Six 2012 Election Issues by Tom Campbell

Published April 5, 2012

As candidates plan their final strategies for the May 8th Primary Elections the common refrain is their inability to raise money this election cycle. Donors and voters alike are tired of the trash and burn TV campaigns and carefully rehearsed talking points. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to once again hear real candidates talk in depth about the six real issues of this time?

Start with the economy and jobs. North Carolina still suffers more than most other states from the recession and it doesn’t matter who or what caused it. How does the candidate propose to put people to work, to help the small businesses that create most new jobs and to address the growing disparity between urban and rural areas of the state? A carefully designed economic development plan would impress voters.

Education is the solution to individual and societal success but a recent poll demonstrates widespread dissatisfaction with North Carolina’s public schools. Instead of getting mired in unproductive discussions about where we rank in funding, how many teachers and aides we employ, how much we pay them or other diversionary side issues, candidates should focus on education outcomes, what our children are learning to prepare for a successful life and tell us specifically how to reform the present system to improve those outcomes.

Candidates don’t talk much about healthcare but it is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Our current system threatens to bankrupt us, our national politicians are mired in partisan stagnation and we are desperate for solutions, especially for the mentally ill. A candidate with even small-step solutions could win big vote totals.

A discussion on infrastructure is overdue. Recent economic woes have further postponed attention to crumbling and congested roads, old and unhealthy water systems, outdated and overcrowded schools and other public facilities. Estimates now fix North Carolina’s costs to repair and update public infrastructure at more than 30 billion dollars. How and where are we to begin?

Four dollar a gallon gas dictates a discussion on energy, especially in a state projected to have 15 million people by 2030. Great research is being done in our state and there is mounting evidence that wind, natural gas and other resources might be available to provide some solutions. We want a candidate who can fix one eye clearly on preserving our environment while brokering acceptable solutions for new energy resources.

Which leads us to the single, most important factor in the 2012 elections: leadership. North Carolina is at a crossroads, longing to once again become the “Dixie Dynamo” we once believed ourselves to be. We are a state blessed with wonderful natural resources, clever and hardworking people and sufficient wealth needed for success. We are looking for the leader or leaders to share a vision for a better tomorrow, with practical plans that start today to get us there. We don’t demand perfection so much as ethical, honorable people who understand servant leadership.

Our advice would be to fire the high-priced campaign consultants, pollsters and ad-makers. Forget opposition research and smear campaigns against other candidates. Instead, get on the road and talk with people. Use today’s social media, not just as fundraising vehicles, but to present insights on issues that really matter. The right candidate will energize voters and win at the polls.