ROCKINGHAM — The head of the state Democratic Party swung through his home county Monday during a four-stop day on his “Rural N.C. Listening Tour.”
Hamlet native Wayne Goodwin, who was elected state chairman in February 2017, met with Richmond County residents at Liberty Place to hear what they have to say about North Carolina’s political climate.
Goodwin kicked off the tour this past February in the northeastern part of the state, which has the largest cluster of contiguous Tier 1 counties — 16 out of 40.
The second-largest clump is mostly along the U.S. 74 corridor, stretching from Columbus and Bladen west to Anson and also includes Richmond, Montgomery, Scotland and Robeson.
“I believe it is vital that we go to communities that believe that their voices are not being heard and give them a chance to express what their needs are and hear what Democrats are doing to address those needs and concerns,” he said in a telephone interview while travelling from Scotland to Richmond County.
Monday’s jaunt started in Robeson County, with Goodwin heading west on U.S. 74, ending the day with a stop combining residents of Union and Anson counties.
“If rural counties prosper and have any portion of their needs met, that’ll help the whole state,” he said. “Because it impacts urban counties when rural citizens leave … to go find work or use their roads or use their schools or use their water.”
Being from a rural county, Goodwin says he thinks he’s “the right person at the right time to address this concern.”
While he’s focusing “predominantly to hear what’s on the minds of Democrats,” Goodwin acknowledged the high percentage of unaffiliated voters and said he’s willing to listen to the concerns of any voters who attend the meetings.
Goodwin said those he has spoken with are concerned mainly with “kitchen-table issues” instead of hot-button topics.
“They’re tired of hyper-partisanship — not only by the Republicans, but by both major political parties — and they want to hear who’s fighting for them,” he said. “Who’s fighting for better jobs, better wages, cleaner water, better access to affordable health care — opportunities that have been escaping rural North Carolina.
Public education and economic security are also at the top of the concerns list.
“So it’s an opportunity for me to hear what’s on the list of needs that our rural communities have and for me to share with them who their candidates are and what parts of our platform, if elected to be in the majority of the legislature, will address those concerns.”
While cannabis legalization hasn’t come up in his talks in the east, Goodwin said he expects to hear more about it as he heads west.
Goodwin said he is focused as much on the 2020 election as he is this year’s mid-terms “because it takes a while to reach voters … particularly when so many are fed up with politics.”
“Politics gets us into messes,” he said, “but politics and hardworking folks who care about our state can get us out of this mess.”
When it comes to the projected “blue wave” of Democrats securing a majority of seats across the state and nation, Goodwin said he was “cautiously optimistic.”
“… Democrats should do quite well for mid-terms,” he said, “but I know that there’s a lifetime, politically, between now and November and that it is vital that Democrats continue to reach out to and listen to and fight for the votes of every voter.”
Goodwin says a lot of actions taken by legislative Republicans on the state and national level are because “they know Democrats are going to do very well in November.”
Everyone who cares about the state, he added, “needs to vote.”
“These mid-term elections are notorious for having low voter turnout, ” he said, adding that with such turnouts, “bad decisions can be made at the ballot box.”
That being said, Goodwin encourages all voters to make a showing at the polls.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 or firstname.lastname@example.org.