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The Speech I Meant To Give

Last Saturday the Democratic Precinct Officers invited the Commissioner candidates to their meeting. Not gonna lie y'all, I went completely down a rabbit hole, it was a minor disaster... thankfully it was a friendly crowd, everyone was very kind.

Anyway, here is what i meant to say!


"Hey y’all ,

I am Nancy Beth Weaver and I am running for county commissioner. 

Thank you so much for inviting us here today to talk about how we can work together to win in November. 

So here goes : ) y’all be gentle now, I’m not much of a public speaker !  

Sometimes when I’m trying to talk, my tongue gets all tangled up in my teeth and it's just plain awful !  

So … my platform??? 

My platform is squarely centered on the folks who live and work here.  We live in,  arguably, the most uniquely beautiful place in the entire world. 


We have built an amazing model of tourism, and the people who come to visit, move here, build second homes and retirement homes are by and large absolutely lovely people who enrich this place ! 


 Please Please don’t dismiss me as a  nativist.  


I know everyone thinks this about where they live… but Ashe County is truly special.  These mountains are 480 million years old… the Appalachian chain goes from Georgia all the way into Ireland and Scotland. 

 There is a mineral deposit, a Serpentine chain,  that runs from through here  to where our ancestors came from. This place y’all… it's not just a place, it grabs you and holds on to you. We do truly belong to this place.  


Ashe County Belongs to The People Who Belong To Ashe County.

 The people who live and work and raise young’uns and worship and play and love here. 


The tourism industry brought in tons of construction jobs, restaurant jobs… 

It looked good on paper, but it has served to starve out the folks who live here. 


And these are the people who are being left behind, pushed out… sent off the mountain for jobs, lost to addiction and poverty. 

Every person who is forced to leave here takes something with them. Every person who falls victim to substance misuse … lord… I don't know how to explain that the generational knowledge of this place is being lost. And it is a terrible loss. It is reducing us… it makes us less with every passing day. 



Horribly addictive drugs for many years were being pushed on our people from doctors offices and emergency departments all over the country… but specifically targeted Ashe County and places like us.


This has been admitted to by pharmaceutical companies  Proven in lawsuits and medical studies. It is fact !!


You know where it's NOT being recognized ? Here… here in good old Ashe County. 


AND THEN .. if that wasn’t bad enough y’all.


They brought that horrible tv show in here to showcase the dumb hillbillies.  No knock raids threatening to shoot a kid with their hand in a potato chip bag, because he missed a court date for trespassing.


Telling the whole country that we are stupid rednecks.

Propagating the fallacy that addiction, substance misuse is a moral failing. 


We don’t even ALLOW medical care for people who are forced to detox in jail 


There's a lot of money still being made out of the opioid crisis.  

I saw Barbara Kingsolver speak about her book Demon Copperhead up in Abingdon last year. She said “y’all the thing keeping me up at night is that the opioid money is never going to reach the people that have been affected by the substance misuse crisis”  


It’s keeping me up at night too. 



So please, if y’all can find a little grace in your hearts for me. I know it may seem like I am over focused on our folks who belong to these mountains. 


I just see generations of hurt in their eyes.  


From the chestnut and old growth forest removal and the Smethport extract plant that bought bark for tannin,  to the more recent predatory purchasing of family farms and the drugs that have stolen 3 generations of mountaineers from us… 

If you can find a family in Ashe County that hasn’t been touched by substance misuse… well good on you.. I haven’t run across one lately.


We have been the product for a very long time. 

And I think it's time we stood up to fix it. 


Jane Hicks, East Tennessee poet who coined the term Cosmic Possum, said

The possum is the perfect symbol of my beloved Appalachia: underappreciated, misunderstood, and the ultimate survivor in the face of all manners of predation.’

 

We will survive this predation too , but it’s going to take us all working together to put the people who have been left behind back up in front as the proud mountaineers we have always been !  

I believe its not too late 

I intend to work for ALL of Ashe County.

 When the river gets up all the canoes float a little higher : )  


And then there's Jobs… Jobs that pay a living wage !  I was stunned to read this:


Quote  “ The center starts teachers at $10 per hour and pays credentialed teachers $11 per hour. Teachers with an associate degree start at $15, a bachelor’s degree starts at $18, and a master’s starts at $23” Rebecca Rash, Director of Ashe Developmental Day School. 


Are we serious?  Geez y’all 



Ohhhhh and don't even get me started on corporate welfare !! 



Why in the heck are these corporations not subsidizing childcare ?

why are we asking mamas who are working in service industry jobs  to come up with hundreds of dollars a month so their children can be safe while they work? 


Honestly, IMO, corporations should provide free child care onsite and promote happier families.  

Might as well dream big huh? 


I have never understood  the reason we can’t have good jobs here. 


 It used to be that if  you went up north and said you were from Ashe County NC you were just hired automatically. Just ask some of the generation that went north for jobs after WWII.  Our work ethic and character were well known. Seems like we’ve always sent our workforce away instead of fostering employment here. 



  Twenty five years ago, the data management company that my husband worked for wanted to locate in Ashe. The starting salary was around $10 and I was told that having a salary that high would be too much competition for our other employers and would put our Tier 1 economic status in jeopardy.  (We are now classified as a Tier 2 county) 


Here's the thing, our folks who live,work and raise families here are the ones who are trying to live below  poverty level.



 Is this so we can be a ready and hungry workforce for the folks controlling the assets?  


Cynical?

I reckon I probably am.   But who is profiting  from cheap labor?


 It’s been working this way for an awfully long time and it’s hard to believe it is accidental. 



 What the heck y’all ? Why can my son walk into a job starting at 15 dollars an hour in Onslow county in 2015 , and make well  over $30 now … but here $9 is high pay.. Walmart will start you at 15, but they don’t give very many enough hours for that to make a difference. And you might find , as my high school junior granddaughter just learned, they don’t accept doctors notes. So if you have the flu, but you only have 3 hours of personal leave time built up, then its too bad so sad, you no longer have a job. 

Somebody is making some money here and it's not the workers. Someone… several someones…  in this county are  propping this model up and thats a corruption that needs to be rooted out.



Housing, Child Care, Fully funded public schools,

I could go on and on, but y’all know the issues better than I do and I’m sure you’ve heard enough of my rattling on. 

 

So here's my campaign promise.  

I will always work for the people who live and work in Ashe County, The people who love Ashe County 

And if you’ll help me get elected, I believe together we can make this a better place to live for all of us !  

One more thing  I would like to ask you , 


Whose Ashe County is this anyway??

It is Our Ashe County !!! 

Let's do this ! "


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I loved your heart when I first met you, and now that I know you, believe you are just the tonic our community needs right now. You have my respect and my vote. ❤️

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