August 15, 2012
Commentary: ‘We the People’ politics


The decision to run for the Dare County District 1 Board of Commissioners seat as a write-in candidate was not an easy one to make but there are no other options.
Many supporters worked hard to gather signatures needed to get my name on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate. I was the Outer Banks Sentinel’s managing editor and had to stay arm's length from the political activity. My retirement was just days before the deadline to turn in the petitions. That final week, someone posted online that petitions should be mailed to me by June 29. Unfortunately, that was the deadline, so about 300 names didn’t reach me until the next day -- too late to be counted.
Disappointed, I talked to several friends about what should be my next move. A couple suggested I wait until the next cycle in two years and change my voter registration from unaffiliated to one of the two major parties so that I would have less work to do to get on the ballot. Others said that I should run as a write-in candidate in this cycle so that I could at least accomplish my first goal -- to ensure that this local election cycle includes discussion of the issues facing the county.

I have now collected the required 100 signatures to qualify as a write-in candidate on the ballot in the Nov. 6 election.
When the late Jesse Helms and Walter B. Jones, Sr. were in office, I routinely voted for both, because if someone had a problem, no matter who they were or what their party affiliation might be, a call to either of their offices was answered by someone quick to offer help in a meaningful and timely manner.
The two men were galaxies apart in their political leanings but almost identical in their dedication, appreciation, and representation of their constituents -- and that is what elected office in this country is supposed to be all about.
But times have changed and running as a party member is not an option for me. Party politics, particularly on the state and national level, has become just that -- campaigning to support a party, no matter what it espouses or which candidates it supports, and less about representing real people.
It has sunken to an “us against them” game that is destructive, undemocratic, and filled with fear mongers who gain their power by convincing voters that they are the only ones with The Answer. But while they pound their chests and claim to have The Answer, they fear and avoid The Question.
The Question is easy. Will this action (Answer) lead to a stronger, freer, and more united community and/or nation while acknowledging the diverse needs of those affected or benefit only a handful of squeaking wheels or large campaign contributors, and most importantly, is The Answer based on a full and truthful disclosure of facts?
That’s the real Question and sadly, we are still waiting for the real Answer.
I’ve been around politics for too long to think that anyone can be all things to all people. Rarely is there a solution that pleases and benefits all concerned. But often if the underlying facts are shared with the public, although they may not like the answer, they are more apt to accept it.
At the end of the day, electing folks should be about representing We the People -- a collection of diverse opinions, attitudes, needs and resources.
The growing number of unaffiliated voters seems to indicate that there is a new and different sort of party in the making.
The We the People Party has no platform, no rhetoric, no fear -- just expectations that all levels of government represent We the People. But the We the People Party should have a statement of rights.
We the People:

  • Have a right to engage in a participatory government where our voices are singularly and/or collectively heard.
  • Have a right to expect full disclosure and transparency. 
  • Have a right to disagree without malice.
  • Have a right to seek what is best for the county instead of a party.
  • And have a right to put residents’ well-being above politics.

And so, I will run as a write-in candidate so that I can attempt to inspire and contribute to the debate of issues based on fact instead of street talk.
I don’t pretend to have The Answer but I do know and understand The Question.
I look forward to an aggressive campaign and hope my fellow We the People Party members join me on this political journey.

(Sandy Semans Ross collected the required signatures to qualify as a write-in candidate for county commissioner in the Nov. 6 election.  She recently retired as managing editor of the Outer Banks Sentinel, is active in numerous community groups, and lives in Stumpy Point with her husband, Jay, who is a seafood wholesaler.

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