The first candidate event in eastern Wake County was at an unlikely venue, with unlikely hosts: Malaby’s Crossings Missionary Baptist Church members invited Wake County candidates running in the Nov. 4 election to an informal meet and greet last Wednesday night.
It was the third night of the church’s revival, where they invite other churches to their Knightdale location and worship together. Wake county judicial, state House and U.S. Congress candidates were all invited to any of the three nights to worship, but came Wednesday night for a more political event.
Audrey Newsome, a member of Malaby’s Church and the organizer of the event, said the church tries to encourage its members to register to vote and participate in the voting process.
The church focuses on younger voters but doesn’t support specific candidates.
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“We try not to mix it because politics are kind of touchy and so is religion,” Newsome said.
The church invited all candidates from all races to the event and candidates representing the eastern part of the county were not in high attendance.
Notably absent from Malaby’s forum were N.C House District 35 candidates, Democrat Brian Mountcastle and incumbent Republican Chris Malone.
According to disclosure reports filed in July with the State Board of Elections, though, Malone has been busy raising money for his campaign.
His report shows he’s raised over $20,000 since May, with large donations coming from fellow candidates’s campaigns including Smithfield’s Leo Daughtry ($4,000) and Rocky Mount’s Jeff Collins ($5,000).
In addition to fundraising, Malone said he’s been spending most of his weekends going door-to-door. From here on out, he said, continuing to raise money and visit with citizens are his focus. He said he was thinking of holding some sort of event, but nothing is set in stone.
Mountcastle has only collected a little over $2,700, mostly from individuals.
Cary resident challenges Holding
U.S. House Rep. George Holding was also absent, but his opponent, Cary resident Brenda Cleary attended the forum.
Cleary is a former AARP Public Policy director and is running as a Democrat.
“I think George Holding is a fine gentleman but I dont think he's right … he's out of touch with this district,” Cleary said. She spent time visiting with residents in her district, which includes Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon and locations in eight other counties.
Poverty, she said, is a major problem as residents are still trying to recover from the economic depression.
“There are places that are flourishing and there are places that still haven’t recovered to the place they were in 2008,” she said. “Some people say 'Well they should pull themselves up by the bootstraps,' but what I always say to that (is) what if there are no boots and there are no straps because there are no jobs?”
Cleary wasn’t always a Democrat. She grew up in a Republican family and identified as such through college.
Eventually, she said, she realized she was not in tune with Republican ideals. Even so, she said her and Holding ultimately want some of the same things. One thing they had in common was reducing the deficit.
But it’s not in the best interest of constituents to get rid of certain social safety nets, including affordable health care, Cleary said.
“District 13... is a lot of rural areas and high poverty,” she said. “People like that need safety programs and Holding focuses on keeping the defecit in check and I want to do that too, but you have to serve the people.”
Cleary said some of her priorities are finding a way to keep improving the Affordable Care Act and other health care iniatives, improve education and focus on senior citizens’ well-being.