Are You Concerned? Vote Biden (Sept,23)

Are you concerned? Vote for Biden

To the Editor of the Sylva Herald:

Are you concerned about bringing the pandemic to an end? About restoring lost jobs and businesses? About being evicted? About economic survival?

Are you concerned about the future of our public schools? The safety of our children, grandchildren and teachers on every day that school is open?

Are you in need of affordable health care? Do you believe everyone should have it?

Are you concerned about high prices in the grocery store? Loss of savings, loss of investments?

Are you concerned about the future of Medicare and Social Security? Do you depend on those programs? Donald Trump has made repeated attempts to undermine them.

Do you believe a president should obey the law? Including stepping down if they lose the election? Donald Trump has indicated he may not do that.

Are you worried about gun violence in our nation’s public schools? Are you sickened by the hatred and racism that are spewed everywhere and egged on by Donald Trump?

If you are concerned about any of these things, vote – for Biden.

Never voted for a Democrat before? Maybe now is the time.

Not your first-choice candidate? Not mine either – but it doesn’t matter. That’s who we have.

Don’t know enough about Biden to vote for him? We know enough about Trump to know that we can’t take four more years of this.

No one in your family voting for Biden? That’s OK. A secret ballot is a secret ballot. Even if you vote by mail, which requires a witness, that witness is there to certify that you voted, not how you voted – they are not supposed to watch who you select. That’s why they sign the envelope, not the ballot.

Thinking about not voting? That’s only half a vote against Trump. To make your voice heard, vote for Biden. Thinking about a third-party candidate? That’s the same as not voting at all, because a third-party candidate won’t win. Vote for Biden.

Our democracy is under serious attack by a President who refuses to obey the law. Do you want to wake up on Nov. 4 to a true dictatorship? If you don’t, vote for Biden.

Vote, and vote early. If you mail in your ballot, do it early. If you do early voting, vote closer to Oct. 15 than Oct. 31. If you vote in person, vote early in the day!

If you are concerned, vote. For Biden.

Louise Runyon,


Deadline for response to 2020 Census is Sept. 30. (Sept. 23)

The Sylva Herald, by Jim Buchanan

As the clock runs down on the opportunity to respond to the 2020 Census, response rates continue to lag in Jackson County.

The deadline to respond to the census, which determines political boundaries and allocates tax dollars, is Sept. 30. Nationwide the national census self-response rate stood at 66 percent. Statewide, North Carolinians had responded at a 62.2 percent clip. In Jackson County the self-response rate was 35.6 percent, which is actually above the 2010 rate of 33.7 percent.

The N.C. Department of Administration Communications Office said last week that about 1.6 million North Carolina households representing nearly 4 million people had not responded, putting nearly $7.4 billion in funding over the next decade at risk. Additionally, an undercount could mean the state might be denied a 14th seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The 2020 Census is North Carolina’s opportunity to bring back federal tax dollars to communities for critical infrastructure, planning and services,” said N.C. Department of Administration Secretary and N.C. Complete Count Commission Chair Machelle Sanders. “Undercounting North Carolina’s residents represents real dollars lost, real community programs underfunded, and real people whose needs are going underserved or unserved.”

Locally, census allocation dollars go to help fund schools and education, a variety of food programs, infrastructure projects, Medicare, Medicaid, emergency services and more.

Jackie Simms, chair of the programs and grants committee at Dogwood Health Trust, said, “Western North Carolina has historically been undercounted in the census, and 2020 is no exception. Completing the census is safe, easy and convenient. It takes less than 10 minutes and can be done via the computer, mobile phone, telephone or paper form.” Dogwood has partnered with counties in WNC and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in efforts to expand census response rates.

The Census Bureau has added a “total response rate” category, which includes self-responses, follow-responses obtained by Bureau “door knockers,” and takes into account seasonal homes and households that didn’t respond to census worker visits. That count puts North Carolina’s “total response rate” at 88.5 percent, 44th in the nation.

Respondents can complete the census online at People without broadband access can complete the census by phone or mail. Those seeking assistance can contact the 2020 Census Hotline at 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish)

County set to offer expanded hours, waive fees for flu shots. (Sept. 23)

The Sylva Herald, by Beth Lawrence

Jackson County commissioners voted unanimously to allow the health department to temporarily suspend fees for flu shots as a measure to help meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health officials nationwide are worried that a typical fall and winter rise in flu cases could place undue strain on hospitals already caring for COVID-19 patients.

“As you all know, we’re dealing with the pandemic and the flu season on the way,” Public Health Director Shelly Carraway told the board. “This year is going to be even more crucial for as many folks to get the flu immunization as possible.”

To make the flu vaccine more easily accessible, the health department has planned mobile clinics and expanded hours at its permanent location including weekend hours.

Not only will access be expanded, more vaccines will be available. 

“With the concerns about the strain on our healthcare system this fall if we were to have a bad flu along with COVID in play, the CDC actually is providing additional flu vaccines for adults with a focus on adults that are at increased risk from flu complications because those are the ones that’ll strain our healthcare system,” Carraway said.

The state has also suggested health departments remove possible financial barriers. The recommendation led Jackson County Department of Public Health to request commissioners suspend vaccine fees this flu season. The department will continue to bill insurance companies who usually cover the full cost of their client’s immunization.

Drive through clinics begin in October for flu shots only. No appointment is necessary.

Clinics will be held at Jackson County Department of Public Health 154 Medical Park Loop.Dates are 9-11 a.m. Oct. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 4-6 p.m. Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27. For more information, call 586-8996.

Schools move to Plan A for elementary students here. (Sept. 23)

The Sylva Herald, by Dave Russell

The Jackson County Board of Education voted Tuesday to send pre-K-5th grade students to school four days a week. The board decided to move those students from Plan B to Plan A starting Oct. 5, with in-person teaching every day except Wednesday.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced last week that school districts could choose to transition elementary school students into Plan A starting Oct. 5.

Districts still have the option to choose Plan B, a mix of in-person and remote learning, or Plan C, remote learning. Schools must allow parents the option of all-remote learning for students.

Cooper did not announce a timeline or plan for allowing other grade levels to return for full-time in-person instruction. 

“We have been working on developing a plan that would move Jackson County Public Schools into alignment with Plan A for pre-K–5th grade,” Interim Superintendent Tony Tipton told the board. 

Neither clusters nor outbreaks of COVID have struck the schools so far.

Under Plan A schools must still follow specific guidelines, such as wearing masks, washing hands often and maintaining social distancing.

“It is still required that we follow Plan B while on school buses,” he said. “There will be one student in each seat, if it’s a family, a brother and sister can share a seat. We believe we’re OK right now with the buses we’re running.”

Moving to Plan A required the school board to approve a calendar change.

A staff development day set for Oct. 5 will move to Wednesday, Oct. 7. That Wednesday will remain a mandatory workday.

“Recently we asked parents to let us know if they want to remain on remote learning or return to school at the beginning of the second nine weeks,” Tipton said. “We are suggesting that these students who want to return from remote to face-to-face, they come back Oct. 5th.”

Remote-only students in the county’s pre-K-8 schools could return for face-to-face instruction as well.

“To minimize students changing back and forth between remote and face-to-face, we are requiring parents decide now for the entire school year,” Tipton said. “We understand various family circumstances may change between now and June which may require a change in this option.”

The schools would address those situations on a case by case basis, he said.

“Plan A means we will no longer offer an A-B schedule in pre-K–5th grades,” Tipton said. “We will be only four days a week, or full-time remote.” 

Middle and high school students will still be on an A/B schedule, attending class two days a week and learning remotely three days.

“Wednesday will continue to be a remote learning day,” he said. “Currently we still have a large number of families requesting to remain on remote learning. Our teachers simply cannot have school five days a week full time and still offer quality remote learning at the same time. Our teachers are great, but they are not superhuman.”

In an effort to minimize exposure, schools will keep students in the same small group whenever teachers are doing group activities, such as reading groups, he said.

Tipton pointed to the athletic programs, which work in a pod system. Smaller groups limit the number of students who could be exposed by a positive classmate.

The board voted unanimously to adopt Tipton’s proposals to move to Plan A and change the calendar.

COVID-19 delays R-5600 N.C. DOT project. (Sept. 23)

The Sylva Herald, by Patrick Clemon

Like many other facets of life in 2020, COVID-19 is affecting various N.C. Department of Transportation projects, including R-5600. The project to reshape Sylva’s commercial corridor has been postponed from fiscal year 2022 to 2025.

R-5600 is the DOT proposal for Sylva’s commercial corridor, N.C. 107, including the elimination of the center turn lane with sidewalks replaced and a 5-foot bike lane. Upgrades are slated for the N.C. 107/U.S. 23 Business intersection, and from U.S. 23 Business to Dillardtown Road and Municipal Drive, near the Sylva Fire Department. DOT’s preliminary estimate lists 55 businesses facing potential relocation or impact, though that number is fluid.

Residents of Sylva and the surrounding areas may not see physical changes anytime soon, but work is still ongoing behind the scenes.

“This project will continue to move forward with design,” said Jeanette White, DOT senior project engineer. “However, for land use needs or right-of-way acquisition, it’s being offset from this year to 2022.”

White said the early construction stages have been deferred as well.

“We’re not sure exactly which month it’s going to be, and we’re not 100 percent certain that these changes are going to go forward because we’re waiting on the state transportation board to vote on these potential probable changes next month, so that’s for the right-of-way acquisition needs and then construction is being offset to the fiscal year 2025 from 2022,” she said.

Even though the project has been delayed for some time, construction is inevitable.

“It is expected to take approximately three years for construction,” she said. “This project is definitely very huge. It has over 20 walls with cleaning lines along the project to help minimize impacts, so right now, we’re still estimating three years for construction.”

White also gave a brief step-by-step summary of what community members will experience during this time.

“We’re going to put the work in to construct all the bulb-outs on each side of the road first and then it’ll be up to the contractor to pick which side or the other that they choose to begin the construction,” she said. “We’re going to widen the road along that side, and then we’re going to move traffic to that side, and then we’re going to continue to widen the road on the other side.”

Many residents are concerned about how this eventual construction will affect their day-to-day travel.

“There’s going to be no permanent detours,” White said. “Most of the work can be completed at night except in the residential areas if there are any specific residential areas of concern.”

R-5600 would also affect local businesses.

“We’re in the process now contacting property owners from Pizza Hut, Verizon, roughly in that generalized area, all the way down to the first entrance to Lowe’s,” White said.

DOT is trying to address concerns of business owners who fear a loss of income over this period.

“We’re going to do all we can to maintain access to all businesses during construction,” she said. “There may be temporary closures for maybe a day because we’re putting a pipe in the front of a driveway, but we’re really trying to maintain access to all businesses throughout the project during construction.”

White detailed the choices some businesses will have to make for the project.

“We had two very large stormwater pipes that were being proposed between Verizon and across the street from Verizon,” White said.

Alternatives are given to landowners on how they would like to handle the situation, she said.

“Potentially a 7-foot by 7-foot box culvert would go either underneath the road or offset of the road so that we can really minimize impact so we’re actually getting property owners the ability to help assist in the decision process whether they would like a box culvert put along their property or if they would like an open stream literally along their property,” she said.

More information can be found at

Flu, COVID-19 on a collision course. (Sept. 23)

The Sylva Herald, by Dave Russell

New cases of COVID-19 declined for three weeks, but the Jackson County Department of Public Health reports a slight uptick this week. On Monday, the agency reported 13 new cases, the most in a single day since Aug. 31. Another four cases came in on Tuesday, bringing the total for the week of Sept. 16-22 to 20.

The county currently has 30 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection. That’s up from 20 last week.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the health department reported 641 cases among full-time residents, with 12,902 tests reported to the agency.

Last Tuesday, the health department reported 621 cases of full-time residents and 12,431 tests performed.

The county has had 123 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS on Tuesday reported 195,549 cases and 3,286 deaths in the state, with 2,824,929 tests conducted.

Nationwide, cases numbered 6,825,697 and deaths 199,462 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The Jackson County Public Schools dashboard (, tracks positive cases among staff and student. The only active case is a non-staff person in the Smoky Mountain High School Athletic Department. That case has not caused any disruption to workouts, according to Athletic Director Adam Phillips.

Two positive student cases have been reported at SMHS and one at Fairview Elementary as of Tuesday afternoon, but none of those cases are active.

Western Carolina University’s dashboard ( reports four new cases the week of Sept. 14-20.

Last week the WCU dashboard showed nine new student cases. Since July 1 there have been 116 cases among students, four among employees and five among sub-contractors.

WCU reports 31 students in self isolation/quarantine, including four on campus. The total is down from 70 last week.

Health officials dread the confluence of COVID-19 and the flu.

“The big thing we are stressing right now is the importance of getting a flu vaccine to protect yourself,” said Melissa McKnight, deputy health director of the Jackson County Department of Public Health. “You can contract both flu and COVID-19 at the same time. To protect yourself and reduce the burden on the healthcare system, we can’t stress enough the importance of flu vaccination this year.”

A COVID-19 vaccine is in the works in seemingly every country capable of producing one, including the United States.

According to McKnight, the goals of the federal vaccination distribution process (Operation Warp Speed) are:

• to ensure the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

• to reduce the morbidity and mortality of COVID-19 disease through effective and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

• to support rapid vaccine distribution based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for states immunization services.

• to assist with the return to pre-pandemic quality of life.

“Vaccines are being manufactured concurrently with clinical trials so that when one does pass rigorous clinical trials and is vetted by the FDA, it is ready to ship,” she said. “I know this process seems very fast, and honestly, we want it to be fast. We are fighting a pandemic and we want all the tools available to fight it in the quickest manner possible. However, fast does not mean not thorough, unsafe or ineffective.”

Recently, AstraZeneca halted a vaccine trial after a reported side effect in a patient. The company paused as a routine action to investigate the side effect, McKnight said. 

“I think this action is a good example of the commitment to the process of developing a safe and effective vaccine,” she said.

The health department and local medical providers will be ready to offer the COVID vaccination when it is available. 

“As for a timeline, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is working to develop the state COVID-19 vaccination plan based on current data and federal recommendations,” McKnight said. “We will use this plan to guide our vaccination efforts.”

NC District 11 Democratic Party Alert

Dear Fellow Democrats,

Today I’m feeling many emotions as we mourn the death of a gentle, giant warrior, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Although I’m very sad and my heart is heavy, I’m reminded that I am not powerless. 

I’m sharing with you a message from Jeff Rose, President of the North Carolina County Chairs’ Association and Chair of the Buncombe County Democratic Party.  Jeff’s words are just what I needed to lift my spirits this morning, and I hope you find they comfort you, as well.

Although some links are specific to Buncombe County, please reach out to your County Democratic Party to support your candidates and Party.

We’re Stronger Together and United We Win.

Warm Regards,
Kathy Sinclair, Chair
NC CD11 Democratic Party


Here’s Jeff’s Message.

Tonight, our nation is mourning the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice Ginsburg was a legal pioneer for gender equality and a fierce ally of civil rights, equality, and justice during her entire career. She was an inspiration to women all across the country for decades, from her time working at the American Civil Liberties Union through her years on the Supreme Court.

As we grieve her loss, we also must work to honor and defend her legacy. North Carolina is the barrier standing between Trump and a second term. We can be the ones who elect Joe Biden, and we can be the state that flips the Senate by electing Cal Cunningham.
Tonight, Senator McConnell announced “Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.” While we cannot stop him from holding a vote, we can put pressure on vulnerable senators and show the nation we’re all watching. And we must.

That starts with you. You can talk to your friends, neighbors, and family about voting this year, no matter where they live. Together, we can connect with as many left-leaning voters in Buncombe and share information about when, where, and how to vote.
Here are some concrete steps you can take this weekend to help Democrats win in North Carolina.

  1. Sign up to make some phone calls during the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Weekend of Action here in Buncombe county. Click here to register for Saturday, or join County Commission candidate Parker Sloan on Sunday by clicking here
  2. Donate to the North Carolina Democratic Party to support winning the state for Joe Biden and electing Cal Cunningham as our next senator
  3. Join in the Vigil for RGB on Saturday at 6pm in Pack Square

All of us at the Buncombe Democrats are heartbroken and grieving with you. This year has been so difficult for our nation, and I know Justice Ginsburg’s passing has left many of you with less hope for the future.

I truly believe that working together, we can and will get through these next 45 days. Our work will send Joe Biden to the White House to begin to heal our nation.

Thank you all for your continued work and dedication to a better county, state, and nation.
Jeff Rose
BCDP Chair

Candidate Debates Announced for NC House, NC Senate, and Jackson Commissioners.

A Virtual debate for NC House of Representative, District 119, between Joe Sam Queen (incumbent) and Mike Clampitt is being held on October 8 at 7 pm.


Jackson County Board of Commissioners will be debating on September 24 at 7pm.  The public can view it at  It is hosted by Southwestern Community College.

Democratic Candidates are Susan Bogardus (District 3) and Mark Jones (District 4).

A debate for NC Senate, District 50 with Democrat Victoria Fox and Republican Kevin Corbin and will be held on October 22 at 7 pm.  


Updates on all three of these debates can be found at and on SCC’s official social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Gov. Cooper: $40 Million to Connect with Internet & Remote Learning. (Sept. 9)

Today, Governor Roy Cooper announced nearly $40 million in funding for NC Student Connect, a new partnership created to address internet connectivity gaps that are a barrier to remote learning for many North Carolina students. When school resumed in August, superintendents estimated that at least 100,000 students still lacked a reliable internet connection at home.

Many North Carolina students are currently attending school remotely and need reliable internet access to be able to connect with their teachers and access their lessons. Students who are attending school onsite may also need internet access at home to be able to complete assignments.

“Long before COVID-19, expanding access to high-speed internet has been a top priority for my administration, and this pandemic has made the need even more urgent,” said Governor Cooper. “NC Student Connect will make critical investments in high speed internet access and remote learning that will help students, health care and businesses in our state.”

Today’s NC Student Connect investment includes:

  • $30 million to distribute 100,000 wireless high speed hot spots for students to connect with their remote learning classes.
  • $8 million to create accessible sites in convenient locations across the state such as school parking lots, municipal areas, and state parks, museums and historic sites. These NC Student Connect sites will provide free high-speed internet for students to connect to the Internet to download lessons and complete assignments offline.
  • $2 million for educator professional development, parent training and student involvement in a spectrum of activities that go into effective remote learning. More than 1,300 educators from rural North Carolina already participated in a virtual conference focused on remote learning to help them be better prepared to teach throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about that conference.

NC Student Connect is a partnership across state government including the Department of Information Technology (DIT), the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR), Governor Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative and the NC Business Committee for Education (NCBCE), an educational nonprofit in the Governor’s Office. These and other agencies have already worked to build partnerships to help leverage public investments to increase internet access in underserved communities. Purchasing began before Labor Day and thousands of hot spots will be shipped to school systems this week and will continue throughout the month.

“This announcement illustrates the state’s unwavering commitment in connecting all our students and all of NC,” said DIT Acting Secretary Thomas Parrish. “There’s no greater action than investing in our children, our future world changers. We are grateful to our private partners, and all those who are assisting in this effort; our tomorrow says thank you.”

“As a parent with a child that is remote learning at home, I can testify to the urgent need for devices with high speed connectivity,” said DNCR Secretary Susi Hamilton. “As a leader in State government, I can answer the Governor’s call to help school children by lending them devices through our State Library and add to their learning experience through outdoor and cultural programming that this department offers.”

“Today’s actions significantly advance Governor Cooper’s commitment to quality, accessible high-speed internet for every North Carolina school district. Our Remote Learning Working Group continues to produce meaningful solutions for our most marginalized students. The time is now for bold, innovative, and collaborative solutions that deliver high-speed internet to every North Carolina home,” said Jeremy Collins, Director of Innovative Connectivity with Hometown Strong.

“Google is proud to work with our state, local, and corporate partners to provide innovative connectivity solutions—such as our Rolling Hotspots program in North Carolina—to help students access Wi-Fi. NCBCE’s Remote Learning Working Group is thrilled that the state will invest in the NC Student Connect Program and provide professional development for educators as part of a collective effort to make it possible for more students to engage in school work remotely,” said Lilyn Hester, Head of External Affairs – Southeast, Google, who serves as vice chairwoman of NCBCE and Chairwoman of the NCBCE Remote Learning Working Group.

Initial private sector investments in remote learning and NC Student Connect include, AT&T, Duke Energy Foundation, Fidelity Investments, Google, Smithfield Foundation, Verizon Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.

NC Schools Can Choose to Implement Plan A for Elementary Schools Starting Oct. 5.

Governor Roy Cooper yesterday announced that after several weeks of stable COVID-19 trends and continued low virus spread in school settings, North Carolina public school districts and charter schools can choose to implement Plan A for elementary schools (grades K-5) starting Oct. 5.

Plan A continues to include important safety measures like face coverings for all students, teachers and staff, and symptom screening. But schools will not be required to reduce the number of children in the classroom to meet social distancing of 6 feet.

As the Governor announced in July, every district will continue to have flexibility to select Plan A, B or C based on their unique needs. In addition, districts should still provide an option for families to select all remote learning for their students. Read the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit to learn more about the requirements under each plan.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shared an update on North Carolina’s data trends. Dr. Cohen explained that North Carolina has seen a sustained leveling or decrease of key metrics.

“Our trends show that we are on the right track. It’s up to all of us to protect our progress. Our individual actions like those 3 Ws will help keep our school doors open,” said Secretary Cohen.

Secretary Cohen also explained that as schools have opened, the current science shows that younger children are less likely to become infected, have symptoms, experience severe disease or spread the virus.

Find all public health guidance for K-12 schools here.

Clampitt/Queen forum announced (Sept. 16)

Smoky Mountain News, Admin.

Republican Mike Clampitt and Democrat Rep. Joe Sam Queen, candidates for the North Carolina House of Representative District 119, will appear at a virtual town hall hosted by The Smoky Mountain News and Blue Ridge Public Radio.

On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 24, candidates will join moderators Lilly Knoepp and Cory Vaillancourt for “NC 119: Virtual Town Hall” starting at 7 p.m. Both moderators will pose questions for these political veterans as well as ask questions sent in by the community and local leaders.

This will be the fifth time that these two candidates have gone head-to-head to represent the people of Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties.

Residents of the district are invited to submit questions about current issues like COVID-19, racial justice, employment in the mountains, or other relevant issues by visiting the Facebook event page,

The virtual event will be hosted at Western Carolina University. Due to venue capacity limits currently in place, the event will not be open to the public, but will be livestreamed on Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Facebook page.

Your Input on Joe Sam Queen & Mike Clampitt Virtual Town Hall on Sept. 24, 7pm

Share your input for next week’s NC 119: Virtual Town Hall
Join Blue Ridge Public Radio and Smoky Mountain News next Thursday, September 24, at 7 PM for a virtual town hall with Republican Mike Clampitt and Democrat Representative Joe Sam Queen, candidates running for the North Carolina House of Representatives District 119. This will be the fifth time that these two candidates have gone head-to-head to represent the people of Haywood, Jackson and Swain counties.
A big part of this virtual town hall is YOU. If you live in Swain, Jackson or Haywood Counties, send us your questions and concerns for both candidates. Do you want to talk about COVID-19, employment in the mountains, racial justice or other topics? Submit your questions by recording a voice memo and emailing them to, or post a comment to the event’s Facebook page.
The virtual event will be hosted at Western Carolina University; however, due to venue capacity limits currently in place the event will not be open to the public. This town hall will be livestreamed on Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Facebook page.

RGB: Recommit & Stay the Course, by Penny Smith (Sept. 9)

Yesterday was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. They culminate ten days later on Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of our world. The period following it is known as the Days of Awe; it’s a time to reflect on and acknowledge transgressions. The Days of Awe end with the holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur, on which penitents ask forgiveness for their sins.
Yesterday Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG, died. She was 87 and lived a long and by almost all measures successful life. Ginsburg had the good fortune to share most of it with a husband she loved. She parented two children, enjoyed the company of friends, several of whom were her ideological opposite, and fought unapologetically for social justice.
To say she will be missed is such an understatement that I hesitate to even write that phrase. Her departure has initiated what is certain to be a political war, hopefully only of words and legislative deeds. The selection of her replacement will dictate the course of this country, almost as much as will the election or defeat of Donald Trump. More on that at a later time perhaps.
So, amidst what is profound sadness on my part, let me digress for a moment. In the months before my family moved from Virginia to Florida, I was the best baseball player, male or female, in the motley crew of baby boomer sandlot competitors in my post-war neighborhood. At least that was the truth I carried in my mind, knowing almost unconsciously that it would cease to be true as the local boys, as well as my brother, outgrew me in strength and size. Yet, when we got to Florida, it was my brother in the sharp Little League uniform. My position was scorekeeper, baseball’s version of secretary and the only option available.
It was that same year, when I transitioned from elementary to junior high school, that I discovered that I could not put down Key Club as an extracurricular activity in which I was interested. I was inclined in that direction, no doubt, because it was affiliated with the Kiwanis Club of which my father was a member. I hadn’t known the Key Club accepted only males.
When I was a very young child, my mother routinely gave me a doll for Christmas. I preferred playing with other toys and she made the switch to microscopes and chemistry sets once I entered the latter stages of elementary school. After Sputnik made its appearance, I announced that I intended to become a nuclear physicist. That was probably motivated by the fact that my father worked at Langley Air Force Base, the first home of our nation’s space program, and by my pre-adolescent delight at finding a word my peers didn’t know.
What I failed to realize at the time was that most science programs were geared toward, recruited, attracted, and preferred males. I should have caught on to that trend when I was applying to National Science Foundation summer programs in high school; many of the best sounding ones were restricted to young men. My generation was the last one which was consciously taught that a woman’s true profession was homemaker. If she were to work outside the home, she should consider being a secretary (never the boss), a nurse (never the doctor) or a teacher (never the principal).
The best small college in Texas, where we lived when I reached the age of attending such an institution, enrolled only male undergraduates as Freshmen. I hadn’t realized how literal such a term as “Freshman” was until then. Later I discovered many state schools also discriminated against women. Think UNC-G, known to its older alumnae as Woman’s College.
When I entered college, I discovered that women had curfew hours and men did not. As President of the female side of a school’s first coed dorm, I spent part of my time working to get women the same right to late night entry as men had. In my senior year at the University of Houston I was President of something called the Association of Women Students, an organization whose very existence seems preposterous today. As a result of that affiliation, I was also a member of Sparks, a group of women one of whose main duties included dressing in the school colors and forming a line through which our football team could run onto the field at home games. Title IX was not yet the law of the land; women cheered and men secured scholarships and played. Even though I was an English undergraduate major, a fertile ground for female students, I had only one female professor at the U of H.
Thanks in large part to the work of people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all of that early history is firmly, one hopes, buried in the past. Girls play on the field today. The Lions, Kiwanians, and Rotarians accept women in their ranks. Although there are still fields of science in which female membership remains small, no field of science excludes them and they currently constitute majorities entering Colleges of Medicine and Law. Few schools today would create one set of housekeeping rules for their women students and another for their men. That college in Texas that only accepted male undergraduates provided me, after the passage of anti-discrimination legislation and a few Supreme Court decisions, some argued by RBG, with a scholarship for my Ph.D. in history. (I never had a female history professor during that time, but such would not be the case today.)
Why the digression? I worry that we are at one of those hinge moments in history, when we can create something monstrous or return to a path striving for something good. I have sometimes wished that RBG had retired in time for President Obama to appoint her successor. However, I understood her rationale for staying. She worried that a GOP dominated Senate, would tolerate only the appointment of a moderate. That would mean the Supreme Court would remain cautious at a time when she believed something more than caution was required. She was holding out for a Clinton victory and a Democratic Senate. We were both disappointed.
I have become convinced that we progressive sorts suffer from our belief in fair play. We still retain a sense of shame at transgressing norms. Our default position is more likely to be decency or civility than their opposites. Although I retain some confidence that we will not develop a dystopian Handmaid’s Tale America, the ripples of unrestrained white testosterone that circulate at a Trump Rally or in Twitter Storms sometimes make me doubt equality or equal justice is an achievable goal in the United States.
Democracy is a fragile thing. We have long taken it for granted, although our founders repeatedly told us it had to be reaffirmed by each generation. Vigilance, they claimed, was a necessary partner of democracy, because without it democracy could be destroyed. Bader Ginsburg remained on the court, because she believed the times called for such vigilance in order to retain the rights for which she and her allies struggled.
My generation is a bridge generation. Parts of an older order collapsed, a little too late for me to achieve Little League glory, but soon enough for me to pursue a couple of doctorates, become a principal, and teach at a university. Exceptional women were always able to work at the edges of a male-dominated society. They were usually unacknowledged, but there all the same. What Bader Ginsburg did was make it possible for not so exceptional women like me to work there, too. And, to be there when the edges faded and we moved closer to the mainstream.
I am a member of the “You’ve come a long way, baby” generation. That’s part of the luck of the draw, of timing and placement beyond anything over which I had control. I and thousands upon thousands of women like me succeeded, for those of you with a Christian theology bent, by grace. And by the good, hard, sustained work of the Ruth Bader Ginsburgs of my world.
Jewish tradition holds that someone who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a Tzaddik, a person of great righteousness. I’ve seen allusions to that tradition in several of the essays I read this morning. Certainly, RBG was a Tzaddik. We who have benefitted from her work owe her a legacy of continuing the fight. It will be, I fear, a long, bitter and contentious one. Many of us are of the age that we will not be there when the dawn begins once again to break, but we must never, ever go back; we must never, ever give in to the exhaustion of having to fight again and again for things we thought were won. We owe Bader Ginsburg our tenacity and our outrage.
As we transition toward Yom Kippur, perhaps we need to reflect on how our complacency may have contributed to the moment we have reached historically. A majority of Americans are spoiled with riches most of the world can scarcely imagine. It is all too easy to think the fight is almost over, the journey almost complete. Yet a spoiled child is arrogant and unconscious of privilege. A spoiled child lacks the necessary empathy to recognize that there are still Americans who have been denied access to those riches today or who may be denied that access through a Supreme Court decision tomorrow. Exhaustion must not be an excuse for complacency.
Recommit, stay the course. Do what you have the will and strength to do to make this a better world, for the sake of righteousness in memory of The Notorious RBG?

Don’t Despair: RBG Gave Us Our Marching Orders by Stephanie Jones. (Sept. 19)

“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg

2020 began with the death of my beloved father, former federal judge and civil rights champion Nathaniel R. Jones. And then the hits just kept coming, clouded in a never-ending deadly pandemic. It seems that almost every other Friday evening, we’re rocked with the news of loss of another of our great ones: John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman, CT Vivien, Joseph Lowery. And now, on the third Friday of September, we learned that our beloved champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg took flight.

In the hours after her death, those of us who have depended on her and love liberty and democracy have been distraught, feeling like we have lost our last hope. “This can’t be happening!” “We’re screwed!” were common refrains among my friends.

But just as my father would have encouraged me not to despair in this moment but to find a way through the darkness, I believe that Justice Ginsburg, too, would urge us not to give up but to keep moving forward. In fact, she already told us how to do it: step by step.

And as I’ve pondered on their lives and legacies and lessons, I’m beginning to see a glimmer that can help us find our way, one step at a time.

Justice Ginsburg’s death has pulled full focus onto the courts, which have been little spoken of in this campaign. It’s almost as if she took flight when she did in order to disrupt us at the most critical time.

And coming when it did – just weeks before the most pivotal election in our lifetimes – Justice Ginsburg’s death has slapped us in the face and reminded us of the stakes in this contest. RBG may no longer be on the Court, but she has put the courts on the ballot.

And that, no doubt, will energize and mobilize voters even more than before, which could spell trouble for Donald Trump. In 2016, too many Democrats voted (or didn’t vote at all) as if the courts didn’t matter while Republicans voted as if the courts were the ONLY thing that mattered. And, unfortunately, in this election cycle, the courts have gotten short shrift once again with little attention and even less discussion about the Trump-McConnell takeover of the courts and what it means. Now, suddenly, the courts are front and center and likely will be a major issue for the rest of the campaign.

And voters paying attention to the courts will be even more energized and determined to vote, which could spell trouble for Trump.

Trump has been running on the POSSIBILITY he’d get another Supreme Court nomination, not the reality, dangling promises that allowed his voters to project their own vision of an ideal justice onto the fuzzy screen he held up for them. Just last week, Trump released a list of potential nominees last week, a wishlist of mostly unsuitable conservative lawyers and judges with something for everyone in his base. But if he actually PICKS someone, one real person, that’s a whole different ballgame. That nominee will surely not please everyone in his base and they will be a clear and tangible target for the opposition.

Surely Trump can try to pump up his base with a red meat nominee, but in so doing, he’ll also pump up the Democrats who will have a clear and distinct in-the-flesh nominee to rally against.  If the nominee isn’t confirmed before the election, Trump will look weak. And if he and McConnell somehow manage to push through a confirmation in record time, they may win the battle but lose the war. A rushed confirmation process would further remind voters of the heavy-handed, unprincipled way this administration and its congressional lackeys have abused their power and provide even more incentive for voters to turn them out of office.

But it’s not certain that Trump would even get much help from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prior to the election. Although he couldn’t even wait a day after Justice Ginsburg’s passing to callously promise a vote on her replacement before the election, McConnell may not be too keen on trying to move a nomination so quickly. He’s in the middle of a campaign himself and several of his caucus members are in very tight races. He surely does NOT want to have to make them walk the plank.

If McConnell forces a vote before the election, he will virtually guarantee that Republicans lose the Senate and he loses his position as Majority Leader. And it’s not a certainty that he would even have the votes for confirmation (notice his statement said he would hold a vote, but didn’t promise to secure a confirmation) since several vulnerable senators in close races may not be willing to further risk their seats by voting for confirmation.

And that leaves Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary who is locked in a tight race in South Carolina, in an even worse position than either Trump or McConnell. The last thing Graham should want or need is to have leave the campaign trail where he needs to spend every waking moment fighting off Jaime Harrison to oversee a slapped together hearing featuring Kamala Harris who, unlike Graham, would probably relish the chance to strut her stuff at a confirmation hearing just before the election.

I doubt that Graham is eager for South Carolinians to witness him playing ringleader at a circus where Kamala “I made the last Supreme Court nominee cry” Harris dazzles the crowd with flips on the high wire while he slips and slides around in elephant dung trying to avoid getting run over by the clown car.

In considering all of this, it’s clear to me that we have a path forward, but only if we remain calm, thoughtful and strategic. And we must be guided by Justice Ginsburg’s words and take this one step at a time. One. Step. At. A. Time …

First, pressure must be put on individual senators and on McConnell not to hold a confirmation vote until after the election. This is doable, especially considering the number of Republican Senators who have in the past promised not to vote on a nominee until after the Inauguration exceeds the number of Senators needed to block confirmation. That’s leverage. Use it.

Second, but just as important, if not more so, we must continue – and, in fact, ramp up – our voter protection and empowerment efforts across the county. Turnout will not only affect what happens on November 3 – it will also affect everything that happens afterward.

But we can’t worry about what happens after November 3. All of our attention and energy needs to be laser-beam focused on the work we must do NOW. What we do in the next six weeks will determine everything that happens afterward.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave us her all but finally had to lay down her burden. It is now on us to pick it up and continue fighting for her, for all of us.

Thank you, Justice Ginsburg for all you did for us, for all you taught us, and for inspiring us to never ever give up. Go to your well-deserved rest. We’ll take it from here.

COVID Cases Rise, But Rate Slows Down

The Sylva Herald, By Dave Russell

Jackson County COVID-19 cases continue to climb, but the rate of the growth has slowed. From a peak of 29 cases reported on July 21, five were reported to the Jackson County Department of Public Health on Tuesday.

The county currently has 20 people isolating due to COVID-19 infection. That’s down from 39 last week, and down 80.7 percent from a peak of 104 on July 17.

As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the health department reported 621 cases among full-time residents, with 12,431 tests reported to the agency.

Last Tuesday, the health department reported 602 cases of full-time residents and 11,517 tests performed.

The county has had 121 cases per 10,000 residents, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. DHHS on Tuesday reported 186,887 cases and 3,111 deaths in the state, with 2,652,440 tests conducted.

Nationwide, cases numbered 6,537,627 and deaths 194,092 as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

The Jackson County Public Schools dashboard (, tracks positive cases among staff (currently zero) and students (currently three). Two cases have been reported at Smoky Mountain High School and one at Fairview Elementary as of Tuesday afternoon. The only active case is at SMHS.

Western Carolina University’s dashboard ( reports nine new cases the week of Sept. 7-13.

Last week the WCU dashboard showed 19 new student cases. Since July 1 there have been 111 cases among students, four among employees and five among sub-contractors.

WCU reports 70 students in self isolation/quarantine, including seven on campus. The total is down from 96 last week.

WCU cases do not stem from student parties, Director Of Health Services Pam Buchanan said.

The university reports only one cluster, when five or more related cases are found, on campus at Harrill Hall. 

“As the cases classified as Harrill Hall residents were identified through testing in Health Services, our department recognized a potential cluster and worked quickly to quarantine and test the other residents who were potentially exposed to the virus in the residence hall,” Buchanan said. “Quick identification of cases helped speed up the contact trace and identification of the cluster.” 

Testing is available for students and staff at two locations on campus.

“Currently we offer rapid antigen testing to our patient population through Health Services,” Buchanan said. “We have testing capabilities at both our main office located on campus in the Bird Building as well as testing capabilities at our satellite site at Madison Residence Hall. For students who might need isolation or quarantine after testing, having the testing capabilities at Madison, which is the designated isolation and quarantine facility, makes it easy for the patient to get the test and then get a room assignment in that building.”

The cost of a rapid test is $25, and the results are available in about 15 minutes. The rapid antigen test has about a 3.7 percent margin of false negative test values.

“For patients who have a negative rapid test, the FDA still recommends follow up with a Polymerase Chain Reaction molecular test,” Buchanan said. “The molecular test has a turnaround time of approximately 48 hours, and the cost is $100.”

Most major insurance plans pay for COVID testing at 100 percent, a legislated directive through the Families First Coronavirus Act, Buchanan said.

“The value of having rapid testing capabilities has been that quick turnaround has allowed us to isolate patients quickly when the test results are positive and allowed us to reach out to roommates and known close contacts in many cases the same day as the test result,” Buchanan said. “That has been key in helping contain the spread of the virus on campus.”

Students who are tested at other locations can self-report to Health Services.

“We can follow up with that student quickly and understand better any potential clusters,” Buchanan said. “Students who are in isolation and quarantine have been able to obtain medically related absence notifications, and our professors and instructors are very willing to work with students who are out of class to help them keep up in the classroom. Everyone is working hard to do their part to ensure our students are having a healthy, successful fall semester.”

Low-Interest Loans Available For Businesses Impacted By Covid. (Sept. 10)

Smoky Mountain News, written by Admin

The Southwestern Commission Council of Governments is pleased to announce the availability of low interest loans for small businesses and entrepreneurs adversely affected by COVID-19. Loans are available to qualifying applicants in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties.

The Commission was awarded $2 million in EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants to help with the creation and retention of jobs in local business and industry. Loans may have interest rates as low as one percent; credit restrictions apply. Business, nonprofits and governmental units interested in applying can visit

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and so many of our local businesses were severely impacted by the pandemic,” said Sarah Thompson, executive director, Southwestern Commission. “The hope is that these loans will help them rebound from these unprecedented times by providing the necessary resources to stay in business and create a rewarding future.”

“Once again, the Southwestern Commission is leading the way in providing flexible, innovative funding for the businesses that need it the most,” said Zeb Smathers, Mayor of the town of Canton. “I have no doubt that this financial partnership will not only stabilize our local economy, but prepare us for future growth.”

The U.S Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) established the funds to capitalize and administer Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs) to help small businesses and entrepreneurs who’ve been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The funds can be used for machinery and equipment, construction and renovations, land or property acquisition, and working capital. All projects must create economic activity through job creation and retention or community revitalization.

Applications are now being accepted. Visit to apply.

The Southwestern Commission Council of Governments serve as a technical, economic, and planning resource to local towns and counties in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain, the 17 municipalities therein, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The Southwestern Commission provides community, economic and workforce development, and services for older Americans. To learn more, visit

NC District 11 Hosts Candidates’ Town Halls

Hello District 11 Democrats, 

The North Carolina Democratic Party will host 8 Virtual Town Halls during the months of September and October. This includes a Supreme Court Town Hall specific to District 11 on October 15th at 7pm. 
Please attend our district’s town hall by signing up HERE.  Registration is required.
There will be statewide Council of State Town Halls over the next two months: 

If you would like to share any of these events on Facebook, you can see all of them here.

The NCDP is committed to supporting races up and down the ballot, and giving voters all the information they need to make informed decisions this November.

This is the most important election in modern history, and North Carolina voters are ready to put leaders on the Council of State and on the Supreme Court who will work for every day North Carolinians, not for special interests.

Thank you,
Kathy Sinclair, Chair
NC CD11 Democratic Party

Important Resources & Links:
1) NCDP Voter Resources:
2) Ballot Ready:
3) Voter Protection Hotline: 1-833-868-3462
4) NCDP Events on Facebook:
5) NCDP Mobilize Events:
6) NCDP Vote The Whole Slate Virtual Gala:


Jackson County Approves Plan To Return Students To Classroom. (Sept. 8)

Smoky Mountain News, Written by Admin

The Jackson County Board of Education voted to proceed with Phase 2 of the district’s reentry plan at their work session on Sept. 1.  Interim Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton recommended the change that allows students to return to their classrooms on an A/B schedule beginning Sept. 14.

The decision was primarily based on information and data from local health officials showing a flattening rate of COVID-19 infections in the area. “We’d only had two cases of an in-school student being identified, so we felt pretty comfortable going forward,” Tipton said.

The A/B schedule divides students into two groups that attend classes in-person on different days of the week to reduce the number of people in each classroom.  Families also have an option to keep children at home and participate in fully remote learning.

The district began the school year in August with two weeks of orientation on the A/B schedule followed by the current two weeks of remote learning for all students.

“I was very happy,” Tipton said of the two orientation weeks.  “All of the principals reported that the kids were responding tremendously well.”

During those two weeks, 63% of students attended school in-person on the A/B schedule and 37% chose fully remote learning.

Despite the successful opening, Tipton remains concerned about the toll the schedule is taking on the district’s nearly 300 teachers as well as parents who have been forced to become part-time teachers.

“Everybody from the safety part of it has been wonderful,” Tipton said.  “The part that is not as well as we would like is the super-load that we’ve put on our teachers and parents.  Public education was never meant to operate the way COVID has forced us to.”

Efforts to control the virus have also wreaked havoc on extracurricular programs.  Fall sports have been postponed for several months, however district leaders are hopeful that teams will eventually have an opportunity to play.

“We are fully committed to going with what the high school athletic association says,” Tipton stated.  “However, if we do have to close down a school or the district, we’ll come back together and revisit that and determine if it needs to change.”

While Tipton is optimistic about keeping students in school for the long-term, he maintains a realistic perspective on any eventual move to Phase 3 of the district’s plan.

“All Phase 3 does is change the number of people at an event,” Tipton said.  “So, I envision sadly that we’ll be with these restrictions for the rest of this school year.”

Even so, Tipton emphasized the responsibility everyone has in preventing another shutdown.

“We have the ability to keep schools open by following the guidelines of wearing a mask, staying apart, and keeping our hands clean,” Tipton said.  “That is something we control, so we must be vigilant and do it.”

Moe Davis For Congress Newsletter September 7, 2020


The first two debates are in the books and we are already looking ahead to Wednesday, when the third debate will be held at Southwestern Community College in Sylva. I hope you share my view that this race is about who can best serve the needs of the people of Western North Carolina. Who offers the policies that will allow us to grow and prosper?

After two debates, I think the answer is clear.


The President of the United States has gone too far.

According to an article in The Atlantic magazine that has been confirmed by multiple media outlets, President Trump has disparaged the troops who gave their lives for our country. As veterans and public servants, we cannot allow the words of our President to stand without forceful objection.

We served. We enlisted. We volunteered. We swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Our military service is not beholden to a single man, woman, or public official. Our service is sworn to the people and the laws of the United States of America, as outlined in the Constitution.

Some of you may call us brave heroes. We wish that you would not. The heroes are the men and women who laid down their lives in the field of battle. We served to honor them. We continue to honor them, not as “losers” and “suckers,” as the President said, but as the solemn guardians of our shores and, more importantly, our freedoms.

Make no mistake, my fellow Americans and North Carolinians, when a Commander in Chief desecrates the memory of the men and women who died protecting his freedom, it diminishes the value of every member of the military who has stood a post, here and abroad.

We served so Donald Trump could play golf on his bone spurs.

As candidates for federal office, we now stand for North Carolina so that the vicious and vile disregard for our state’s brave servicemen and women doesn’t put them in danger. We are running for office because we cannot stand silently while threats to our nation go unchecked and our military brothers and sisters go unprotected.

This is the United States of America. We honor the legacies of the devil dogs, midshipmen, airmen and Rangers who came before us and we wish to serve to protect those who stand post for us now.

His enablers amplify his dishonor. We’re here to stop them.


Are you a veteran supporting Col. Moe Davis for Congress? We want to hear from you! Send us a short selfie video to saying why you support Col. Davis and we might highlight it on our social media.

Col. Davis met with a group of veterans last Saturday in Burnsville and hopes to have more events with veterans throughout the 11th District. If you would like to host an event, or if you know of a good location to hold one, please let us know and we’ll try to arrange a meet-and-greet.


Want to watch Round 3, Moe vs. Madison? It will be live streamed here starting at 7 PM ET. It will also be available on Moe’s campaign Facebook and YouTube pages, and Moe’s personal Twitter fee


There were plenty of key moments in the first two debates. We are particularly partial to this one, where Col. Davis talked about his military record and the pride he felt in receiving the Legion of Merit, one of many honors he earned during a 25-year career in the Air Force.

His career wasn’t without controversy. It included the decision to resign his post as Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay after he was ordered to use evidence obtained by torture.

Not surprisingly, there were those who criticized Col. Davis for taking that stand. But there is no doubt who is on the right side of history. Torture was wrong then and it is wrong today.

And that’s what true character and integrity are all about. Col. Davis knew that it would cost him to make that decision. He did it anyway.

Because it was the right thing to do.


Leaders from Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth to North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper have stepped forward to endorse Col. Davis. And more than a dozen organizations have also “signed up” to support our campaign, representing everyone from veterans to teachers to the LGBTQIA community.

Thank you to the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence for joining VoteVets, the Sierra Club, North Carolina Association of Educators, National Organization of Women PAC, Equality NC, AFL-CIO Western North Carolina Central Labor Council, Common Defense, Moms Demand Action, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Progressive Turnout Project, Patriotic Millionaires and Serve America PAC in supporting Moe Davis for Congress.



Every Democrat (and independent and Republican) should go to the Polk County Democratic Party website and sign up for its newsletter. It’s packed with information on absentee ballots, signs, when and how to vote and more.

This month’s newsletter features a request for selfie videos on why you are a Democrat or what candidates you are supporting (like Col. Davis!) to be used in their virtual Fall Rally on Sept. 27. Submit videos to their dropbox by Sept. 19 and don’t forget to include your pet in the video if you can!


We are seeing Moe Davis signs go up all over Western North Carolina! Thanks to everyone who has ordered a yard sign or a 4 x 6 banner – we’ve had to place a double-order for new ones because we’ve had so many requests.

If you would like a sign, please check at your local county Democratic Party HQ. Signs should be available at Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania HQs. We also have signs available for pick-up in Avery, Black Mountain, Graham, Mars Hill, Swain, and Yancey. (Send an email to for info on those non-HQ pick-up locations.) And if you want to give another one to your friend, family member or neighbor, please consider a donation to help us defray the costs. We would really appreciate it!

Remember, you can place signs on your private property now, but you have to wait until Sept. 15 to put a sign on public property. (We wish our opponent would follow the law).


We have been urging voters to consider voting by absentee ballot this election cycle given the current COVID-19 pandemic. Now, North Carolina has made it even easier to apply. All you have to do to apply for an absentee ballot is go here to apply online. It takes just a minute or two to fill out the application.

Given delays at the post office, we would also urge you to do this sooner rather than later to get your ballot in on time. Remember, too, you can drop your ballot off at the Board of Elections rather than mail it.


Our opponent is good at yelling – my goodness, we all heard it on both nights of the debate. If volume was all that mattered …

But this race isn’t about who can shout. It’s about who can lead.

If you want a leader in Congress, help us get there. Please donate.

To subscribe to our weekly newsletter, please email
You may unsubscribe to stop receiving our emails.


Stay home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Mountain Strong

Joe Sam Queen Raleigh Report Newsletter (Sept. 4)

Plan to Vote

Voting begins today, September 4th. The election is underway and starting today the first ballots are being mailed to those who have already submitted their ballot requests.
In this election you have three distinct ways to vote. First, by Absentee ballot beginning today. Second, during one stop Early Voting or third by voting on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd.

How to Register

Requirements to Register:

  • Be a US Citizen.
  • Live in the county where you wish to register to vote for at least 30 days.
  • Be 18 years old by Election Day, November 3rd, 2020.
  • Not be serving a sentence for a felony conviction, including probation, parole or post-release supervision. Once all sentence conditions are served you may vote again.
Citizens registering to vote must offer proof of their identity and residence by showing any of the following documents with their name and address:
  • NC Driver’s License
  • Other photo identification issued by a government agency. Any government-issued photo ID is acceptable, provided that the card includes the voter’s name and address.
  • A copy of a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document showing the voter’s name and address.
  • A college/university photo ID card paired with proof of campus habitation.

How To Register:

You may register by any of the following ways anytime between now and October 9th*:

Voting Absentee by Mail (no restrictions)

You may vote by Absentee ballot any time from now until Election Day, November 3rd. You must be registered to vote in order to vote by Absentee. The deadline for requesting an Absentee ballot is 5 PM on Tuesday, October 27, 2020. Absentee ballots have to either be received by your Board of Elections or postmarked by Election Day to be counted.  (Voting by Mail in NC is Safe.)

Here are the steps to vote Absentee:


Early One-Stop Voting

(Vote & Register at Same Time)
In 2020, the in-person Early Voting period begins Thursday, October 15, and ends Saturday, October 31,
During Early Voting between Oct. 15 – Oct. 31*individuals who are not registered but are otherwise qualified to vote in a county may register in person at any of their counties’ Early Voting sites during the voting period. After registering, the newly registered voter can immediately vote at the same site on the same day.
including two Sunday opportunities.
During Early Voting, you may cast a ballot at any Early One-Stop Voting site in your county. If you are not registered or you need to modify your registration you can do it at that time. (During the General Election on November 3, you must vote at your assigned precinct.)

Election Day: Tuesday, November 3rd

Know Your Polling Place:

To find your polling place, use the link here. Once you’ve found your polling place, all you have left to do is be sure you’re registered and to vote.
Polling places are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Any voter in line at 7:30 p.m. will be able to vote. The busiest times tend to be early in the morning and just before the polls close. Avoid longer lines by voting at off-peak times, or plan ahead and vote absentee or during the Early Voting period.

Polling Places Will Be Safe:

Significant precautions will be made to protect voters and election workers against the transmission of COVID-19. These include:
  • Enforcing social distancing at polling places and Early Voting sites
  • Providing hand sanitizer and masks for voters and election workers who do not bring their own.
  • Providing gloves and face shields for election workers.
  • Erecting barriers between election workers and voters at check-in tables.
  • Providing single-use pens in counties that use hand-marked paper ballots and Q-tips for voters who use ballot-marking devices.
  • Frequently cleaning surfaces and equipment in polling places and Early Voting sites.
  • Recruiting poll workers who are less vulnerable to the virus.
For more information on how COVID-19 may impact your voting experience, visit the NC Voting and Coronavirus page.
(For additional information see on this site “Voting Information”.  And for Democratic Candidates go to “Candidates & Resources“.)

Joe Sam’s Notes

Voting is our highest civic honor and duty.
Make yourself a plan to vote. And help your friends and family.
Don’t leave anyone behind. We’re all in this together.
Until we speak again, stay safe. If you or a loved one is concerned about your health, the numbers for each of District 119’s Health Departments are listed below:
Haywood – (828) 452-6620
Jackson – (828) 586-8994
Swain – (828) 488-3198

Joe Sam Queen

Moe Davis Presents Reception with Congressman Seth Moulton & Moe Davis Sept. 3

This Thursday, join Col. Moe Davis, Congressman Seth Moulton, and hosts Ken Brame, Bob Deutsch, Rick Devereaux, Doreen Carroll, Arch Ramos, Don Swaby and Rich Wasch for a VIP virtual reception.

This virtual event will take place at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 3rd. Congressman and retired USMC Capt. Seth Moulton and Col. Moe Davis will discuss our strategy to return leadership and a spirit of service to Washington. This is a can’t miss event!  Get your tickets here!

Congressman and retired USMC Capt. Seth Moulton and Col. Moe Davis will discuss our strategy to return leadership and a spirit of service to Washington. This is a can’t miss event!

SCC students to host US House debate on Sept. 9

Over the past three campaign cycles, students in Dr. Bucky Dann’s Social Problems class at Southwestern Community College have questioned candidates vying for varying levels of state and local office.

At 7 p.m. on Sept. 9, Dr. Dann’s current students get to step on the national stage as they will guide the conversation in a debate featuring the two men contending for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives: Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis.

“I’m kind of mixed with emotions right now,” said Courtney Thomas, an SCC student who resides in Sylva. “I feel excited because I get to ask questions about topics I think are super-important right now. I’m also super-nervous about public speaking. But I’m mostly excited.”

SCC students spend the first few weeks of their class meetings researching and discussing issues of relevance in the race, and they develop their own questions on a variety of topics with the goal of illustrating the differences in the candidates’ points of view.

The congressional event will be the first of four debates hosted at Southwestern this fall. Following is a list of the other debates, dates and candidates who’ve been invited to appear:

  • Jackson County Board of Commissioners (Sept. 24) – Democrats Susan Bogardus (Dist. 3) and Mark Jones (Dist. 4); and Republicans Tom Stribling (Dist. 3) and Mark Letson (Dist. 4).
  • N.C. House of Representatives, Dist. 119 (Oct. 8) – Republican Mike Clampitt and Democrat Joe Sam Queen.
  • N.C. Senate, District 50 (Oct. 22) – Republican Kevin Corbin and Democrat Victoria Fox.

All debates start at 7 p.m.

Because the state remains in Phase 2 of Gov. Roy Cooper’s reopening plan, members of the public will not be able to physically attend the Sept. 9 debate that will be held on SCC’s Jackson Campus. Instead, SCC will provide live streaming video at

“From the time we started hosting these debates in 2014, our goal has been to provide an unbiased platform for candidates to express themselves to the public,” said Dr. Dann, a member of SCC’s faculty since 2006. “Every time we’ve gone through this process, our students have impressed me with how thoroughly they’ve researched the issues. Their questions generate thoughtful – if passionate – dialogue among the candidates, and I can already tell this year’s students will uphold that tradition.”

Considering the effect of COVID-19 on today’s political climate, student Donald Norton of Sylva said he’s looking forward to hearing how the candidates respond to questions posed by himself and his classmates.

“2020 has shown a lot of things about America and its underlying infrastructure, and there are a lot of weaknesses that got highlighted: How fragile the economy is sitting versus the unemployment rate,” Norton said. “(COVID) has played a pretty major impact on this year, so candidates need to find a way to step up to the problems that have arisen.”

For updates about SCC’s debates, check SCC‘s website, official social media pages (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) regularly.

Governor Roy Cooper has Virtual Reception on Sept. 9

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