One thing important to voters everywhere is knowing what their party stands for.

On Saturday March 3rd, a group of local candidates and party leadership met at the Lenoir library to discuss and edit our platform. Present were Michael Careccia and Tom Blanton, candidates for County Commission; Amanda Bregel, who is running for North Carolina House District 87; Barbara Kirby, Bregel’s campaign Manager; Michael Barrick, campaign manager for Art Sherwood (candidate for North Carolina Senate District 46); Nicole Schwenkbeck, 2nd Vice Chair; and Paul Custer, Chair. Topics discussed included jobs, education and healthcare in Caldwell County, as well as the overall principles of the local party.

In laying out an opening section on principles, the group decided to focus on the economic and environmental futures of our county. It was noted that our community has an obligation to care for its most vulnerable members. It was also noted that clean water and air are a sacred public trust. “You don’t have public health if you don’t have a clean environment,” said Barrick.

Statements concerning both the economy and the environment were amended to the platform document. A reference to Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech—a good reminder for what Democrats stand for—was then added to close out this principles section.

Jobs were prioritized in the county platform because they are one of the most important issues to Caldwell County voters. Many of the candidates advocated for encouraging local entrepreneurship and thereby growing, rather than importing, businesses and jobs. It was discussed that the greatest incentives should be given to companies who intend to invest in long-term relationships with workers in this county.

“If we’re going to be using taxpayer dollars to bring jobs into the county, those jobs must be full-time, living wage jobs,” said Custer.

An emphasis was also put on education, which many local voters rank as another of their top concerns. Currently there is only one North Carolina teacher serving as a representative in the General Assembly, and the CCDP is highlighting the need for educators to have a greater voice in this legislative body. Bregel, a tenth-grade teacher at the Caldwell Early College High School, is acting on this need with her campaign. Among the education-related issues taken up during the platform meeting were the importance of funding summer programs and early childhood care, as well as the downsides of testing.

Regarding healthcare, the CCDP is ready to tackle our local opioid crisis and knows it must do so in creative ways. The group discussed the difficulty in distinguishing between those who abuse prescription painkillers and those who need these medications. “It’s important to not blame the victims,” Barrick emphasized.

Another priority of the CCDP is to make sure our county is not in the midst of a healthcare desert (i.e. to make sure that nearby healthcare is readily available to our citizens). It was also pointed out that many of the healthcare challenges faced by Caldwellians are expensive and that a significant number among us cannot afford to pay for necessary procedures and treatments without Medicare for all.

Collectively, these issues sum up and proclaim what the CCDP is standing for in 2018, our Year of Action.

The CCDP county platform will be further deliberated and voted on at the upcoming County Convention, which is Saturday, March 24th from 10AM-noon at the Alden E. Starnes Building in downtown Lenoir.

CCDP invites and encourages all Democrats to join us for our convention and to weigh in on these principles and positions. Our candidates and volunteers are motivated and enthusiastic, and we are determined to bring change and improvements to Caldwell County.