So, yesterday while Jimmy was home, we decided to go out and do the early voting thing. With him being on the road and having no guarantee of the days he'd be home, I was a bit concerned he might not be here for the actual election day. Off we go to the closest polling place for us, the recreation center for Hope Mills. It's busy when we arrive, people lined up half way along one side of the building... not a problem, it's moving pretty quickly.
While we wait in line we are approached by a few of the *candidates* who are doing some last minute campaigning, again, not a problem. They aren't overly aggressive and are staying behind the *no campaigning past this point* signs all across the front of the building. Each candidate offers us a card with the basics of their platform and some information they feel us voters need to know. Thus begins the part where I'm kinda having an issue.
Three out of the four cards I'm holding in my hand and trying to read each give us, the voters information about their church/religious affiliation. I look at Jimmy and hold my thumb on the card under the words I want him to make sure he sees. Before I could say anything, Jimmy shows me where one of them has listed his affiliation with the Mason's. And that he's a 32nd Degree Mason.
Here's where I begin to have a bit more of a problem... bear with me, it's kinda long winded.
I fully understand I am living in the South, right smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. I also understand it is very important for everyone who lives in the South/Bible Belt to broadcast their religious preferences and church affiliation. Where I feel the problem is, at least for me, is that there is no place at all that is appropriate for a candidate to try to influence his constituents with information about his faith. And I will be honest, when I saw the information these candidates shared about which church they belong to, I decided to not vote for them. Up until that point, I *may* have been convinced of their stance on some of the issues they were campaigning about. But I feel (and please understand, I DO NOT expect anyone to agree with me. This is MY personal opinion and nothing more) very strongly about the separation of church and state and believe wholly in the fact that religion of ANY kind has absolutely NO place in politics.
As the line continued to move closer to the entrance to the building, there were 3 candidates campaigning for Cumberland County (the county we live in) School Board. They were spaced far enough apart, that they didn't step on each others toes as they were speaking. I listened to what they were saying, and each had a pretty good stance on the things that needed to be addressed in the school systems here in our county.
However, I asked all three of them point blank the very same question. *What is your position on bullying?* Two of the three candidates made me feel they were giving me the answer they thought I wanted to hear in order to secure my vote. Neither was very clear and when I attempted to pin them down on specifics, I was pretty much shuffled along so they could speak to the next person in line behind me. All except one man...
Morrie Turner actually took the time to *listen* to my question, and then he asked me questions in order to be clear on what I was asking. On the card he had given me it clearly stated he has a NO TOLERANCE policy when it comes to bullying of any kind. When I asked him to please clarify his position on bullying because of race or religion, and sexual orientation, he again stated there was no difference in the type of bullying, he will accept NO bullying what so ever. When I asked him about his educators possibly looking the other way or even blaming the victim because the victim chose to dress differently, or maybe they were part of the smart kids. He again said NO BULLYING... PERIOD!
Ok, I'm not some dolt with my head buried in the sand, I know policies are difficult to enforce. I know many times children are shuffled aside for one reason or another. I also know about the good old boy gang... my Dad and Uncles were part of this group all throughout my life. And again, maybe this man was just giving me what I needed in order to vote for him. But I have to tell you...this man, Morrie Turner gave me the confidence the other two candidates could not. He didn't flash his church/religious affiliation nor his Mason's degree, he didn't shuffle me along when he might have felt my questions a little too hot to handle. He acted in what is my idea of a true candidate who actually wants to connect with his constituents.
Was I fooled? Possibly. Do I care? Maybe, I can't really say. I don't have children or grandchildren in the public school system here in Cumberland County (yet). I did vote for Morrie Turner based on nothing more than his willingness to actually have a conversation with me and answer to the best of his ability the questions I asked of him. I honestly know nothing about him and here is where I made my one big mistake... I did NOT research the local candidates as much as I should have before I went to vote. Will Morrie Turner win his seat on the school board? I don't know, but I can honestly say I feel he is the one I would want to have backing my children or grandchildren when it comes to being bullied...