Category Archives: Politics & Government

Philip Price for Congress in NC 11th

Western North Carolinians deserve a working person to represent them in Washington

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LENOIR, N.C. — If you want a working class person who understands working class issues representing you in Washington, D.C., The Lenoir Voice (the sister publication of the Appalachian Chronicle) recommends that Democrats and Unaffiliated voters in the 11th Congressional District (Western North Carolina) vote for Philip Price for the U.S. Congress during the Democratic primary, which has begun with early voting.

His values are Appalachian values.

In doing so, you will be picking a small business owner who has worked his nails to the quick while the GOP incumbent, Mark Meadows (who considers the district a nice place to visit, but essentially makes Washington, D.C. his home), has spent his time accumulating power though the so-called Freedom Caucus rather than serve his constituents, as he was elected to do.

You can learn more about Price and the other Democratic candidates wishing to replace Meadows at a forum in Morganton tonight.

Price_LogoBlue-e1522788048390.jpg FTRThe Lenoir Voice endorses only those candidates who understand that most Western North Carolinians are primarily blue collar and do not want much, but we do wish to be paid a fair wage, have access to “Medicare-for-all” health insurance, and be able to support our families on just one job. We support candidates that understand that. Philip Price is the candidate that gets that.

Early voting has begun and runs through May 5. The Primary is May 8. There are two early voting locations in Caldwell County — the ground floor of the Alden E. Starnes Building on West Avenue in Lenoir and the Granite Falls Recreation Department.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2018

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While ICE Celebrates, Immigrants and Allies Grieve

CIMA calls for gathering to send message of disapproval

Matthew 25:31-46 – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” 

Zechariah 7:8-10 – Do not oppress the alien.

Editor’s note: This is published so close to the event because the news release was just received this morning.

FLAT ROCK, N.C. – Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA) is calling on residents of Western North Carolina to peacefully gather at an outdoor celebration today at 11 a.m. that is being hosted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at The Park at Flat Rock at 55 Highland Golf Drive.

CIMA poster

Credit: CIMA

According to a news release from CIMA, “The community plans to gather to express their deep disapproval of this celebration after a week of devastating detentions and deportations led by the federal agency. Since this past Saturday morning, ICE agents stormed Latinx communities across Western North Carolina, leaving people traumatized and an estimated 25 people taken into custody.”

The statement added, “We are appalled that anyone would celebrate this recent ICE raid and the hundreds of people left reeling from this week,” said local organizer, Jay. “They have taken our community members, devastated families, and caused hundreds of people to stay locked inside their houses for days on end out of fear. We are grieving and they are celebrating.

Bruno Hinojosa, CIMA Coordinator said, “This is such an insensitive and inhumane expression of celebration in the face of such deep community trauma. Witnessing this event is not meant to be a confrontation or direct action, but an opportunity to peacefully gather and demonstrate WNC’s collective pain and organized resistance. We will not confront or attack these people but merely show them there are real people on the other side of their actions. We do not find this horrific week worth celebrating.”

CIMA’s statement continued, “ICE agents have been detaining people driving through their neighborhoods; while visiting community health centers; and simply leaving for work in the morning. Organizers throughout the area have been working since the launch of this week’s ICE operation to ensure that people are aware of their rights; to connect families with legal representation; to provide support for their basic needs; and to quell reports and rumors of ICE activity. Still, the terror instilled by this latest wave of immigration detentions has left many families in hiding and classrooms full of empty seats.”

Sanctuary poster FTR

Credit: CIMA

Want to know more?

According to the statement, “CIMA connects, strengthens and organizes communities to take action for immigrants’ rights in Western North Carolina. CIMA strives for inclusive communities with justice, freedom, and equality for all.” Additional information about today’s event can be found here .

© Michael M. Barrick, 2018

Cheers to Our Right to Vote!

Don’t bitch; vote instead, then toast to your freedom

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LENOIR, N.C. — Early (One-stop) voting started today in North Carolina. When I voted at about 2 in the afternoon in Lenoir at one of our county’s two early voting locations, about 75 people had voted. Two hours later when I went back to check the count, is was only about 85. While I await official numbers from the local Board of Elections office, it was reported to me that only about two dozen people had voted at the other early voting location in Granite Falls, in the densely populated southern end of the county.

These numbers are pathetic!

I have heard every excuse from people — still, after 2016 — in the last weeks as why they are not going to vote in the primary. I have yet to hear a good excuse. It’s simply a cop out. A lack of followership. Yes, that’s my new word. Not only do we suffer from a horrendous lack of political leadership, we have a lack of followership. Far too many people are still apathetic about a human right few have enjoyed throughout history.

But they don’t mind bitching. Allow me a quick digression to address that.

Cheers to Dad

In the photo above where I am cheering my right to vote, I am also saluting my father, who would have been 92 today. He would have been the first in line to vote today. That’s only one of a million reasons I miss him. The other is what a friend had to say when I texted the photo to her: “He always told things as he saw them.”

So, true to his legacy, I have three words for the non-voters: Don’t bitch, vote! That’s what Dad would have said. So, cheers to him, and cheers to our right to vote!

© Michael M. Barrick, 2018. “We the People” photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

 

Three Democrats Contend for Key Appalachian Congressional Seat

Early Voting begins today in North Carolina; three candidates to meet April 23 in WNC city of Morganton 

MORGANTON, N.C. – The three Democrats running for the 11th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Mark Meadows will meet in a forum on Monday, April 23 at the Morganton Community House at 120 N. King St. from 6:30 – 8 p.m.

The candidates are Scott Donaldson, Philip Price and Steve Woodsmall. Woodsmall is a professor from Transylvania County, Price is a small business owner in McDowell County, and Donaldson is a surgeon in Henderson County.

NC 11 logoThe forum is co-sponsored by the Burke County Democratic Party and the Caldwell County Democratic Party.

The Primary Election is May 8. One stop (Early) voting begins today.

Want to know more? Call the Burke County Democratic Party at (828) 475-6198.

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Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

 

 

Art Sherwood Sees First Sign of Support

Singer-songwriter Andrew Massey plants first yard sign for State Senate candidate

By Michael M. Barrick

LENOIR, N.C. – My favorite part of being the campaign director for Art Sherwood is getting to talk with people. (Those who know me won’t be surprised by that confession). One of my favorite people to hang with is Andrew Massey of Lenoir. Andrew is a singer-songwriter, a very close friend (as is his whole family), and the general age of our adult children.

Andrew Massey

And, he’s kind to me. I’m tone deaf. Couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I gravitate to musicians like I’m a groupie. I love music. Want to learn everything I can. So Andrew tolerates me as he writes and records music in his home studio while we drink tea, talk about things I don’t understand about music, and enjoy his toddler son keeping us both on our toes.

Indeed, we often don’t talk politics. In that way, our conversations and time together is a good distraction from my work. But other times we do. He is a barometer for me. He lets me know what people his age think. He lets me know what musicians think. He lets me know what free thinkers think. And he is simply fun to be around.

And he is talented as he can be. He writes his own music for adults and children. He performs alone and with other, in particular with Sycamore Bones (and more here), which also includes Cory Kinal and Abigail Taylor.

Two years ago, he was an avid supporter of Art when he ran for the North Carolina State Senate in the old district that included Caldwell County. He lent his artistic talent in support of Art.

He’s doing it again in 2018, as Art seeks to represent the residents of Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties in the redrawn State Senate District 46 as the Democratic nominee. He has no primary.

Andrew’s most visible sign of that support was his decision to plant the first Art Sherwood campaign yard sign of the season in his front yard in downtown Lenoir. There’s a good reason for that. Art has been a vigorous supporter of the arts community his whole life and has embraced artisans and musician in the region.

The arts community is indispensable to all three counties. Not only does art play a vital role in speaking truth to power, but it also provides many jobs in the region. So, Andrew supports Art because Art is committed to ensure that the state of North Carolina provides proper funding to the arts.

Andrew and Art both represent the best of North Carolina values – independence, integrity and excellence. I hope you’ll join us and help send Art to Raleigh. Not only would the arts benefit. So would civility and common decency. And, if you’d like, call me and I’ll be happy to bring a yard sign to your house.

© Citizens for Art, 2018. “Art” Photo by Ian Williams on Unsplash

Privatization of the VA Would Make Mockery of its Mission

Party of Lincoln forgets that the VA was inspired by the 16th president

By Art Sherwood

LENOIR, N.C. – David Shulkin, who was fired by President Trump last week as head of the Veterans Administration (VA), told several national news outlets that he was fired because he stood in the way of efforts by Trump and the GOP to privatize the VA (read more at NPR and CBS).

While the VA was not established until 1930, it seems that the GOP has forgotten that the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, provided the foundational spirit of the VA as noted in the Mission Statement on the VA’s website: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan’ by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.”

While Trump’s removal of Shulkin is not surprising from the “You’re Fired!” president, privatization would be disastrous for the men and women served by the VA. Yet, it is consistent with the goals of the Republican Party. This is not a new agenda item. It’s been going on a long time. It is the “Starve the Beast” mentality. To ensure its failure, the GOP-led Congress intentionally underfunds the VA so performance is not where it should be. Then the agency and those running it – rather than Congress – are blamed for failures due to inadequate funding.

While the GOP may have forgotten Lincoln’s intentions, I have not. I worked with and for the VA for more than a decade. It was an honor to serve those who gave all for our country.

We have a sacred obligation to honor the mission of the VA and should not farm it out to profiteers who will put making money ahead of caring for our veterans. There are nearly one million veterans in North Carolina, making up over nine percent of our population. They deserve better than having their treatment transferred to a private provider looking to cut corners to increase profits.

The VA system is clearly better equipped and more knowledgeable about the needs and care of veterans than private providers scattered across the nation that have little or no experience dealing with the specialized care veterans need – and deserve. My experience in the largest VA hospital in the system in Houston showed me that the variety of comprehensive services that veterans get through the system could in no way be provided by private providers. The VA provides mental care and physical, comprehensive treatment of complex injuries such as those to the spinal cord. The VA’s knowledge and treatment of these injuries is among the best in the world.

To ensure its failure, the GOP-led Congress intentionally underfunds the VA so performance is not where it should be. Then the agency and those running it – rather than Congress – are blamed for failures due to inadequate funding.

Is the VA perfect? Of course not. But it does provide quality care. When the VA has appropriate stable leadership at the top that is committed to the mission of the VA, it succeeds. The employees are loyal civil servants who will follow leadership dedicated to the mission of the VA as articulated by President Lincoln following the Civil War. My personal experience is that when civil servants are given a fair chance to compete against the private sector, they win. They provide better, more efficient care. Still, we must remain vigilant. We should fix any problems that occur. It’s a large system, so of course it has potential for problems.

Additionally, let us not forget that the VA’s case load has increased dramatically in the last few decades because of the wars we are fighting around the world. It is now commonly agreed that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was precipitated on lies. We would have far less veterans to care for if we quit fighting unnecessary wars.

Also, the military deserves credit for improving its trauma care in battle zones. There are many more soldiers coming home alive than in previous wars. In addition, many veterans return home with the invisible wound of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This puts additional stress on already underfunded social and mental health services for our veterans. The VA is uniquely qualified to provide the required care – again, assuming it is properly funded.

Only the VA can provide the specialized, seamless care that these veterans deserve. In the rare cases where a veteran may live far away from the nearest VA hospital, a referral to a local provider might be necessary, but those are rare instances.

It is noteworthy, that as I talk to veterans in Caldwell County, that they’ve told me of the excellent care they have received at VA hospitals in the area, whether in Asheville, Salisbury or over the mountain in Tennessee. Their testimonies are encouraging. (There are also VA hospitals in Durham and Fayetteville, as well as Outpatient Clinics scattered across the state).

So, as a North Carolina State Senator, I will vigorously defend the VA and work closely with our congressional delegation to protect it and challenge them to properly fund the system. I will also challenge the GOP to quit the saber-rattling than can lead to only more young Americans dying and being maimed on foreign soil.

It is clear, that when it comes to waging wars and caring for those who do the actual fighting, the GOP’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

We can do better. I will do better, given the opportunity. So, I would appreciate your vote in November. There are nearly a million veterans in North Carolina counting on the VA. Let’s not let them down.

© Citizens for Art, 2018. American flags photo by Cal Engel and dog tags photo by Holly Mindrup on Unsplash

Note: Art Sherwood is the Democratic candidate for North Carolina Senate District 46, which includes 3 Appalachian counties – Avery, Burke and Caldwell.  I am serving as Campaign / Communications Director for him. Impartiality is no longer an option for me. While it’s not news, 2016 reminded us that elections matter. How we care for the poor and vulnerable, how we protect the sacred earth which sustains us, how we protect human rights, how we care for the alien among us, how we defend voting rights, and how we treat each other in the body politic and the “public square” of social media, requires that I choose a side. – MB

 

March For Our Lives is the Tipping Point on Gun Violence

Our youth have put the gun lobby on its heels

LENOIR, N.C. – Saturday’s March For Our Lives in Lenoir – and beyond – was inspiring to the point of tears. And I wasn’t even there.

March For Our Lives Lenoir NC

People gather in Lenoir, N.C. for the March For Our Lives on March 24, 2018

I was bummed about that, but I had a good reason – I was with Art Sherwood in Morganton at the Burke County Democratic Party County Convention. Art is running for the North Carolina State Senate and I’m honored to guide his campaign.

So, while I would have been thrilled to join our county’s youth yesterday, I know the best thing I can do to help them achieve their objective of putting an end to mass murder in our public schools (and elsewhere) is work to elect the type of people who will pass legislation banning assault weapons, putting much greater restrictions on gun shows and other measures. Art is such a man.

Still, it is not lost on me who the true leaders in our nation are now. Most of them look to be under 19-years-old. They have done something that no politician has had the courage to do. They have declared war on the gun lobby and put it on the defensive.

Their movement must become our movement. The pictures, the speeches and the raw number of people at the March For Our Lives events on Saturday should move us all to action.

We must heed their pleas.

Schools were not designed with urban combat in mind; they were designed for teaching and learning.

I know they are right. I have the experience to make that claim.

I am a retired classroom teacher who also holds a post-graduate certificate in Community Preparedness and Disaster Management from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. I have written, led and participated in more than one Active Shooter Exercise (for schools and hospitals). There is one thing I can tell you for certain: Our children are vulnerable as hell.

The open classroom design that some schools have make children sitting ducks. There is no place to shelter-in-place. Even schools with traditional classrooms, no matter how well secured, are easy targets for a determined individual.

Schools were not designed with urban combat in mind; they were designed for teaching and learning.

The students know this. Therefore, they are in the streets. They know that school systems cannot – and should not – be expected to provide them the level of safety required. Those in the public schools, after all, are trained to teach children. They are not trained in urban warfare.

In short, the shootings can’t really be mitigated on the school end. Yes, having a police officer on campus is common now, and as we’ve seen recently, a potentially effective way to reduce the number of deaths.

But it isn’t enough. We must eliminate them.

March for our Lives ftr

We must address the root cause before it enters the schoolhouse doorway. That’s what the students are demanding. They just want what all of us want – to live as long as possible, and certainly not to be cut down in their youth.

While they’ve got the gun lobby on its heels, let’s join them and help finish the job. It is time for a reckoning. The gun lobby has blood on its hands and it knows it. Unlike Pontius Pilate though, they cannot wash their hands clean.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2018

Sherwood Launches Website, Issues Position Papers

Takes stands on Public Education, Healthcare and Employment

Art Sherwood primary

Art Sherwood

LENOIR, N.C.  – Art Sherwood, the Democratic candidate for the N.C. State Senate in Avery, Burke and Caldwell Counties today launched his website and issued position papers. “The people of Western North Carolina are industrious and caring. They want what is best for their families. That means we must address the challenges facing public education, we must provide universal, single-payer healthcare, and we must focus on 21st Century strategies for providing local and full employment.”

The website can be accessed here.

Position papers include:

On Public Education

On Healthcare

On Employment

Sherwood commented, “That we continue to have to deal with these issues demonstrates clearly that we lack leadership in Raleigh. That is why providing leadership that is principled and reasonable is my primary focus. By doing that, I can help be part of the solution. Indeed, these position papers provide detailed insight into exactly how I plan to deal with these issues. I hope folks will take a few minutes to read them. This is the year we must turn the tide of incivility, negativity and inaction.”

 

 

N.C. State Senate Candidate Calls for Ban on Assault Weapons

Art Sherwood says sacrificing school children to protect weapons of war is outrageous; also slams gun lobby and idea of arming teachers

LENOIR, N.C. – Art Sherwood, the Democratic candidate for North Carolina State Senate District 46, today expressed outrage that school children are being murdered at astounding rates while the gun lobby and their Republican allies continue to insist on allowing civilians access to weapons of war.

Art Sherwood primary

Dr. Art Sherwood

Sherwood said, “While I commend school systems, law enforcement, mental health experts and social workers for working together to protect our children, the truth is – as evidenced by the relentless, ongoing school shootings – that these efforts are not enough.”

Sherwood continued, “Students across the nation have been demanding more action to protect them from mass murder. To turn a deaf ear to them, to continue to ignore the abhorrent and uncivilized killings made all too easy by lax gun laws is to abdicate our moral responsibility to ensure that, first and foremost, our schools are safe.”

Sherwood noted, “One of the primary reasons I decided to run for the state senate was to protect North Carolina’s public schools. First, however, we must sadly start with this most distressing matter of protecting the lives of our students and public school personnel from mass murder!”

In response to the epidemic of school and other domestic terrorist assaults such as those in Florida and Nevada, Sherwood said, “I support a ban on assault rifles and placing strict limits on gun shows. I also encourage schools and school systems to establish Human Relations Councils that include students that are empowered to address bullying, bigotry and other root causes of violence. Educational, mental health, law enforcement and other professionals can also work closely together to mitigate threats. Relying upon Active Shooter exercises – while appropriate preparedness – still signals that we are not tackling the essential questions. For instance, are we really trying to figure out what is making our young people so violent?”

… we must ask of ourselves why are so many people willing to accept the growing body count of children and adults. When are we going to ask the fundamental question that the gun lobby doesn’t want to hear – How many children must die before military weapons are taken out of the hands of civilians? – Art Sherwood

He continued, “Even more importantly, we must ask of ourselves why are so many people willing to accept the growing body count of children and adults. When are we going to ask the fundamental question that the gun lobby doesn’t want to hear – How many children must die before military weapons are taken out of the hands of civilians?

Sherwood also addressed the suggestion that teachers be armed, an idea advocated recently by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. DeVos said “There is a sense of urgency needed.” Sherwood countered, “Urgency is needed; it has been since at least Columbine! However, what is urgent is what the Republicans and gun lobby opposes – reasonable restrictions on guns. Arming teachers is reactionary. Teachers are not trained how to use firearms. They should be provided with safe schools so that they can do what they are trained to do – teach our children.”

He concluded, “Every time I see, hear or read of another school shooting, I have to ask, ‘How could anyone think owning an assault rifle is more important than a single child’s life?’”

Senate District 46 includes Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties.

To contact the campaign, call or email:

Michael Barrick, Campaign / Communications Director*

Citizens for Art

828-200-4565

michaelbarrick56@gmail.com

DISCLOSURE: Barrick is also owner of this publication.

Dr. Art Sherwood Announces N.C. Senate Campaign

Researcher, educator says campaign will focus on working class issues such as education and healthcare

LENOIR, N.C. – Today, researcher and educator Dr. Art Sherwood announced his candidacy to represent District 46 of the North Carolina Senate. Sherwood is a Democrat.

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Art Sherwood files to run for North Carolina Senate District 46 in Lenoir on Feb. 28, 2018. He will run unopposed in the Democratic Primary for the newly created Senate District, which includes Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties in Western North Carolina.

“I am honored to announce that I am running to represent district 46 in the North Carolina Senate,” Dr. Sherwood said. “My wife Gwen and I have two children and seven grandchildren, and it is out of deep concern for the world we are leaving behind for the next generation that I have decided to run for office.”

“I am convinced that we can do a better job preparing our children for a changing future that demands lifelong learning.” Sherwood continued. “Restoring North Carolina’s reputation for excellence in education is vital to ensuring the success of future generations, our workforce, and our economy. We must support education in our state by paying our teachers the salaries they deserve and giving our schools the funding they need.

“Education is the key that unlocks the American dream.”

Quality, affordable healthcare is a basic human right, not a privilege. We must transform our inefficient health care industry into a system rooted in compassion. No one should have to make the choice between life-changing treatments and buying food for their families.”

Having worked closely with those impacted by spinal cord injuries and disabilities, Sherwood also has a deep understanding of the importance of expanding affordable health care.

“We must expand Medicaid to our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” Dr. Sherwood insisted.  He asserted, “Quality, affordable healthcare is a basic human right, not a privilege. We must transform our inefficient health care industry into a system rooted in compassion. No one should have to make the choice between life-changing treatments and buying food for their families.”

He concluded, “It’s time to break the GOP stranglehold on the General Assembly and bring reason back to Raleigh.”

Senate District 46 is a newly constituted district and includes Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties. Previously, Caldwell County was in Senate District 45.

BACKGROUND

Dr. Art Sherwood is a man of faith and science. His family has deep roots in the mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina and in the church, as both his great-grandfather and grandfather served as preachers, along with his uncle, brother-in-law and cousin. Sherwood received the Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Following completion of his doctorate in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 1970, Sherwood joined the faculty at Texas A&M University, where he helped establish the Bioengineering Program. He moved to the Texas Medical Center in 1975 to develop the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR). He became Director of Research for the Restorative Neurology Program at Baylor College of Medicine upon its founding in 1987. In 1997, he became Director of the Center of Excellence on Healthy Aging with Disabilities at the Michael E DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston where he developed a set of laboratories for quantitative studies of motor function, and carried out a series of studies in veterans after spinal cord injury, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.  Prior to his retirement in 2011, Sherwood played a significant role in guiding the disability research agenda on a national level in his role as Science and Technology Advisor to the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research in Washington, DC. Sherwood and his wife Gwen live in Caldwell County in the valley where they put down roots almost a half-century ago.

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