Bringing a Different Perspective

In just a few short weeks, we will go to the polls and vote for county commissioners. I am a candidate for the at-large seat and running to provide a different perspective and bring a different kind of leadership to county government. While some talk about stepping stones, I’m focused on building blocks for our community. I believe my experiences, not just those on my resume, offer an opportunity for those whose voices are not always heard to have a seat at the table.

We need more diversity on the Board of County Commissioners. We need someone who comes from a generation of less opportunity because the economy has shifted beneath our feet. The Millennial Generation has a lot to offer Orange County, but as a member of this generation, I recognize the fact we need more opportunities for affordable housing and well-paying jobs. Even as a college graduate with a good paying job, I still struggle with these issues. If I struggle, I know there are those with few opportunities and fewer options that struggle even more.

I grew up in Orange County and attended the excellent public schools we are proud of. I benefitted from a pre-k program staffed with county employees. This program allowed me to overcome a significant speech impediment and enter kindergarten on par with the rest of my peers. I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in a community that allows for folks like me to get ahead with the hopes of staying ahead. However, I know from first-hand that that is not the case for many in the community.

From an early age I experienced the things I know others in Orange County face every single day. I attended an elementary school that had more and more students who qualified for the free and reduced lunch program and I was one of them. We experienced sub-standard Section 8 housing. I learned of the shame of poverty when I asked my mom about food stamps and Medicaid and why we had it. For me poverty is not about statistics, but real people and a lack of opportunity.

I feel as though I got lucky. I attended great schools and got into Carolina. It would be unconscionable for me to say I got my golden ticket, and leave the 3,820 children who still live in poverty, 13.4% of Orange County’s children, behind. Students comprising 43% of the county district and 28% of the city district receive free and reduced lunch. There are 6,087 families that receive food stamps. These children and families need an economy that does not leave them behind and I will be their champion. They need affordable housing that is truly affordable, jobs that pay livable wages, and a community we can say is livable for everyone, not just the affluent.

Being bi-racial I experienced the issues we know still exist in our community. While I succeeded academically, I cannot help but think that I also could have fallen to the pervasive achievement gap. To solve the issue of poverty, opportunity, and achievement, we must create a community-wide solution by working with all of our local governments and non-governmental partners. I am thankful for the Family Success Alliance and what they are doing to help, and the leadership of the Commissioners for their continual broad-based action. But we need more.

As a county commissioner, I will bring these concerns to the table. One of my campaign promises is to be available anytime, anywhere to hear from the community about their concerns and their suggestions. I thoroughly enjoy going out and meeting folks in every corner of the county from all different backgrounds. I have always strived to be inclusive, collaborative, and a listener.  I will give a voice to those who need our help the most, and represent a different perspective on the Board by bringing needed diversity and a new energy to the Board of County Commissioners.


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