coming months he is hoping to discover which candidate will gain the support of voters in North Carolina before making any official endorsement.
“I want to see who has the best chance of winning North Carolina because along with wanting us to have a strong Democratic presidential candidate, I want a candidate that will help us win the North Carolina House and Senate," Meyer said, referencing down-ballot races. "I really want to see who does well here, and I think that could be significantly different from who we have seen do well in Iowa or who we will see do well in New Hampshire.”
He said when considering a candidate, where the candidate lies along the Democratic spectrum is not relevant.
“I actually don’t think it matters whether the Democratic candidate is moderate or a strong liberal," Meyer said. “If you’re a Democrat and a voter, you are going to vote for the Democrat. The question is which candidate would turn out the most of either new voters or infrequent voters.”
Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said she has given her support to fellow mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I can particularly relate to his experience at the ground level as an elected official, as a mayor,” she said. “We are the government closest to the people.”
In addition, she said she feels that Buttigieg is able to capture the support of many different voters due to his life past life experiences and work.
“He, of course, is openly gay, and so that is a part of his identity just as his service in the military is that I think brings in other people who otherwise might not be looking at him with a serious eye," she said. "His life experience and work experience is relevant."
She said she thinks his charisma would help to gain the support of Independents and moderate Republicans, while his openness to a discussion of faith brings together people from all parties.
N.C. Rep. Verla Insko D-Orange said she also has yet to give her official endorsement for the presidency.
“I haven’t endorsed anyone. I’m actually proud we have so many strong candidates, so I haven’t actually made a final decision yet," she said.
Insko said she is waiting for the primaries to progress in order to see support candidates gather across the state and feels that she doesn’t know enough yet to offer her formal endorsement.
Key issues for local voters
Meyer said he thinks there is no one issue that stands out above others as affecting voters universally.
“I think the big three issues are health care, education and the environment,” he said.
Lavelle said she believes the climate will be the issue with the most impact in the upcoming elections.
“I think it’s really important that whoever we elect has a sense of the urgency around climate change and ways to address that, in a way that includes everyone including all members of our society, in a way that we can try to be realistic about changing this trajectory we are on," she said. "Quite frankly, it is imperative that happens at the presidential level, at the top of our country because as much as we can try and do it locally, it has to happen in a much broader fashion, not just within our country, but within countries around the world."
Insko mirrored the sentiments of Lavelle and Meyer, saying the environment is the issue that stands out to her as most important to local voters in the 2020 election.
“I suspect that climate change is emerging as one of the issues that everyone is getting to see as a crisis,” she said.
However, Insko also said she sees health care as being another issue with an immense effect locally for voters, she said that in the future election, “We need to expand Medicaid in North Carolina."
"We need to make sure everyone is insured, we need to make sure everyone has health insurance," she added.
Despite the differences of these three elected officials, all of them said it is imperative for the future of the Democratic Party and the upcoming election that the Democratic candidate connect with people of differing views and backgrounds.
“We are a very diverse party, and because of that, we have to work harder at staying united, because we are so diverse, and there are so many sub-interest groups within our party," Insko said. "I think that’s something we need to pay attention to, is making sure we stay united in the end for the fall election.”
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