Thursday, July 05, 2012

Elizabeth Motsinger-- Taking On Virginia Foxx In North Carolina's Andy Griffith Country


Surry County, North Carolina is the heart of the 5th congressional district. While narrowly winning the state in 2008, Obama lost Surry to John McCain, 34-64%. Democrat Kay Hagen beat GOP incumbent Elizabeth Dole that year, 53-44% but she lost Surry as well, 43-54%. Of course, long time far right Congresswoman Virginia won Surry County in 2008, 61-39%. And 2 years later she beat Billy Kennedy with 66% of the vote, while Sen. Richard Burr beat Elaine Marshall with 67%. In other words, Surry hasn't been a mecca for Democrats. Which was a lifelong tragedy for lifelong progressive Democrat, Surry County's most beloved favorite son, Andy Griffith. Andy, who died Tuesday in his home on Roanoke Island, NC (age 86). Andy was born and raised in Surry County though-- in Mt. Airy, the model for Mayberry. The population is just over 10,000 now, but when Andy was growing up it was less than half that. The not so fictional restaurant Snappy Lunch is still serving its famous pork chop sandwich there and there is a barbershop-- albeit a renamed one-- called Floyd's. Mt. Airy also boasts the Andy Griffith Museum.

Andy Griffith, who is revered across the South-- probably more for his roles as Sheriff Andy Taylor and Ben Matlock-- than for who he actually was as a person-- and everyone took his passing personally, even the reactionary wingnut who represents Surry County and whose backward, bigoted ideas are as far from Andy Griffith's as you could possibly get. This year another intrepid progressive Democrat will take on Virginia Foxx, Eisabeth Motsinger, longtime community activist and six-year member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. She's as progressive and forward thinking as Foxx is reactionary and backward. I asked her to introduce herself to DWT readers and to tell us how a progressive can win in a red-leaning district like NC-5. She sent me a few lines by renowned American writer and pacifist William Stafford, the Library of Congress' 20th Poet Laureate:

It is time for all the heroes to go home
if they have any, time for all of us common ones
to locate ourselves by the real things
we live by.

-William Stafford

And then her guest post:

I am running this year to represent the people of North Carolina’s 5th District in the United States Congress because our country desperately needs “common” people who will represent the interests of ordinary citizens. The above poem reminds us that as progressives we will succeed not by insisting on new heroes, but because we understand that the change we ALL want will come only when we join hearts and hands and make it happen. The world we want has room for everyone, and the “real things” we live by are a livable world, a just economy, healthcare for all citizens and a commitment to the future we will never see, but that we will leave to posterity.

Good candidates have previously run for this seat. I know and applaud them all. I worked on their campaigns. Winning this seat depends on several factors entirely out of our control: the mood of the country going into election day; the events that unfold over the next 4 months; the effect of Super-PAC money on voters. That does not mean we can’t make a difference! My campaign is making a clear moral argument for progressive policies. We are willing to talk to ALL Americans in every venue. We will make thousands of phone calls. We will engage with the many college students in the 5th District. And we will be explicitly connecting dots everywhere we go.

I currently serve on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education, a position I have held for six years. I have been elected and re-elected as a progressive in a fairly conservative county. I was initially elected in 2006, for a seat not held by a Democrat for 16 years. I was re-elected in 2010, a tough year for Democrats. I have worked well with other board members while staying true to my progressive values. I initially ran for office after years of being an activist because I believe that change in policy requires sitting at the table where decisions are being made. There is much that can be accomplished only from inside the system.

Change is essential. Without changing the status quo we will not survive as a country or as a species.

What has changed in the 5th District that leads me to believe I can win? Ms. Foxx has never had a female opponent or one from the biggest county in the district (43% of voters). Redistricting has made the district a bit more competitive. The district now includes more of Winston-Salem (where I am known and trusted), several more colleges and universities, and the urban core of three small cities. My husband grew up in a rural part of the district, where his family is well-known and well-loved. We own land there and his brother continues to grow Christmas trees. I am a Physician Assistant and have a lot of support in the medical community. I am an environmentalist and was arrested in Washington while protesting the Keystone pipeline Tar Sands.

If you'd like to hear more about Elizabeth's campaign, you can visit her website or her Facebook page and if you'd like to contribute to her campaign, you can do so at our own special page dedicated to replacing Congress' most virulent and toxic homophobes.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home