Democratic candidate calls for ‘revolution’

Fifth district candidates Charlie Wallin, Josh Brannon and Jim Roberts take part in last week’s forum.

Democratic candidate calls for ‘revolution’
May 12
14:00 2016

The winner of the June 7 primary will take on  incumbent Virginia Foxx



A Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina is calling for “a political revolution.” Josh Brannon spoke at Forsyth County Democratic Party headquarters on Thursday, May 5, in a forum along with Jim Roberts and Charlie Wallin. They are vying to run against conservative incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, who was first elected in 2004 and is running for her seventh term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

They will be competing in the June 7 Democratic primary. The primary was established after a federal court struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts as too racially concen-trated in Districts 1 and 12. Most of the residents in the eastern part of Winston-Salem voted in District 12, which had a large black population and was represented by Alma Adams, an African-American. All congressional districts in North Carolina were reconfigured and a separate primary to vote on representation was ordered. The 5th Congressional District now contains all of Forsyth County.

Far from moderating their stands to appeal to the heavily Republican 5th District, the Democratic candidates presented progressive platforms in their openings for the forum, which was moderated by City Council Member Dan Besse.

Brannon, 38, a software developer from Watauga County who lost to Foxx in 2014 by 22 percent, said he stood with Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders on the issues. Brannon said there’s been “runaway inequality” over the past 25 years, later adding that he’d redistribute wealth by “taxing the ever-loving what have you” out of the top 1 percent.

“I think we need a political revolution regardless of who we have as president,” said Brannon.

Roberts, 71, an Army veteran and former pest control entrepreneur from Mount Airy, promised to create jobs, defend Social Security, prevent medical errors and stop “corporate domination” of public policy.  He railed against trade agreements like NAFTA, which he said cost millions of jobs, and the current Trans-Pacific Partnership, promising to “repeal those one-way agreements.”

“For 40 years, the aver-age American family and their way of life have been under assault from corporate interests,” said Roberts.  “Financial gain has replaced patriotism and love of people.”

Wallin, 44, an assistant food services director at Appalachian State University, talked about the high poverty in the city. He said average working people should be lawmakers, not “elites” like Foxx. He said she was out of touch and mentioned the multiple homes she owns.

“We have real issues and problems in this district that need to be addressed,” said Wallin.

“We need somebody-who’s serious and who wants to take on Virginia Foxx and wants to send her packing.”

On criminal justice reform, all three candidates denounced privately owned for-profit prisons. Roberts and Brannon talked about legalizing drugs. Brannon also discussed getting rid of minimum sentencing and three strikes laws, which he said disproportionately affect minorities. Wallin talked about increased mental health and substance abuse services and helping those already incarcerated.

Both Brannon and Roberts had a lot in common with Sanders on the issues, while Wallin took more moderate stands. On minimum wage, both Brannon and Roberts wanted to raise it to $15 an hour in a staggered fashion, while Wallin proposed a $10.95 minimum wage while talking about requiring sick and family leave time. On health care, both Brannon and Roberts support universal health care while Wallin proposed working with the Affordable Care Act but making businesses pay that cut worker hours to avoid giving them health insurance. On college debt, both Roberts and Brannon proposed free college tuition, while Wallin talked about restricting interest to 1 or 2 percent on student loans.

All the candidates acknowledge that it was an uphill battle to unseat Foxx. Brannon said he hoped to counter her superior fundraising by reaching voters through social media and in-person appearances.

Roberts said that he felt his business experience and emphasis on jobs would give him the edge.

Wallin said his work as party chair in the 5th District has taken him all over the district, letting him connect with voters and understand their needs.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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