Keith Thomson’s recent Mountain Xpress letter praised Al Whitesides, my opponent in the race for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, District 1 [“Whitesides Offers Progressive, Dedicated Leadership,” April 13]. It also raised important issues that highlight the debilitating divide between progressive and moderate Democrats. He stated: “The danger of treating the first African American county commissioner in Buncombe County history the ways some did Al Gore in Florida in 2000, Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in 2016, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson in March 2022 is the law of unintended consequences cannot be repealed. No one can honestly claim to be ‘progressive’ and pull that trick.”
I think Mr. Thomson is saying that I am a spoiler candidate like he believes Green Party candidates Ralph Nader and Jill Stein were to Hillary and Al. However, I am a Democratic Party candidate, not a Green Party candidate. If I lose the primary, it will not harm the distinguished Mr. Whitesides’ chances of winning the general election, and I’ll work and vote for him.
Then there’s Mr. Thomson’s concern that my candidacy will cause Buncombe County to lose its only African American commissioner. And though I agree this is an important issue, I felt it was more important to oppose Mr. Whitesides because he voted to subsidize the Pratt & Whitney plant by $27 million of our tax dollars — a plant that will be making parts for one of the most lethal weapons on Earth, the F-35 Lightning. And since the Lightning is designed to carry nuclear weapons, he also voted to make our county an integral part of America’s preparation for nuclear war.
Then there’s Mr. Thomson’s contention that “No one can honestly claim to be ‘progressive’ and pull this trick.” I presume that means that you can’t vote for me and call yourself a progressive Democrat. Such a statement widens the already vast schism between progressive and moderate Democrats that has stunted our party’s success both locally and nationally. Especially now, with our very democracy in great peril, we need to heal these wounds. The decisions we have to make to save our freedoms are incredibly difficult ones. Making the best decisions will require a robust discussion involving all sectors of our wonderful, big-tent party.
Because I deeply realize how hard these decisions are, I have profound respect for the views of moderate Democrats as well as progressive Democrats. I believe I can promote respectful and productive communication between these branches. And that I can do the same with the Green Party, the Democratic-Socialist Party, the Poor People’s Party and others who have left the Democratic coalition. Our Democratic Party will need all the support we can get to achieve our goals of preserving the democracy, promoting racial, sexual and social justice, and achieving a sustainable ecology and a stable world peace.
— Bill Branyon