Last Sunday afternoon the New Hanover County League of Women Voters sponsored an opportunity for residents to meet and speak with their elected representatives. The New Hanover Government Center is situated in what used to be an indoor shopping mall and tables were set up in the open area for each representative. Representatives from Pender and Brunswick County attended, as did Johnathan Barfield, Chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners. I'd estimate there were 300+ people attending.
After very brief opening remarks by Barfield and our Congressman Mike McIntyre, people lined up to speak with whomever they wished to speak.
The following are my impressions and observations:
Our newly elected Republican State Senator Thom Goolsby chose not to attend. Our re-elected Republican Rep Carolyn Justice also chose not to attend. The unattended tables set up for them and the emptiness surrounding their prominently displayed names was duly noted and people were unhappy.
Giving credit where credit is due, McIntyre stood the entire time and had a staff person standing next to him taking names and notes on his constituents concerns. He was pleasant, patient, courteous and attentive.
We waited about an hour in line to speak with McIntyre. We wanted to speak with him about the inequity of taxing the wealthy less than working people...specifically the capital gains tax (15% max) versus taxes on wages and other "ordinary income" being at 25% or more on an AGI of $34K or more. His comment was that he hadn't paid attention to the subject and would look into it. We'll see.
People standing in line were discussing their issues with those around them. The topics were many and varied...ranging from perceptions of crummy postal service to personal matters, but a constant theme was unemployment and the economy.
As an aside, the Sheriffs office staffed the meeting and McIntyre had two armed and armor-plated deputies standing within 10 feet of him at all times. Smart. Fortunately, the crowd was orderly and courteous.
The gentleman standing in line ahead of us was horrified when he learned our topic. He gets most of his income from Capital Gains and dividends and categorically stated that he didn't care that others paid more tax. He was a "conservative."