Civic

Local candidates meet with black community leaders

Rev. Scott Elliott from Agape Outreach was in attendance.

Hendersonville – State and local political candidates spoke about their platforms during a voter registration event in Hendersonville. Debbie Roundtree, a candidate for the Henderson County Commission – District 2, hosted the event at St. Paul Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Hendersonville. The Wednesday, October 7th event was attended by representatives from approximately 15 Black churches in Henderson and Transylvania counties. 

A fourth-generation Hendersonville native, Roundtree is the second vice president of the Henderson County NAACP Chapter 5477, a member of the Hendersonville Tree Board, and founder of Back to School Fest Inc., an annual event to support Hendersonville children with school supplies.

In addition to Roundtree, Democrat Josh Remillard, NC House District 117 candidate; and Democrat Moe Davis, NC Congressional 11th District candidate attended and spoke. Each candidate was given 10 minutes to speak. The event was titled, “The Main Event: The Importance of Voting and Voter’s Registration and Candidate Talk.”

The congressional hopefuls spoke on topics at the top of voter’s minds anticipating the November election, focusing on COVID-19 and police relations.

Voter Tony Strickland asked the candidates how they plan to ensure that small businesses get financial assistance to keep afloat. Strickland expressed disdain that the majority of relief funds in the past months have gone to larger businesses that may need the money less than mom-and-pop establishments. Davis discussed his support of the federal HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act), a stimulation package designed to aid small businesses and families.  

Davis and Remillard emphasized that COVID-19 is more than a health pandemic; it is a pandemic on small businesses, and therefore additional attention and assistance are needed to help small businesses stay afloat. The candidates hope to bring more jobs to Western North Carolina if elected.

(From left to right) candidates Josh Remillard, Debbie Roundtree, and Moe Davis. NC congress candidate Josh Remillard speaks to  attendees. Photo by Yvette Freeman, Red Angle Photography.
(From left to right) candidates Josh Remillard, Debbie Roundtree, and Moe Davis. NC congress candidate Josh Remillard speaks to attendees.

The conversation then transitioned to a discussion on police relations. Again, voter Strickland spoke about his experience being unjustly incarcerated. He is against the “defund the police” movement, and said that the majority of police are good, there are just “rat turds” within the police force that need to be rooted out. Communities need the police, stressed Strickland, because there will be no one else for people to call when they need help. He suggested more training and community relations.

Davis and Remillard echoed Strickland’s sentiments, calling for police reform through an increase in training, community relations, and the need for change in how the force responds to certain matters.

For instance, calls regarding mental health issues should be handled by members of the force who are specifically tasked with those types of calls/matters, vocalized by Remillard and later restated by Davis. Davis said that it would be more effective to have police officers respond to calls specifically related to crime, rather than other issues better handled by specifically trained responders.

Davis also stated that the ‘Defund the Police’ movement was a “mistake.” He reflected that defunding precincts is the wrong way to incite positive change and has been a detriment to police reform.

Remillard also spoke about de-escalation training as a former bouncer. He stated that all officers need to be better trained in de-escalation techniques to resolve issues calmly and effectively to prevent the need for deadly force.

Attendee Mary Rather concluded the discussion by encouraging voter turnout and giving instructions on how to motivate others to vote. For more information anticipating Election Day, go to https://www.hendersoncountync.gov/elections (Henderson County) and https://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/election/default.aspx (Buncombe County).