Tags:Terry Bellamy, Statehouse Rep. Patsy Keever and writer/musician Timothy Murphy are all hoping to be the Democrat that takes on Republican incumbent – and likely nominee – Rep. Patrick McHenry in the fall.
Bellamy said she would be the party's best nominee because of her leadership as a mayor and nonprofit director. On the economic front, she touted her role in bringing the auto-parts manufacturer, Linamar, to Skyland, creating at least 400 new jobs.
"When Linamar decided to come to Asheville, I was at the table. … I had the opportunity to sit down with the company president and CEO to talk to them about Asheville and why they should move to Asheville," she said. "I made sure I helped seal that deal."
Bellamy also said people in the new district, which stretches all the way southeast to Gaston County, are more familiar with her than some Asheville residents might realize. She's worked on downtown revitalization and affordable housing projects with officials in Gastonia, Cleveland County and Hickory, she said. And Bellamy has family ties to Polk County and Rutherford County, she noted: "So I'm going back home to get my family to support me."
Alluding to the controversy that erupted two years ago after Bellamy voted against offering same-sex partner benefits to city employees, she said: "Enough has been said about me over the last two years that's not me. I'm ready for Terry Michelle Bellamy to define Terry Michelle Bellamy and not someone else." She added: "I need your support. I'm fired up. … You will see over the next few months how hard I'm willing to work for the 10th Congressional District."
Murphy started his address by admitting that he's largely unknown in Buncombe County.
"This is the first time you've seen my face, due to the gerrymandering by the N.C. legislature," he said. "But I'm very excited to have you all in my district. For the first time in 44 years, the 10th District is competitive."
However, although the redrawn district has more Democrats in it than before, analysis shows it is likely to still favor a Republican. But Murphy seemed unconcerned about appealing to conservative voters. He called himself a proud liberal and said his top goal in Congress would be to permanently end the Bush tax cuts. The wealthiest Americans should be taxed at a higher rate to help cut the deficit and fund social welfare programs, he said.
"I think liberal values are the values that are the bedrock of American exceptionalism. I believe in the social safety net," he explained. "We will not accept cutting social benefit programs that people worked their whole lives to pay in to, in order to fund tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans."
Photos by Max Cooper
Murphy lives in Rutherfordton and has worked as a teacher, restaurant owner, writer and musician. This is his first run for public office.
Meanwhile, Keever wasn't able to attend the forum, because of state business in Raleigh. But in a statement to the group that was read by her husband, Keever said her top goals as a member of Congress would be improving education, the economy, the environment and equality.
"A well-educated population is the backbone of democracy and the key to our economic future," she maintained. "We need an economy that works for everyone – that provides not just jobs, but meaningful work at a living wage."
A former Buncombe County commissioner and public school teacher, Keever wrote: "I know that some have questioned my sanity to enter this race for Congress, but I felt that after teaching eighth grade for over 20 years, I can take the adolescent behavior in Congress," garnering laughs from the crowd.
The Democratic Primary will take place May 8.
For more on this event, listen to Xpress reporter Jake Frankel's segment on WWNC radio's Morning Report, airing a various times between 6 and 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 17.
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