Throughout much of our history, Triad area residents have been represented by at least two Congressmen. But now, thanks to various court rulings and legislative maneuverings, Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem will all fall into the newly formed 6th District, as well as all of Guilford County and much of Forsyth. The new alignment favors a Democrat, so Republican incumbent Mark Walker declined to seek another term. As a result, two Republicans and five Democrats filed for the open seat, and they will seek their party’s nomination in the March 3 primary. Two of the Democrats, Rhonda Foxx and Ed Hanes, appeared on Triad Today this past weekend, and what follows are highlights from our conversations.
Rhonda Foxx has a law degree from George Washington University. She served as Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Alma Adams, during which time she co-founded the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance. She also launched HBCU House, a platform that connects students to 21st-century career opportunities. Ms. Foxx currently practices law in Greensboro.
JL: Why are you running for Congress?
RF: I am running because after working for six different women in federal politics, I can tell you that Congress, which we call the People’s House, doesn’t look like the people, and our everyday issues and communities are being left behind, and I think that’s a grave injustice.
JL: What issues and problems do you want to work on once elected?
RF: Number one, I think we have to get real about fixing our criminal justice system. It’s leaving way too many folks behind. I am also passionate about lowering the cost of education and making that accessible for all. And I’m proud to be the only candidate who supports Medicare for All. We can no longer tolerate a system where one’s skin tone and zip code determine their outcomes.
JL: Since you mentioned criminal justice reform, how do you stand on decriminalizing marijuana when used in small amounts for recreational purposes?
RF: I am a champion for that. I have been through our broken criminal justice system. I have experienced it first-hand, and what it boils down to is we are processing more crimes than our system can handle. Our system was designed to make us safer, and (prosecuting) small amounts of marijuana is not making us safer.
JL: How about term limits? For or against?
RF: Against. It’s up to the people to issue their own term limits.
JL: What about your background and experience will make you an effective Congresswoman?
RF: We have this District right now for two years. We need someone who can hit the ground running on day one who knows how to get to the Appropriations room, knows how to get on key committees, and have the relationships. I have that.
Ed Hanes is a graduate of the UNC School of Law and was a Fulbright Scholar. He represented Forsyth County in the state House for six years, then joined the law firm of Kilpatrick, Townsend, and Stockton. Ed is president of the Hanes Group.
JL: Why are you running for Congress?
EH: I’m a father, I have two little girls, and I thought about the life I wanted them to live growing up. I also saw the open District and thought it would be a good time to put my name back in the hat.
JL: Because of Gerrymandering, a Democrat is now likely to win in this District, but what should be done about Gerrymandering after this election?
EH: Gerrymandering is one of the evils of what happens when certain parties get in power, that’s going to be Democrats sometimes, and sometimes Republicans. We need fair districting, but remember this new District resulted from what the courts termed as intentional disenfranchisement of African-American voters and Democrats in general. So we just need to move forward and be responsible.
JL: Once elected, what will be your priority issues?
EH: First of all, creating relationships across the aisle. Second, looking at social justice opportunities and criminal justice reform. In Raleigh, we were able to pass a wrongful expungement and exoneration bill, so that if you were exonerated for a crime, you won’t walk out with an arrest record. I also want to focus on education as we did in North Carolina, and assure that poor kids who score really high on their standardized tests are not subjugated to lower-level math and science classes because of their socio-economic standing. That was happening here where more affluent kids with lower scores were taking the place of poor kids.
JL: What about your background and experience will make you an effective Congressman?
EH: It’s my business background, it’s the background of working in a major law firm, having my own business, and understanding how to develop relationships. I have an ability to get things done, and I have proven that at the highest levels.
Jim Longworth is the host of Triad Today, airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11 a.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).