Elections and a kind heart

Published January 14, 2016

By Becki Gray

by Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation and NC SPIN panelist, January 14, 2016.

I was catching up with my favorite 8-year-old recently, and the conversation turned, as so many do these days, to the election. 

No, not the U.S. presidential election, or the governor’s race, or the 170 General Assembly seats that will be selected in 2016. There had been a student council election at her charter school, and she had some interesting thoughts to share.

My granddaughter was nominated to represent her third-grade class in the council. She lost, explaining, “I think the only person who voted for me was me.” Her classmate Penelope won the seat. How? “People liked her. She has a kind heart.”

My granddaughter went on to tell me who was elected president and the different officers of the student council. Some candidates she supported won; some didn’t. When I asked her why she supported one candidate, she said she knew the guy’s sister. 

She supported another because he seemed like a nice person — “he must have a kind heart,” she speculated. And she supported a third because she liked the candidate’s speech and her posters were colorful. 

All in all, she seemed satisfied with the election results and is optimistic about new leadership at her school. 

She was disappointed that she didn’t win, but she did like that everyone who voted got a rainbow sticker. She showed me hers with a smile. 

With five more years to go at this school, she plans to run again. This was her first election, and she learned a lot. She’ll do things differently next time. 

She’ll explain better how to be the best representative for her class. She won’t be mean to anyone, and she’ll make sure they all know she has a kind heart. 

Her campaign platform? She’ll work to make her class the top class in the school. She’ll make them safer by getting additional supplies in the first-aid kit. And she’ll get them everything on their wish list. 

I came away from this conversation with insight about our upcoming elections. We want our leaders to have kind hearts; safety is an important issue; advertising works; and personal connections matter. Some people will promise anything to get elected. The right to vote makes us feel good. Good candidates are essential for good outcomes.

Well-informed candidates are better candidates. In this upcoming election, North Carolina’s candidates face tough challenges and difficult questions. 

What does a responsible state budget look like? What is fair taxation? What is the best way to encourage economic growth and job creation? Are property rights secure? How do we ensure every child gets a good education and has every opportunity to succeed? How are long-term transportation and infrastructure needs best addressed? Can North Carolina be First in Freedom? 

Running for office can be overwhelming. Where can candidates go for the best ideas to tackle these tough questions? As we’ve done every election cycle since 2008, the John Locke Foundation is providing candidates information about public policy through educational forums and workshops — incumbents, first-timers, or anyone who may be interested in running later. (Access video of our Jan. 8 forum here.)

We offer solutions and ideas based on facts and steeped in data. But we also understand public policy is more than numbers, graphs, and charts, that real people and real families are affected.

Whether it’s the entrepreneur worried about regulations, a student looking for the education that best fits his needs, or the taxpayer expecting accountability and fiscal responsibility — we have the ideas to ensure North Carolinians have the freedom to pursue their dreams. 

We understand that having a kind heart means unleashing every individual’s potential. And a kind heart, as my favorite 8-year-old observed, is what we want our leaders to have. If you’re interested in our candidate education forums, give me a call at (919) 828-3876.