Over the last eight years, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx has slaughtered a slew of Democrats who have challenged her for her Fifth District seat.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board Member Elisabeth Motsinger is the latest Democrat standing between Foxx and re-election, and she has a sense that many in the largely Republican Fifth District want a change.
“I think things are going really well,” Motsinger said of her campaign. “ I think there’s a lot of excitement throughout the district about the campaign. Everywhere we go, people are enthusiastic.”
Although she admits she’s not a “natural politician,” Motsinger says the time she has spent on the Board of Education has taught her many valuable lessons that would help her in Congress.
“By being on the school board for six years, I have certainly learned to work with people,” she stated. “…I’ve learned that there are unintended consequences to decisions, so you have to be thoughtful about how the choices you make will affect everyone.”
Motsinger said children, marginalized children in particular, are one of the main reasons why she’s running for Congress.
“The issues facing poor children cannot be solved in public schools alone,” she remarked. “If I thought I could solve it all (locally), I’d have no reason to run for Congress. If I thought I could handle it at the local level, I would.”
Many in the community, however, have criticized the School Board for allowing poor children, particularly minority ones, to fall through the cracks. Motsinger and her fellow School Board members have also been accused of pushing bond referendums that have largely ignored existing inner-city schools in favor of new ones in the suburbs.
If elected, Motsinger said she will also make environmental conservation a priority.
“Protecting our environment, it’s really funny that that’s considered a progressive issue, because we all have to live on this beautiful planet,” she commented. “There’s nothing more conservative than conserving the planet.”
Motsinger’s stance on environmental issues recently became a target for the Foxx campaign, which sent out a mailer slamming Motsinger for her arrest during a protest opposing the controversial Keystone oil pipeline. The Foxx flier labeled Motsinger “out of touch” for opposing the pipeline at a time when gas prices are at a near-record high.
Motsinger believes the mailers are a good sign for her campaign.
“(Foxx) is responding like she is in campaign mode,” she said. “She did not send out a mailer for any other campaign, so this is a first.”
Regardless of what comes next, Motsinger says she will not resort to insulting her opponent.
“I believe that it is reasonable and responsible for us to directly quote Mrs. Foxx … and say how she has voted on something,” she remarked. “It is not our job to interpret what that means. We assume voters are capable of doing that themselves.”
Despite a redistricting plan that has moved some of Democrat Rep. Mel Watt’s former 12th District constituents into the Fifth District, the district, which includes most of Forsyth and all or parts of 11 surrounding counties, remains largely Republican. Motsinger, a mother of three, believes she can win over Republicans. She says many have already voiced their support for her.
Among them is Landon Baucom, a 21-year-old political science major at Wake Forest University. The registered Republican said he was disenchanted with Rep. Foxx’s highly publicized remarks about college loans. Foxx, chair of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, was quoted as saying she had “no tolerance” for people who graduate from college with debt, because “there’s no need for that.”
Baucom said Motsinger’s strong support for education made him take a closer look, and he liked what he saw, so much so that he signed up to be a Motsinger campaign volunteer.
“When you have someone who’s committed to the future through empowering young people to compete in an incredibly complex global economy, that just speaks to me,” commented Baucom, the oldest of four children.
This will be the first time that Baucom is old enough to vote in a presidential election, and he said the elevated stakes make working with the Motsinger campaign even more engaging.
“It gives me a little bit more incentive to not only vote, but get involved because I hear so many people complain about politics,” he said. “If you’re going to complain about the situation, you have to be the change you want to see. You have to go and make your voice heard.”
If elected, Motsinger said she will speak for all people in the district, regardless of their political affiliation.
“My goal is to represent the people of the Fifth District, all of them, those who vote for me, and those who vote for my opponent,” she said. “When I’m elected, I won’t be making distinctions between my supporters and other voters. I’ll be representing everyone and most importantly, the children because it’s their future.”
The office of Rep. Foxx was contacted for this story, but an interview with Foxx was not forthcoming by press time on Tuesday.
For more information about Motsinger, visit http://www.nc5th.us” www.nc5th.us.