2023 Seen on the Trail

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My Police Ride Along

by: Justin Herbe, Fayetteville City Council District 5 Candidate

Recent publicity around negative police encounters has led to dramatically increased scrutiny of police departments in the U.S. That scrutiny has forced change in the way Policing is conducted. We need change, but not always. Since this increased scrutiny has occurred the Police Force garners little to no respect from the community while trying to improve with an Officer population that is young, inexperienced, and inundated with paperwork. Fayetteville needs non-biased law enforcement, and in order to accomplish this, the city needs Officers on the streets…Veteran Officers, not just Rookies straight out of the Police Academy.

I volunteered for a Police Ride Along so I could experience firsthand the situations that Officers and the Community deal with on a daily basis.  I had some pre-conceived notions of racial profiling, targeting homeless, and some big gruff bullying and intimidating Officers in my mind before I signed up, and I wanted to see if those ideas held weight or if our Police Force was non-biased and racially blind like they say they are. 

The night started out with foreboding thunder clouds moving towards the sector that we would be patrolling. The Central District encompasses a large area in the middle of the city, known for drugs, guns, and prostitution. It runs from Bonnie Doone in the North abutting Ft. Liberty, west to Skibo rd., heading east and south into Murray Hill, Haymount, and farther south into Douglas Byrd and Lakedale.  

The first stop was a triggered building alarm. By the time we arrived, the rain clouds were directly above us and it began to pour. We were drenched within seconds and began searching the perimeter of the building and determined it had probably been a weather-related issue that caused the alarm to get triggered. We searched high and low for any points of entry or broken windows and none were found. We jumped back into the squad car, turned off the A/C because being wet it quickly got cold. I was really hoping the entire night would not be like this.

Throughout the storm we continued the street patrol where we scanned license plates, checked registrations, and validated current driver’s licenses all from the comfort of the vehicle using the hood mounted cameras.  While driving on Raeford Rd., we noticed a car driving with its lights out.  The Officer turned his car around, began following the car into Haymount, scanned the license plates, noticed they were expired, and flashed the lights. He stopped the car, approached the driver, politely asked for her license, returned to his vehicle and ran the license through the computer systems. She already had a ticket for the registration and a court date so he decided not to give her another one, which would have compounded the bad situation, and he also decided just to give a warning for the headlights being off. The Officer told me he usually gives warnings for nearly all minor infractions. But this warning began what I will call a paper trail of documents throughout the night that will engulf the quiet moments in-between calls. The Officer will quite possibly miss opportunities where positive engagements could have been conducted. The traffic stop report was the easiest report of all to fill out but still took 10-15 minutes.

We drove around a little more and found some unsheltered individuals hanging around an abandoned Circle K. We pulled up, exited our vehicle, and began talking to the individuals. The three individuals who were standing there looked like they were living outside, and carrying everything that belonged to them. The Officer told them about the Day Resource Center that was now open at 128 King St., they were excited to hear this because they had not known about it. They even asked if there were any counseling services available at the Center. The conversation was amicable, I got to hear more about the homeless situation, and they learned about the resources at the Day Center.  It lasted about 15 minutes, but the paperwork took nearly twice that. One field contact sheet for each individual that he spoke with took 10 minutes to write out and link the individuals’ names together in the system. We reviewed their rap sheets and saw a long history of arrests, some more serious than others. It was concerning because I sympathized with them and could tell they needed help, but I did not know what kind of help they really needed. Drug counseling, maybe mental health counseling, just somewhere to go to get out of the rain would have easily helped them. But the Police are not a taxi service, nor do I want them to be.

We began the patrol again by driving through the back side of Wal-mart maybe trying to make another positive engagement where we could let more homeless know about the Day Resource Center and what it offers. The situation changed quickly…as we came from behind Wal-Mart, City Dispatch alerted us that there was a 9-1-1 call coming from the Wal-Mart parking lot. She said that a man called asking for help, that he was being chased by five individuals wearing hooded sweatshirts and armed with guns. The Police Officer, knowing I had previous military experience, had told me early this night that if there was ever a reason I might need to assist and get involved to do so. I acted like it was no big deal and said I could help out, but this wasn’t what I had in mind!!!

As we were searching for the store that the individual was being chased from, the individual actually saw us first and ran up to our car. He looked petrified, literally fearing for his life… I was wishing I had chosen to conduct a ride with somebody else that had backup or maybe another way to interdict like a K-9 unit before it coming down to a shoot-out in the O-K Corral. The Officer stepped out and asked the man if he was ok. He replied he was not… he was scared, and needed help. Obviously he needed help! He wanted protection because people were after him. The Officer spoke with him, let him know he was safe now. Nobody was chasing him, and he would be protected. The individual put himself on his cellphone microphone, speaking with his daughters who were crying for their father. 

A minute had passed and we had not found the men chasing him; another Officer arrived as back up and began towering over the individual. I was in shock and I thought to myself, “why are we not searching for the men who were chasing him?” These Officers are clearly misidentifying the issue at hand! Another minute goes by, the man is still on the phone with his kids while trying to talk to the Officers, he is scared, I am scared, he thinks his life is in danger, and I do too. He keeps pointing out the individuals who were chasing him, I look over there and see the men, yet the Officers refuse to chase down these people. The Police motto is Serve and Protect, why in this moment are we not doing that?

Trying to regain control of the situation, the Officer who I was riding along with, asks the man for his I.D. I do not know what he is trying to do, what on God’s green earth do you need someone’s I.D. for at this moment in time? He must really want to run his driver’s license and do more paperwork. Come on now, we have bad guys to catch! The guy refuses to comply, he says he has no I.D. and he is not from around here. Sounds legitimate to me, I believe the best course of action is to at least take him somewhere safe, drive him someplace away from the danger. The situation is getting tenser, I hear the girls on the phone screaming, the man is being questioned all the while, quite literally he was the one that called 9-1-1! 

The man has a black bag sitting beside himself on the curb, the Officer asks what’s inside the black bag and demands to see some I.D. The man pauses, looks at the bag, and reaches in. Within that moment… I consider my surroundings, there are 2 Officers within 3 feet of this man and myself another 2 feet away. I am sure if he pulls a gun out, he is going down no question, but he will get one of us as well.  Looks like this is going to be my first and last public ride along with the Cops. 

He reached in… and out came his brown wallet along with a bag of cocaine. We all saw it together at the same instance, the wallet flopped on the ground dropping loose change, dollar bills, and the drugs. He was handcuffed within an instant and placed under arrest. The Officers grabbed his black bag, placed it on the trunk of the car and pulled out 16 grams of Marijuana, 2 grams of cocaine, 1 crack rock, and a broken homemade zip gun that had already been used. My instincts had failed me…the Officer’s instincts had saved them.

We drove the individual to the County Jail and arrived at 8:08 PM, where we spent the majority of the rest of the night. It took three grueling hours to process the arrest in total. The incident report, and arrest report, probable cause affidavit, magistrate’s order, two intake forms, and two sets of pictures, one for the Warrant’s server and other a mugshot for the jail all needed to be completed. We left the Sherriff’s at 10:16 but we were not finished yet, we still had to drive to the Police Department in order to weigh and submit the evidence. But of course, each piece of evidence needs to be tagged and marked. The forms to fill out are just as exhausting, evidence voucher and tags, drug test request, and a felony investigation report for the District Attorney. The pain ended at 11 PM, nearly three hours to the minute after the arrival at the Sherriff’s. Let’s not forget to mention the other Officer involved, who most likely had to fill out his own incident report and collect the individual’s property and take it to the Police Station for safekeeping until his release.

Our current Police Department is understaffed by 52 Officers. The Officer I rode along with had a graduating class of 12 from the Police Academy back in January of 2022. Only six remain. They have gone to other towns, where the workload is easier, pay is greater, and their life is not in danger every single day. Daily, when running my City Council campaign, I’ve been telling people we must increase the Police Officer’s pay at least 30 percent, otherwise our Force will quickly look like those in Goodhue, Minnesota, or Enfield, NC where the Police Chief resigns because of poor pay and the entire PD follows after leaving the city with no protection. 

At the beginning of this shift during their shift change, I gave that same pitch to the entire squad. After I finished what I was saying, they smirked and laughed and said to me, “it’s already happening.” At the end of the night my Officer asked me how much money would it take for me to perform his job? I thought about it for a moment…how much would it take? I thought about it for a second longer and I replied back, “I would never do it.” God bless our Police and First Responders.

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Mike Ross Reflects on the First Debate

Thank You North Carolina

My debate against Shannon went great. We proved that we can civilly disagree about things and acknowledge where we align, and we don’t have to kill each other. I give the people of North Carolina credit for still believing in that possibility.

On July 6, Shannon Bray, who is currently the only other registered Libertarian, and I met at the Faith, Hope and Love Ministry in Gastonia, a place near and dear to me, for the first of what I expect to be several debates leading up to the governor election in 2024. The experience was novel and refreshing, and I want to tell you all about it and acknowledge some people who helped put it together.

Before I get into any of it, I have to thank Shannon. You conducted yourself in a manner that makes me proud to be Libertarian and proud to share the space with you, and debated in a way that should make all Libertarians proud. You were civil, respectful, and sincere, but you didn’t abandon your principles or shy away from difficult issues.

I also have to thank Steven DiFiore. I was happy to hear that Steven would be the moderator. I find you to be an honest and committed Libertarian, and I expected that you would maintain a fair debate, insightful but cordial. You did not disappoint. If we want to show the country that you can run aggressively, on principle, while still remaining connected as humans, steady leadership like yours will be necessary, especially as the party grows and things are more prone to conflict.

The debate itself was nearly flawless. We started a little late, for those paying attention. Quick inside perspective, we had everything else lined up, tested, and working perfectly, and the laptop got ornery at the last minute, and tried to not sign into both YouTube and the recording program at the same time. Our team quickly fixed that, and we were off.

Having a livestreamed debate opens the discussion up to people across the state, Libertarian and other, with easy access and the ability to watch later, when convenient. And the live chat with audience questions got everyone involved, no matter where they were watching. To keep people coming back, we have to execute on things like that, and our team really came through. For that, I want to thank Courtney Conover and my campaign manager, Rob, Nate Seedorf, and everyone else who contributed to bringing equipment, setting up, testing, and keeping the debate running smoothly for everyone joining virtually.

Actually debating in-person, though, creates an environment that is simply impossible to duplicate when we are speaking virtually. I have to thank Brad Hessel for getting Shannon to the debate, and I want to thank all the people in the *studio* audience for coming out to watch and giving the debate an unbelievable vibe.

I am also happy with my performance in the debate. I am not claiming to be the “winner;” I think the people of North Carolina are the only ones who should ever “win” when politicians debate (#FiretheUniparty). Rather, I felt very comfortable in the discussion and I think my responses are reliable reflections of how I would handle being your governor. I hope that I piqued your interest enough to want to learn more. Check out my website, or feel free to reach out directly. I love meeting other Libertarians. For any success I might have had, though, I have to thank my incredible campaign team for the extensive preparation you put into this.

Finally, and I saved the most important one for last, I want to thank Pastor Moses Colbert, Pastor Monica [last name], and everyone at the Faith, Hope, and Love ministry for hosting us so graciously in your building. Pastor Moses, you have been an inspiration to me, more than you know, for the last few years, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve by your side. Despite the pressure you were under with the City’s draconian and vengeful fines, and the pressure you are always under feeding hungry people and spreading your ministry to those most in need, you found the time and space to let us hold this debate in a truly perfect setting. You have a beautiful family at your church, and I promise, I will never stop fighting to defend it.

I have written previously about events around the state, and all the great people I’ve met and things I’ve seen. This time, staying close to home, with a little help from a lot of great people, proved an excellent reminder to keep my eyes open for greatness everywhere, and always remember who I fight for.

Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Mike Ross in Carthage

Mike Ross Reflects on the Carthage Buggy Festival

Just a couple weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending the Carthage Buggy Festival. I was there meeting Christopher Nance from Moore County, our gracious host affiliate. I was also promoting my campaign, collecting signatures to help another party get ballot access, and spending time listening to the people of North Carolina.

When I started this campaign, I knew it would be long and grueling. I expected both peaks and valleys, and that it would test my endurance as much as anything else. And I assumed that the cost of visiting all 100 counties was going to be exacting.

And yet, now a solid few months into my campaign, I've found the opposite to be true. The people of this state really are what make it exceptional, and each hand I shake and story I hear, everyone who shares in the sorrow they experienced because of some uncaring outcome forced upon them from the government overreach of a faceless bureaucrat, or those who lift my spirits with tales of perseverance and do-it-yourself grit and self-sufficiency... you all are more amazing than you know.

I met one young woman from Carthage born and raised, She was in town for the festival, then headed back to college. She was telling me how she planned on moving back to Carthage when she graduated next year, something she had long promised herself she wouldn't to do. "The more I think about it, the more it just feels like home, if that makes sense," she told me. Believe me, it makes sense.

A town council member and I talked about the town for so long, as he took time out of his day to discuss all the local politics with me. He talked about struggles Carthage has faced and the challenges they faced down. He talked to me about how much he and the town were limited in trying to be effective stewards of Carthage, hampered by heavy handed and broad oversite and restriction from Raleigh.

I'm glad I got to explain my nullification plan. We discussed how, as governor, I would make sure that no municipality would ever be subjugated to the authority of a centralized government entity to their own detriment. I relish opportunities like that, where I can show exactly how my message translates to meaningful, useful change for North Carolinians.

I learned about Carthage, its history, and a little of its folklore. The festival was so much fun for my family and me, and we have already started making plans for next year. I got to connect with a promising, motivated affiliate in a wonderful part of our amazing state.

Carthage, thank you for an amazing day! I left with a smile on my face. Every one of you, every time I meet you, see you, or hear your stories, you reinforce why I am doing this. There are real problems that you have to deal with, exacerbated by a central authority concerned only with its donors and reelection bids. I am different, in a way no uniparty politician has ever been. I am concerned with you and your rights, no exceptions.

I'm doing this so you can live your life in a way that's best for you, with opportunity, good educations, safe streets, and nothing preventing you from chasing your little slice of the American dream, right here in North Carolina. With your support, I'll make sure that, for you, and your kids, and their kids beyond, it just feels like home.

Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Mike Ross at the Fayetteville City Council Meeting

LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross attended a city council meeting in Fayetteville and wrote about his experience for the Tar Heel.

On Tuesday, April 11, I had the great privilege of standing with the passionate people of Fayetteville, NC, as they gathered together against the naked power grab the city council is attempting. When I reference the "uniparty," I mean that elected officials from both parties put their own interests ahead of their constituents', without fail, and Fayetteville's city council is proving no exception. As disheartening, if unsurprising, as it was to see politicians being politicians, the resolve of the Fayetteville citizens who turned up to make their voice heard was exponentially more encouraging.

The issue at hand is a proposal by the Fayetteville City Council to extend the councilmembers two-year terms to staggered four-year terms. The council has moved the proposal forward thus far notwithstanding the fact that a similar proposal was voted down by almost 65 percent of voters in 2018. They are proceeding despite the presence of four new councilmembers on the ten-person body, all of whom have far to go before proving their merits to the voters.

Maybe most concerning, the council has moved the discussion to this stage without a shred of self-awareness, as the same city council voted not to investigate themselves or Mayor Colvin, barely a year ago, in the face of serious allegations of unethical behavior. The accusations came from former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell, who alleged serious impropriety and corruption on the part of the mayor and some council members prior to tendering her resignation in protest.

Seeing elected officials declare to their constituents that they no longer feel that they should face scrutiny and be held accountable for their performance at the previously agreed upon schedule, I find myself asking why more than anything else. The political figures who come to mind in discussion of extended terms – Hitler, Mao, Xi, Putin – are not people with whom any decent person, and certainly not any elected official in the U.S., should seek association.

This is not to say that the Fayetteville council members are despotic tyrants on the same scale as some of the worst people in recent history, and I want to be clear I am not implying that at all. I am simply pointing out that there is no discernable, articulable, rational reason for the council to seek extended terms that isn't completely self-serving, and completely self-serving is a dangerous pathway for politicians to follow.

When we say that power corrupts, we mean it. It's not difficult to believe that the mayor was engaged in shady dealings because he is able do so with very little fear of repercussion. It's just human nature. The entire philisophical bedrock of governance on which our country is built relies on the idea that elected officials are accountable to their constituents. Extending their terms of office is an action diametrically opposed to the principles of a democratic society, and more in line with an entrenched corporate board at a failing company.

In the face of this stark reminder that government will ultimately fail you, every time, without exception, the feeling I left with was not despair, but hope. I saw engaged citizens from all parties – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and, of course, Libertarians – uniting against this power grab and demanding that their voices be heard.

Ending government overreach and making sure the public interest is the only special interest that North Carolina serves is the biggest reason I am running for Governor of this great state, and the people of Fayetteville left me encouraged that my vision of uniting regular people against our power-hungry rulers is not only possible, but that people are looking for change.

"To be, rather than to seem," our state motto is not just a catchy phrase - it's a call to action, to be true to ourselves, to be true to our values, and to be true to the principles of Liberty and freedom that unite us as Americans. And that means holding these politicians accountable and demanding that they do the same. Because at the end of the day, the real power doesn't come from the politicians. It comes from us, the people. All we have to do is decide we will no longer be ruled by the far-mongering and power hoarding from our political elites, and together we can #FireTheUniparty.

So to the Fayetteville City Council and all the other power-hungry politicians out there, I say this: we see you. We know what you're up to. And we're not going to let you get away with it. We'll be watching, we'll be organizing, and we'll be voting.

And to the people of Fayetteville, and of North Carolina, I promise you that, as Governor, I will never betray your trust. I will always put your interests first. Everything I do will be to restore your power, increase your Liberty, and improve your life. "To be, rather than to seem." It's not just a motto - it's a way of life. And if we stay true to that, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.

Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Interview with Gubernatorial Candidate Mike Ross

This month, the Tar Heel caught up with LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Mike announced his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for the 2024 North Carolina governor race earlier this month at the state convention. Mike’s political profile has grown over the last two years as he led the charge to fight for the rights of homeless veteran Joshua Rohrer, who was assaulted by police leading to the death of his service dog, as well as Pastor Moses Colbert, against whom the City of Gastonia retaliated when he also defended Joshua.

We asked Mike about his candidacy, the issues that matter, his campaign strategy, Libertarians running competitive campaigns, and a whole host of other topics.

Mike’s website can be found here, volunteers can register here, and donations can be made here. Finally, check out his Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tar Heel: Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. It's a big commitment to run for governor, and it had to start somewhere. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?

Mike Ross: I've always been engaged in keeping an eye on how we are ruled, but it was only as things have continued to get worse that I felt the need to actually run for office. The idea of a free and independent people being the best route to prosperity for society is something I've always believed in, and Libertarian philosophy actually embraces governing with this idea in mind.

Tar Heel: You’ve been active politically, but not as a candidate. What finally changed to make you take the leap?

Ross: As I continue to see Republicans and Democrats pushing division instead of solutions, while embracing policy that is good for special interests but bad for North Carolinians, I felt like the largest group of voters in this state deserve having someone on the ballot who will make them the only special interest that matters.

Tar Heel: Now that you’re in the race, it’s certainly no secret that, while we are growing as a party, it has not yet translated to significant electoral success. How do you see yourself able to change this?

Ross: The veil of the uniparty has been lifted, and I see more people of different ideologies waking up to the systemic dismantling of Liberty at all levels of government. While being governor would allow me to bring real positive change to the lives of regular North Carolinians, I'm aware that at this point it is a very low probability shot. However, it's a great opportunity to grow the movement and inspire future candidates to fix things locally.

Of course, I'm running to win. If we want to be a serious influence on the North Carolina political landscape, it starts with being serious. I have a great team, and we have a strategy mapped out from now until the election. To have a shot, what I really need is volunteers to help out. 

Tar Heel: How important is messaging, and what can we do to get our message out there more effectively?

Ross: Messaging is essential. We are competing against hundreds of millions of special interest money. To try to compete with money would be silly, but bringing an inspiring message with Libertarian solutions that will bring real improvement to regular people's lives is a way to fight back. Inspired people sharing the campaign with everyone they know is far more powerful than money.

Tar Heel: Do you see this differently on a national level, a state level, and at local levels?

Ross: Yes and no. The needs of every locality are different, but the root idea of decentralizing power resonates at all of those levels. The uniparty generally does the same thing at all levels as well, but the power is mostly only exerted by those in larger areas, and then disproportionately exerted on areas that just want to be left alone.

Tar Heel: Your campaign PAC is named "Fire the Uniparty.” What does that mean, and how do you message that to people under the umbrella of the uniparty?

Ross: Despite the theater of the Republicans and Democrats hating each other, they always seem to work together when it comes to advancing special interests over the people. I think the messaging is pretty straightforward… just tell the truth. The records of both Republicans and Democrats give plenty of evidence that despite what they say, they don't actually care about their voters.

Tar Heel: I know family is important to you. How are they handling what promises to be a long and intense campaign?

Ross: They're hanging in there. The time away will definitely be a sacrifice, but they understand why I have to run.

Tar Heel: Following up on that, what are the most important issues to you in North Carolina, and how does being so devoted to your family inform what issues you prioritize?

Ross: My platform covers the issues in more detail, but the economy, education, and healthcare are the most important issues for me. I'm blessed that my family is doing well in those areas, but millions of North Carolinians are suffering in those areas because of bad policy designed to benefit special interests at their expense. Stopping the government from making things unnecessarily harder for families is why I'm doing this.

Tar Heel: Polling shows that those are issues that are important to families in North Carolina. Coming back to messaging, how do you get your platform and the Libertarian argument out to North Carolina families?

Ross: I think it's going to take a grassroots movement to make it happen. I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about tangible Libertarian solutions and how they will make people's lives better. Real solutions, unlike the power grabs the uniparty proposes that won't make a difference for regular people. Combining digital content with boots on the ground in all 100 counties is the way I'm hoping to reach them.

Tar Heel: You’ve already had some success in getting some earned media and using the opportunity provided by other people’s platforms, with a nice interview on Larry Sharpe recently, and a solid article a couple weeks ago about the campaign. How do you build momentum from those?

Ross: I think it is about consistency and having a great team working with me. I'm going to keep building contacts and taking advantage of any opportunities to reach people.

Tar Heel: OK, break it down for us. What would you like to say to the Tar Heel readers and North Carolina more broadly?

Ross: To the Libertarians of North Carolina, I cannot do this without you. If you're able to help my campaign reach millions of North Carolinians, I need your help. Follow me online and share my content. Visit my website and sign up to help volunteer. If you're able, donate to my campaign. To actually fire the Uniparty will only be possible if we can start a true grassroots political revolution and that is going to take as much help as I can get. I can't do it without you, so let's change the world right here in North Carolina, together.

Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts you want to share?

Ross: I'd just want to thank them for taking their time to read this interview and tell them I hope to make them proud as a Libertarian candidate. If they want to learn more about my campaign, please check out firetheuniparty dot com. [editor's note: the website link is at the beginning of this interview]

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Interview with Gubernatorial Candidate Shannon Bray

This month, the Tar Heel caught up with Shannon Bray. Shannon recently announced he will be seeking the Libertarian nomination for the North Carolina governor race in 2024. This is not his first run as candidate in NC; in both 2022 and 2020 he ran for the open Senate seats, including a widely publicized race last year that included Green Party nominee Matthew Hoh featuring a debate at Davidson College.

We wanted to talk to Shannon about his influences, his interests, his main issues, and his motivations. We also wanted to get his thoughts on messaging, which is a major topic of discussion at local, state, and federal levels of the LP right now.

Tar Heel: Shannon, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?

Shannon Bray: I often joke that it was Sarah Palin that drove me to the Libertarian party but politics in general started to divide people running up to 2008. I took an online political test to find where my ideals best aligned. What I discovered was I was indeed Libertarian. When I moved to North Carolina in 2012, I registered as a Libertarian.

The presidency of Donald Trump ultimately led to a decision to let my voice be heard. At the time, I was working for the DoD and the government spending issues kept furloughing my paycheck. As a person who has worked for the federal government most of my life, I felt I had a unique perspective that others would gravitate to.

Tar Heel: This is your third major race in NC. What motivates you to sign up each time? Is it the same underlying drive, or do you find different reasons for different races?

Bray: With the absence of the US Senate race, I had anticipated taking a backseat in this election, but I have had a number of communities reach out and ask that I run this year; this time for Governor. Technology has advanced dramatically and most of our leaders lack the knowledge to take advantage of technologies. I guess to answer your question, each time has been different. What makes this time different is I have already raised more money for this coming election than I have for my previous two attempts.

Tar Heel: We have been talking about messaging recently. You are very publicly a proponent of crypto and other blockchain currency solutions. What got you into them, why do you think they are important, and where do you see them going?

Bray: Crypto is one of the reasons why it is important that I am in this race. My start in crypto goes back several years but my crypto vision is somewhat new. Most people look at crypto as a replacement for fiat currency, and while that is true, the birth of NFTs will change the way our society works with data. Not to mention, DOAs and other crypto-type projects can offer many benefits to local economies. One such example is City Coin.

Tar Heel: Are you concerned about government attempts to intervene in the crypto market, either directly through regulation, or roundabout through the creation of CBDCs?

Bray: Yes; government sponsored crypto defeats the point altogether. The people of the world need a decentralized currency that they own and cannot be stolen from them by the government.

Tar Heel: Beyond crypto, what issues do you consider to the most important heading into 2023 and the election in 2024?

Bray: Our economy needs help; we are in a recession. The White House is reporting good job numbers but that is only because Americans are having to work more than one job now to get by. This is their answer for counting inflation. I'm a father of three school-aged kids and school choice is important. As a veteran, I also need to ensure that my brothers and sisters have the best resources available to them as they transition out of war zones.

Tar Heel: The Green party faced some pretty significant challenges getting on the ballot last year in the latest example of serious gatekeeping by both duopoly parties. What can the Libertarian party do to spread its message and see electoral success despite this challenge?

Bray: Ultimately, this is why we must run. As a third party, we want our ideas heard. We want our candidates taken seriously but the duopoly has defined our political structure and made it difficult for independent voices to emerge. Ballot access is a constant fight which is why the Libertarian party and its members work so hard to ensure we have candidates on the ballot. Every vote we get helps us maintain our ballot access. I, and the other third-party candidates, have to fight for each vote we get and absolutely no vote was wasted. Each of those votes helps ensure someone's voice can be heard in the future.

Tar Heel: Going further, you and Matthew Hoh became friends during that campaign. Where do you see other opportunities to work together with people on issues where we share common ground?

Bray: I would love to see other candidates work together like Mathew and I did. I think it shows how we would work for North Carolina in Washington. That is not the nature of NC politics though. It is a dirty business with both sides throwing in dark money to muddy the waters.

Tar Heel: Very interesting, thank you for that insight. Looking more specifically at you, make your governor pitch. What can you bring to the people of NC and why should you get their support? What would you do on day one?

Bray: I have a fresh take on what our economy needs and I would like to ensure our state can act without the need of any support from the Federal government. I would introduce cannabis as a cash crop and bring aid to our farmers. Our school system needs a gut check; I'm here to provide it. I am a huge advocate of school choice. With my technology background, I can bring new markets to our state while not risking our environment.

On day one we will have Constitutional Carry by Executive Order.

Tar Heel: Following up on that, what would you like to share about yourself personally with people who might be voting for you?

Bray: I'm a bit of an open book. After leaving the US Navy, I started working in technology. Most of my life has been documented somewhere online. I understand the threats that face our nation and I also understand some of the domestic threats that face our state. I believe we can replace many of our outdated systems with new technology and we can do so without forcing the bill on our taxpayers.

Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts or messages you want to share with the people reading this?

Bray: I appreciate everyone for taking the time to read this. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @shannonbrayNC or though my campaign resources. Thank you.

All of Shannon's links can be found here. Donations can be made here, and his campaign store is here. Finally, check out his website and his Twitter.

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Meet the 2022 Candidates, part 1

Dee WatsonDee Watson, NC Senate District 16

Hello, my name is Dee Watson and I am currently running as a Libertarian in for NC Senate district 16. I have over 20 years' experience working in clinical trials as a statistician and statistical programmer. I've always worked in places where opinions are formed from fact finding. When I see politicians selectively pick facts to bolster their opinions, I'm shocked by how counterproductive they are. The best way to solve any problem is to first acquire the relevant information. Then honest people typically agree on the best course of action. If elected, that's what I hope to bring to the capital. I understand that individuals are best suited to make their own decisions.

Government one size fits all decisions cause inefficiencies and needless waste. I will advocate against all government medical mandates. People own their own bodies and the government should never decide what an individual is required to put in or keep out of their body. The government has made it illegal to own a plant, but when someone is arrested, and they didn't harm anyone, the only victim is the person arrested. We need to end the criminalization of possession of firearms and drugs. Most importantly we need to realize that many children are not served best by government schools. We need to fund students, not systems in North Carolina.

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David CoatneyDavid Coatney, US House District 11

My name is David Coatney, and I would like you to know that I have been happily married for 10 years and have been a small business owner since 2005. As the owner of a web marketing agency, I have dedicated my entire adult life to helping small businesses, and now I want to fight for policies that help Mom & Pop.

I saw how destructive government overregulation can be to small businesses and decided not to sit on the sidelines anymore. I was also motivated to fight for immigration reform after having experienced the immigration process firsthand with my wife Beth.


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Sean HaughSean Haugh, NC House District 31

I am running so the voters of my district can choose to radically reduce the size and scope of state government. Abolishing corporate welfare incentives, ending the war on drugs, expanding school choice, and privatizing alcohol sales are all easy Libertarian solutions that will massively reduce the state budget. There are also a whole host of regulations and taxes that we could eliminate so that everyone can enjoy more opportunities to seek prosperity for themselves and their families. We could start with permanently repealing all the healthcare regulations that were suspended because they turned out to be obstacles to our response to the pandemic.

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Thomas HillThomas Hill, Cabarrus County Soil & Water Supervisor

Social Media Coordinator for Dr. Mary Ruwart and founder of Healing Our America

As our county continues to attract new businesses and residents, we need to maintain our ecological balance by holding developers responsible for any negative impact upon our shared infrastructure and environment. We can welcome economic growth without sacrificing our principles and natural resources. The county should encourage all farmers and rural property owners to plant hemp as a form of erosion control. Win or lose, I will continue to monitor issues in our community and advocate for the level of stewardship required to ensure we all have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink

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Meet the 2022 Candidates, part 2

Dee WatsonMatthew Laszacs
NC Senate 14

I am running to return the power of personal choice to the citizens of district 14 and the state of NC. I want to give parents greater freedom to select the best educational options for their children by expanding educational savings accounts, scholarships, and vouchers. I want to reduce or eliminate zoning and land use laws so that people can maximize the economic benefit of their private property and developers can create the quantities and types of housing that are needed to increase supply and decrease the price of housing in our state. I want to eliminate unnecessary occupational licensing regimes that put a stranglehold on people's ability to leverage their natural talents and build wealth for their families, and I want to create an economic environment in this state that allows for new and innovative businesses to easily emerge and flourish. Lastly, I want to reform our criminal injustice system to bring it back within its constitutional guardrails. Half of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights are specifically written to make it difficult to put people in cages, yet our state government imprisons a greater percentage of our NC population than almost every other developed nation and even some dictatorships in the third world.

We must end no knock warrants, curb pre-trial detention so that it is the exception and not the rule, limit our prosecutor's ability to utilize the plea bargaining process to coerce people out of their day in court, end qualified immunity so that government employees are liable to the same constitutional standards as citizens, and we must end the heinous practice of federal asset forfeiture sharing so that our law enforcement agencies are no longer criminals using citizens like an ATM machine whenever they need funds. I believe that the vast majority of our police are good, hard-working people that truly want to build trust with our communities, but we will never build that trust until the management of law enforcement agencies and prosecutors demand that the minority of bad actors stop being the bad guys and behave properly. Personal choice, freedom and liberty, and a society free from fear of government harassment is the roadmap to a better society. Peace and prosperity occur only when individuals are free to make rational choices for themselves, their families, and their communities, unimpeded by excessive government regulation.

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Matt Laszacs for NC Senate 14



Sammie BrooksSammie Brooks
NC Senate 15

We need to elect honest people with great personal integrity into leadership – not just CEOs and businessmen who look out primarily for themselves.

School choice and competition will help improve North Carolina's education system. No one dislikes public schools, but only competition and choice can push stodgy bureaucracies to make changes rather than just guarding entrenched special interests.

Zoning is far too restrictive. People need to be able to build duplexes, multi-family housing, accessory dwelling units, "granny flats," and cottage houses.

Wake County needs more housing, and we need to stop getting in the way of our own progress. Eliminating ABC Boards is a no-brainer. There is no need for government to be losing money trying to run grocery stores. Selling liquor is just a business and adults can make their own responsible decisions about where to buy it.

Government is about providing justice and fairness. That's what we need it to focus on.

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Sammie Brooks for NC Senate 15



MungerMichael Munger
NC Senate 13

North Carolina has the most restrictive and expensive state system of alcoholic beverage control in the nation.

Some of the costs are paid in the form of a "tax" through higher operating costs, and unreasonably high monopoly salaries for local ABC officials. But much of the cost is paid through inconvenience and nonsensical restrictions on local access: our state has less than half the number retail outlets enjoyed by the surrounding southern states. There is no reason the state should maintain a monopoly on retail sales; private stores can take over this expense, and allow people to buy nearer their homes without driving 20 or 50 miles.

Many people object that having a high price deters excessive alcohol use; if you believe that, it is still time to end the old-fashioned and wasteful ABC. We can impose an alcohol tax that will keep prices about the same after privatization. The difference is that this tax will collect revenue, rather than the current "tax" of having to drive 30 minutes each way. The tax revenue can be used to expand opportunities for school choice in rural areas, communities that until now have depended on the state monopoly on education. If we are careful, we can offer better choices and increase personal responsibility in both alcohol sales and education in rural communities.

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Michael C. Munger for NC Senate 13



KatKat McDonald
NC House 34

More freedom for parents to choose what's best for their children, more opportunities for our small businesses, less regulation, and greater school and housing choice.

Wake County is thriving because of the energy, enthusiasm, forward-thinking, and hard work of our diverse small businesses. I want to encourage and stimulate that growth, not stifle it.

The diversity of our people should be reflected in the diversity of the choices they have to live, work, play, educate their children, and pursue their dreams. Government should, in most cases, get out of their way. Special interests should not dictate what choices are allowed. And no one should get special treatment.

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Kat McDonald for NC House 34

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