Republican Chuck Edwards does not appear in the Xpress Voter Guide this year, but not from lack of effort. A reporter reached out multiple times by phone and email to the candidate, his personal assistant, his campaign and the state Republican party. None acknowledged receiving any message.
That squares with Edwards’ general approach to the media since defeating incumbent Madison Cawthorn in the May primary. The candidate has not responded to interview requests for Xpress stories in that time frame, and he has declined all but one public debate, choosing to appear only at an Oct. 10 WLOS event. The only statements Xpress has gotten from Edwards have come from approaching him in person at a Hendersonville GOP panel.
His opponents, Democrat Jasmine Beach-Ferrara and Libertarian David Coatney, have been more forthcoming. Both submitted responses to Xpress, and both participated in an Aug. 31 forum hosted by Blue Ridge Public Radio and Smoky Mountain News. (Beach-Ferrara also took part in the WLOS debate; Coatney was not invited.)
Edwards may feel comparatively less pressure to reach voters given the demographics of the district he hopes to represent. Political analysis outlet FiveThirtyEight estimates that NC-11 favors a generic Republican candidate by 14 percentage points.
Occupation: Buncombe County commissioner, executive director for the Campaign for Southern Equality
Previous candidacy or offices held: Buncombe County Board of Commissioners (twice elected)
Key endorsements: North Carolina AFL-CIO and Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, former state Rep. Ray Rapp, Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller, former state Sen. Terry Van Duyn
Amount of money raised: $2,075,000
Top three donors: Terry Van Duyn, Matthew Girard, Joseph Spatarella
With inflation at high levels and many experts expecting a recession in the next year, what federal policies do you support to help Western North Carolina stay on sound economic footing? As I travel across the district and listen to the people of Western North Carolina, one thing is clear: Working families are struggling. Our representative must prioritize delivering the relief that our communities need. I support reinstating the Child Tax Credit and will continue to support policies like the Inflation Reduction Act just signed into law, as well as the historic investments in infrastructure that will return our supply chain into the hands of American workers.
What specific federal funding do you intend to pursue on behalf of WNC projects? The first bill I will introduce in Congress will focus on providing funding so that WNC and regions like ours have the resources to train, hire and retain pre-K teachers so that a child’s ZIP code does not dictate their opportunity to thrive. I will work to secure investments in high-speed rural broadband, ensure that folks can get needed health care in the community they live in and address an addiction crisis that has impacted so many families across WNC.
In a U.S. House sharply divided along party lines, are there specific policy areas where you anticipate working together with the opposing party? As a county commissioner, I have led bipartisan efforts to expand pre-K, fight the opioid epidemic, address climate change by increasing conservation funding and creating green jobs, and support families and small businesses during these difficult times. My experience as a minister and elected official is rooted in building diverse tables to create solutions, and I will continue to work with people of every political affiliation to move forward together, both here in WNC and in Congress.
What concerns do you have about the state of American democracy, and how do you propose to address them? Our democracy is under attack by extremists like Mark Meadows, Madison Cawthorn and my opponent Chuck Edwards, who support government intrusion into the most private aspects of our lives while stripping away basic freedoms and eroding democratic institutions. My vision is different — focused on building a table where everyone is welcome, where we can find common ground and move forward together. The choice in this election is about which vision to follow as democracy hangs in the balance.
On what issue do you think the national conversation is most misguided, and how does your approach differ from commonly held perspectives? There is a concerning strain in our national politics to condemn those we disagree with as irredeemable and then stop interacting with them. As an LGBTQ person in the South, I have a lot of experience with what it means to keep showing up, even for tough conversations. Love, empathy and hope are as essential as the air we breathe, and we need them in politics as much as we do in other parts of life.
Occupation: Small-usiness owner (web marketing agency)
Previous candidacy or offices held: N/A
Key endorsements: Classical Liberal Caucus
Amount of money raised: $18,190
Top three donors: David Coatney, Libertarian Party of North Carolina, Beth Anne Puckett
With inflation at high levels and many experts expecting a recession in the next year, what federal policies do you support to help Western North Carolina stay on sound economic footing? I have an eight-point plan outlined at Project1971.org. Some of the key components include passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to reduce spending, driving down shipping costs by repealing the Jones Act and reducing health care costs by rolling back patent protection laws that favor Big Pharma.
What specific federal funding do you intend to pursue on behalf of WNC projects? Funding for parks and natural resources. I would also like to secure grants for nonprofits that focus on affordable housing.
In a U.S. House sharply divided along party lines, are there specific policy areas where you anticipate working together with the opposing party? Absolutely! I share views that align with both Democrats and Republicans, and I plan to work with both sides if elected. I’ll be able to work with Democrats on issues like marriage equality and prison reform, and I’ll be able to work with Republicans on issues like tax policy and a Balanced Budget Amendment. On other issues, like simplifying the immigration process, I’ll try to find areas to bring both sides together.
What concerns do you have about the state of American democracy, and how do you propose to address them? Where to begin? We must place personal liberties at the forefront of our conversation and support the rights of the individual over the rights of the state. We should also end the state of government surveillance by repealing the Patriot Act.
On what issue do you think the national conversation is most misguided, and how does your approach differ from commonly held perspectives? The left seems more concerned with stopping the right, and the right seems more concerned with stopping the left. I’m more concerned with moving forward: that means representing all the people of WNC and not just the ones that voted for me. I will always fight for reason and not partisanship, people and not party.