When the North Carolina Audubon Society announced its campaign to install 10,000 small-holed bird boxes to bolster the population of brown-headed nuthatches, Russ Regnery was intrigued. But, like many environmental issues coming down from Raleigh, the plight of the little songbird had little relevance in the mountains. The birds just don’t live much above 2,000 feet.
“We kind of felt left out because we didn’t have the bird,” said Regnery, president of the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society. “Then we started thinking, ‘Well shucks, the same principal may apply to other small cavity-nesting birds as well.”
Dean Hicks is still a coach at heart.
“I’m an old coach, I don’t want to be average,” Hicks said. “No coach could settle for average, and I don’t think North Carolina should either.”
Election season is winding down to the finish line and both candidates in the N.C. House’s 119th District race are eyeing Raleigh. Challenger Mike Clampitt and incumbent Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, have been here before. They went up against each other in 2012 and both are back for more.
The campaign season — even these last frenzied weeks — suit Queen just fine. He loves the ballgames, homecomings and festivals.
Tax reform was one of the top issues tackled by the new Republican majority in Raleigh last year, but voters hitting the polls this election season don’t yet know whether they’ve come out ahead or behind, since the changes don’t come into play until next April’s tax returns.
North Carolina has rarely seen an election where the candidates matter so little, but who wins matters so much.
This year it’s not about the names on the ballot. Those are mere window dressing. Their alma matter, their church, their IQ, their gender, their profession, their hometown — things voters might have cared about in the past — have fallen by the wayside, too. Even the last-minute, slick campaign ads will likely be futile in budging voters to their side of the fence.
Jamie Kemper knew it’d happen. She just didn’t think it’d happen this quickly.
“We thought it’d be a few years,” Kemper said.
By Jim Hunt • Guest Columnist
Earlier this year, I called for a state commitment to raise teacher pay to the national average in the next four years. It was a bold proposal, but that’s what leaders do. Since that time, teachers got a raise, but what they didn’t get was a commitment. State lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board if they are going to show teachers that they are valued.
N.C. Rep. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, and Republican challenger Mike Clampitt are on a similar mission. Each is trying to assure voters they are nothing like the other guy.
Recently, the two candidates seeking the 119th District House seat faced off for a debate in Cullowhee hosted by Western Carolina University. The pair discussed education, healthcare and fracking. They got into immigration reform and term limits and more. And they disagreed at every turn.
Dr. Richard Thompson is breathing a bit easier this semester. He’s not worrying about funding. Not wondering if the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching will slip into the abyss.