Last week, filing ended in the state for candidates hoping to represent North Carolinians in Congress. Since the process began on Feb. 41, more than 100 individuals filed for candidacy.
Many new names emerged, while old faces returned to race for vaccines in Capitol Hill.
We have seen the demonstrated importance of local politicians as Orange County bears the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with this, the election cycle should be a time to uplift local politicians on the federal stage.
While it may seem obvious that all candidates represent the localities they hope to serve, experience and connectedness to these communities allow several of those running to stand out from the rest.
Most notably is Valerie Foushee, who went from serving on Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board and Orange County Board of Commissioners to serving on the General Assembly. Now, she’s running to represent N.C. District 4 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Foushee’s platform is one of equity, and her impact on our community reflects that. She’s advanced the interests of Black and brown students in Orange County K-12 classrooms and advocated for underrepresented communities. Before she was a politician, Foushee was a volunteer and community member.
If elected to the House, there is little doubt that Foushee will continue to advance a platform of fairness and equity while putting her district first — it’s something she’s done her entire political career.
Rep. Madison Cawthron's campaign, in comparison, is running as the Republican incumbent in District 11 and was elected with hardly any political experience. His platform rested on political extremity and support for former President Trump. He was aided by nearly half a million in PAC contributions against his opponent.
We need to advocate for local politicians whose platforms are fueled by experience and a sense of connection to their constituents — not outspoken displays of political extremity or allegiance to any one person.
When our local representatives make a move to Congress, we can feel even more connected to politics at the federal level. At the same time, our community is empowered by our interests being protected at the highest level of the legislature.
When our city council members, mayors and county commissioners represent us in the House, we can bring new ideas to the stagnant arena of federal politics. Ideas that have worked for us, especially here in Orange County, could have the potential to help people across the nation — but we wouldn’t know until our local leaders get their foot in the door.
When it comes time to vote for Congress, we need candidates that have put the community first in their political careers thus far. It’s time to advocate for candidates who have made us — their constituents — their top priority and demonstrates this priority through rigorous community involvement.
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