A Great Day for Democrats in North Carolina – 2018 Election Results

Democrats Broke Supermajorities in the North Carolina General Assembly and Won Statewide Judicial Elections

Yesterday, voters from across our state came together to elect dynamic new leadership to the NC General Assembly that will break the Republican supermajorities in both the State House and the State Senate. Based upon vote totals at this time, 6 new members were elected to the State Senate, and 8 new members have been elected to the State House.

The new members of the Senate will be Natasha Marcus, who defeated Jeff Tarte by 11,680 votes, Sam Searcy, who defeated Tamara Barringer by 3,798 votes, Michael Garret, who defeated Trudy Wade by 763 votes, Harper Peterson, who defeated Michael Lee by 36 votes, Kirk DeViere, who defeated Wesley Meredith by 306 votes, and of course Wiley Nickel was elected to a new seat in Wake County. These vote totals are preliminary since provisional ballots as well as absentee ballots will still need to be counted and it could potentially change the outcome in some of these close races. It really speaks to why when we say that every vote counts — we mean it.

In the State House, the victories went to Sydney Batch, Terence Everitt, Brandon Lofton, Ray Russel, Christy Clarke, Joe Sam Queen, and Julie von Haefen. The race of Rachel Hunt remains too close to call since she is only 52 votes down at this time. I’d like to congratulate all of the statewide candidates for judgeships who won, and, in particular, I would like to congratulate the newest member of our State Supreme Court, Anita Earls. Those winning seats on the Court of Appeals were John Arrowood, Toby Hampson, and Allegra Collins.

Unfortunately, four of the proposed constitutional amendments were approved by voters including the one which will require voter I.D.’s in the future. Voters soundly defeated the amendments that would change the way judges are appointed in our state as well as the one which would have changed the makeup of our State Board of Elections and Ethics.

I spent yesterday visiting many of Durham’s voting precincts, and, as the evening went on, I was up until 2:00 am watching vote totals come in in contested General Assembly races and celebrating with those who won statewide judgeships. It was a great and exciting day for NC, and particularly for the Democrats who offered themselves for the consideration of voters.

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Durham Lions Club Election Day Pancake Jamboree

Today, in addition to visiting voting precincts all across Durham, I also served as a Celebrity Chef for the Annual Pancake Jamboree sponsored by the Durham Lions Club which is held at the Durham Armory in Downtown Durham. I always enjoy visiting my many friends that are part of the Lions Club, but more importantly, supporting this wonderful fundraiser to support charitable work. In addition, it provides supporters with freshly cooked pancakes and sausage as a tasty treat.

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A Special Thanks to All Those Who Work the Polls on Election Day

I always enjoy getting out to greet voters on Election Day, but more importantly, thanking the many people who work at precincts all across our state to help oversee our elections. I always thank those who are Democrat as well as Republican since they all start their day before 6:00 am, and they seldom leave until after 9:00 pm the day of an election. Our elections could not be held without the selfless dedication of these precinct officials. Thank you all for your service to our state and to our community. Unfortunately, I could not take their photographs inside of a voting precinct, therefore, this post only shows photos of some of those who I greeted at the polls.

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Discussing US Politics and Elections with Visiting Group from Australia

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group of visitors from Australia. This impressive group was composed of persons who work with the Australian Government or political groups affiliated with the government. They were spending time here in NC to obtain a better understanding of our overall political climate and the issues facing our state as we approach the upcoming General Election. I was able to provide this group with an overview of how our General Assembly is elected and how we function and operate on a day-to-day basis. I also provided them with an overview of the changes that have occurred in NC over the past decade and of the critical issues facing our state at this time. They asked very thoughtful and intriguing questions which provided them with an opportunity to learn and contrast how we operate here in NC as opposed to how they operate in Australia. I enjoyed meeting this group and I hope that they will stay in touch in the years to come.

This group was part of a program which is sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and they were a part of the International Visitor Leadership Program. This group included Ms. Claire Angela Bradley, Ms. Julia Elizabeth Dixon, Ms. Carina Mary Lindsay Garland, Ms. Emeline Melissa Gaske, Mr. Jeffrey Alexander McCormack, Mr. Richard Roy Kilpatrick Newton, Mr. Jonathan Persley, Mr. Bryce Maurice Roney, Mr. Brodie Thompson, and Ms. Malwina Wyra. I’d like to thank Mr. Sam Lasris who invited me to meet with this group and who assisted with their visit in NC.


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Duke Environmental Law and Policy Forum

Today, I had the pleasure of participating as a guest at the Environmental Law & Policy Forum’s Annual Symposium at the Duke University School of Law. The panel which I was a part of addressed the issues of what roles buildings, landscape design and urban infrastructure play in sustainable urban development; as well as if law and policy tools can help build urban environments that are both efficient and equitable. The other guests that were a part of this panel were Kofi Boone, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, North Carolina State University, Dr. Timothy Johnson, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Dr. Danielle Spurlock, Department of City & Regional Planning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

During my remarks, I spoke of the work which I had led in establishing a Legislative Study Commission on Urban Growth and Infrastructure. I established and was a Co-Chair of this legislative study commission which led to legislation that created the NC Sustainable Communities Task Force. This task force brought together planning directors from Winston Salem, Charlotte, Raleigh, as well as members of the Councils of Government and State Department Heads from our State’s Commerce Department, Environment and Natural Resources Department, Transportation Department, Health and Human Services Department, as well we the NC House and Finance Agency, among others. We provided over $500,000 to support sustainable development and planning for local governments, and we were successful in attracting $3.2 million dollars in federal funds for this purpose. It was a great project for which NC received high recognition, and I actually received several awards for my leadership with these initiatives. Unfortunately, the Republican majority repealed the legislation which created this project after it had been in operation for only a two-year period of time.

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President Trump Seeks to End Birthright Citizenships Despite the 14th Amendment

President Trump Seeks to End Birthright Citizenships and Has Once Again Announced that He is a Nationalist without Clarification

Today, President Donald Trump announced his intent to execute an Executive Order that would eliminate birthright citizenship. Pursuant to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, those persons born in the United States become citizens upon their birth in this country. This means that even if one’s parents were not citizens of this country, that an infant would still be an American citizen if the child was born in the United States. President Trump is of the opinion that notwithstanding language in the US Constitution to this effect, that he has the power through the execution of an Executive Order to end birthright citizenship to infants whose parents are not citizens of our country. President Trump is essentially launching an attack against innocent children. This new policy follows the policy embarked upon last spring to separate children from their parents when they enter the United States seeking asylum. I don’t know when and if it will ever end.

Just yesterday, President Trump, in an interview on Fox News, announced once again that he was a Nationalist, and when provided an opportunity to clarify his remarks, he refused to do so even though he knows that there are White Nationalist racist organizations that identify with him and support him. He should repudiate their support and everything that they stand for, and use his best efforts to distance himself philosophically from these fringe groups. The reason he does not do so speaks for itself.

A Fun Day at Barktoberfest 2018 at Durham Central Park

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of joining hundreds of pets and their owners who came together for the annual Barktoberfest in Durham’s Central Park. I always love this event since it gives me an opportunity to see children, pets, as well as their owners all dressed up in their Halloween costumes which can be quite original, entertaining, and amusing. I had the pleasure of serving as one of the judges who helped award prizes in one of three categories: best at pet tricks, best pet costume, as well as the owners and pets who, together, had the best Halloween costumes. I could really see how much the children, as well as adults, enjoyed this event. There are so many participants with original costumes that the judging can be quite difficult, however, everyone seemed to have fun even if they didn’t walk away as a winner.
I’d like to thank a group known as Beyond Fences which has served as a lead sponsor for this event, as well as the City of Durham and Durham’s Parks and Recreation Department. If you missed the event this year, please mark your calendar for next year, and start planning your costumes today.

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Mass Shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, When Will Enough Be Enough?

This morning, I was shocked and stunned once again by the tragic killing of what is now 11 people by a gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Far too often, in recent years, we have heard about gunman entering churches and killing innocent people as they worshiped. I can recall being on the phone with my friend, NC Senator Malcom Graham, when he learned that his sister was one of the victims of the tragic killing of parishioners of a Black Church in Charleston, South Carolina. These types of senseless, random acts of violence are occurring far too frequently. Today, I heard that the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization, had recorded a 57% increase this past year in acts of violence against Jews in our country. Apparently, the gunman, on this occasion, was apprehended by police officers who understood their duty to protect and serve, and four of them were unfortunately wounded. The gunman, once again, had an assault rifle as well as three sidearms.

We must, as a nation, have the political will to control and limit access to firearms and ammunition. Our leaders in Washington must also stop using divisive rhetoric that causes political extremists to feel comfortable spewing their hatred and engaging in violent acts against others. Unfortunately, our president, when questioned about this incident, felt that the answer to what occurred would’ve been best addressed by having security at the synagogue. We should not have to fortify our churches and synagogues to be safe. Instead, changing laws related to access to firearms, particularly assault weapons, is critical and necessary, as well as eliminating divisive political rhetoric.

Discovering the Middle Kingdom, a Chinese Arts Exhibition in NC

Today it was my pleasure to join many friends from the Chinese-American community at an event held in connection with the 33rd Annual International Festival at the Raleigh Convention Center. The occasion for this event was the opening of an exhibit featuring centuries old artistry from China which was truly impressive. The exhibit, known as “Discovering the Middle Kingdom,” will be on display through Sunday, October 28th in Room 206 of the Exhibit Hall which you can visit before descending to the floor of the Convention Center where the International Festival is held. I would like to thank Mr. John Wei, Mr. Tony Lin, Mr. Weidong Shi, Congressman David Price, NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh City Councilman Corey Branch, and the Assistant Secretary of Cultural Resources, Staci Meyer for participating in this wonderful event which promotes cultural understanding and mutual respect through artistry.

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Durham Officials: Unanimous Opposition to the Proposed Constitutional Amendments

I have seldom felt as proud as I did earlier today when it was announced that every elected official in Durham County had come together to voice their unanimous opposition to the six proposed constitutional amendments that are on the ballot for voter consideration. This includes Mayor Schewel, the Durham City Council, all County Commissioners, all School Board members, as well as all Soil and Water District Commissioners. I and Rep. Marcia Morey joined many of these elected officials today when they held a press conference to voice their opposition to these constitutional amendments which are unneeded, unnecessary, and rather than increasing the rights of our citizens, for the most part, they will erode the rights of many of us. I’d like to thank my friends and colleagues for standing up firmly and aggressively to voice their opposition to these amendments. I don’t think there is another county in the State of NC, though I certainly hope there is one, where all the political leadership has shown this type of enlightened political courage.

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