Democratic primary

For Xpress‘ 2004 primary-election coverage, our reporters asked the candidates a number of questions. We used a grid format in our print edition, publishing condensed answers to 10 questions that we thought would be most helpful to voters.

Here are the expanded responses from the two candidates vying in the Democratic primary for a shot at running against veteran Republican Congressman Charles Taylor in November:

Patsy Keever

Age: 56
Address: 17 Braddock Way, Asheville
Occupation: Retired teacher
Years in WNC: 33
Education: Master’s in education, Western Carolina University; B.A., Duke
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Buncombe County commissioner, 12 years; Board of Health, 12 years; Regional Water Authority board; past president, League of Women Voters

Q&A

1. What should the U.S. do about the situation in Iraq?

“I would like to see us get our troops out as quickly and as safely as possible, but I think we need to have an exit strategy. I think we need to be sure that we leave a democratic government there that’s in control, and mostly I think we need to involve other countries in what we do.”

2. What is your position on NAFTA, and what would you do in Congress to support your position?

“I would not have supported NAFTA. We need to do more in our country to protect our workers and jobs. I would not give tax breaks to companies who outsource their work.”

3. What is your opinion of the USA PATRIOT Act? If elected, will you work to strengthen it, weaken it or abolish it?

“I think it’s important for us to have security and for us to feel secure, but I think we can do that without taking away our constitutional rights. I think we’ve gone overboard in that area. We need to reform [the Patriot Act] to ban provisions such as sneak-and-peek searches that violate our personal freedoms.”

4. What will you do to bring jobs to WNC?

“One of the things we need to do is support small businesses; we need to use the resources that we have here and the creative ideas that people have here. We need things like federal loans to small businesses; small businesses need help with insurance.”

5. What will be the first bill you introduce?

“My focus will remain on creating jobs and making education a priority, and balanced fiscal planning. I don’t know if there is a specific legislation I have in mind.”

6. While Kerry will undoubtedly get the party’s nomination, who did you support at the outset of the primaries?

“I supported Edwards at the beginning; now I support Kerry. I’d like to see Edwards as vice president.”

7. What is the Democratic party’s biggest strength? Weakness?

“Its biggest strength is that it tries very hard to take care of the working person. I think the Democratic Party is the party of the people — that’s why I’m a Democrat.” Weakness: “It doesn’t have as much money as the Republican party.”

8. How can Charles Taylor be defeated? What makes you think you can unseat a cardinal of Congress?

“People want change. We have such great support for our campaign in all 15 districts. We have over 400 volunteers; we have over 1,400 different people who have already contributed to the campaign, and I think that that shows the grassroots desire to change what we have going on in Congress right now.”

9. The No Child Left Behind Act is being touted by the Bush administration as a way to improve education. What’s your take on that plan?

“It’s an unfunded mandate, and it shouldn’t exist. It’s an unfunded mandate which demoralizes our students and teachers, and we need to fund programs that strengthen our schools and empower our teachers and prepare our children to compete. I do believe in accountability for teachers and students, but we can’t pass unfunded mandates and raise the standards without also raising the resources.”

10. The Bush administration is promoting the Clear Skies Initiative, and some say it’s undermining North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act. What would you do to clean up the region’s air?

“I would certainly support legislation that would hold our neighbor states accountable. The Clear Skies Initiative lowers our standards, and I don’t think that’s the kind of legislation we need.”

Clyde Michael Morgan

Age: 50
Address: 501 Dennis St., Swanannoa
Occupation: Construction
Years in WNC: Born and raised here
Education: B.A. in mass communication from UNCA
Political party: Democrat
Political experience: Never elected to office

For the record

Morgan was convicted in 1984 of voluntary manslaughter and served 70 months of a 10-year sentence. He maintains his innocence.

For Xpress’ coverage of the issue back when Morgan ran for office in 2000, see “Dealing with a dark past” in the April 19, 2000 edition.

Q&A

1. What should the U.S. do about the situation in Iraq?

“I think we should leave immediately, the same way we got there: We pulled up boats and we unloaded men and we told them to go inland. We can reverse that process, tell them: ‘Back there are the boats; go back to them and get on board.’ Turn it over to the U.N.”

2. What is your position on NAFTA, and what would you do in Congress to support your position?

“I would like to repeal NAFTA, and I will do everything I can to get out of NAFTA and the World Trade Organization both.”

3. What is your opinion of the USA PATRIOT Act? If elected, will you work to strengthen it, weaken it or abolish it?

“The PATRIOT Act is an abomination. It’s a direct assault against the constitutional rights and privileges and freedoms of the American people, and it should be repealed immediately. It should have never been enacted.”

4. What will you do to bring jobs to WNC?

“I have a watershed-preservation plan that will preserve watersheds for future drinking-water purposes. It will provide jobs by harnessing this water and either putting it in the municipal system or bottling it up and selling it to areas like Atlanta and Charlotte and High Point, Greensboro and Raleigh — areas that don’t have fresh spring water.”

5. What will be the first bill you introduce?

“The most important thing I want to work on is to stop this war on drugs. It’s senseless, it attacks our young children, and it’s prejudiced against the black population.”

6. While Kerry will undoubtedly get the party’s nomination, who did you support at the outset of the primaries?

“Dennis Kucinich — without question.”

7. What is the Democratic Party’s biggest strength? Weakness?

Strength: “They’re against George Bush. They used to be for the people, but that’s not true anymore.” Weakness: “They’ve merged with the Republican party; a lot of people can’t tell the difference between Demopublicans and Republicrats.”

8. How can Charles Taylor be defeated? What makes you think you can unseat a cardinal of Congress?

“I have what I call my 20-20-20 Web Plan. If you tell 20 people about my Web site and get them to refer 20 people more, and they tell 20 more friends — that’s 8,000 votes per person that starts that chain working. And I have talked to at least 30,000 people personally and handed them a flier and explained the 20-20 Web Plan, and I think many of them are following through with that.”

9. The No Child Left Behind Act is being touted by the Bush administration as a way to improve education. What’s your take on that plan?

“No Child Left Behind is a lie and a farce, and it should be discarded in its entirety; we should start over. It’s like everything else Bush has done: It sounds good, but the name of it is in direct opposition to the true intent. Just like the Clear Skies Initiative is a direct assault on our clean skies by repealing the smokestack emissions and so forth.”

10. The Bush administration is promoting the Clear Skies Initiative, and some say it’s undermining North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act. What would you do to clean up the region’s air?

“I would reinstate every lawsuit ever filed by the EPA during the Clinton administration and try to force the polluting industries to clean up and stop polluting. I would put teeth back into the Clean Smokestacks Act and environmental policies.”

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