Girls State candidates compete for votes
By Cyntra Brown
Girls from around North Carolina elected a government Friday for the nation’s 51st state.
The state was fictional, of course, but it was the experience that counted for the girls.
Tar Heel Girls State, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, held elections for its offices at Catawba College’s Keppel Auditorium.
Divided into “cities,” the groups of red, blue, green, orange, purple and yellow opened the ceremony by swaying hand in hand singing, “Proud to Be an American.”
The chants and cheers of 275 high school seniors from all over the state filled the room as they anxiously waited for speeches to begin.
The cities were suddenly split into two groups: the Federalists and the Nationalists. The girls then switched from colorful renditions of popular songs to cheers.
“Swat the Nats!” the Federalists yelled.
“We don’t die, we multiply!” the Nationalists yelled.
When the cheers finally died down, the speeches began.
Positions up for grabs were governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state and attorney general.
The Nationalists’ platform included equal opportunity for education, increased quality of education, the research of diseases, alternative energy and equal pay for all workers.
The Federalist platform lobbied for better sex education and health education, furthering the GI Bill, increasing funding for nonprofit organizations and encouraging more females to obtain leadership roles.
Timesha Small was the Federalists’ candidate for attorney general.
With her father a detective, and her mother a sheriff, Small associates her love of the law with her parents.
“I’m a nerd for law and investigation” Small said.
She went on to speak to her peers about how she wants to represent Girls State and the “250 intelligent women” she saw in front of her. Her goal after graduating high school is to major in political science and go to law school. Even though her last name is Small, she said, her “intelligence and ambition will represent us all.”
Beth Blackwood represented the Nationalists and said she ran for office “because I really love government.”
Blackwood said she wasn’t focused on winning a title so much as being able to make a difference in Girls State. No matter the platform, she said, everyone should be able to embrace change.
“Make the law work for you,” Blackwood said. “No matter the party.”
Running for secretary of state, Federalist Maggie Hartley didn’t talk politics. Instead, she had her friends from Yellow City perform a rendition of “It’s Raining Men,” umbrellas and all. Hartley ended her speech by saying, “Don’t forget the girl with the smile, because she’ll go the extra mile.”
Hartley’s opponent, Nationalist Margaret Patterson, is known by her peers for making balloon animals. She said her personality would give her the ability to represent both parties and Girls State. Patterson said she understands the fast pace of the General Assembly and promised she can stay on top of the information.
She also sang a song, to the tune of “Single Ladies,” by Beyonce. The point she was trying to get across? “If you like her, then you need to put a ‘X’ on it.”
Rebecca Love, the Federalist candidate for lieutenant governor, called Girls State the “chance of a lifetime.” She said she will cherish the memories of cheers, ice cream parties and friends for the rest of her life.
This “prestigious program,” she said, opened many doors for her and gave her knowledge she will always carry with her. Love said she and her peers all have the leadership skills to “succeed in this world” and wants everyone to come and work together peacefully for the better of the Girls State community.
Girls State, she said, “was created for us and by us.”
Nationalist candidate CeCe Willis said she also understands the honor and privilege of representing all the girls at Girls State. She said leaders need to be able to “respect, relate and respond” to their community.
“Compromise is the key to reach that goal” Willis said.
Willis was also the mayor of Blue City and encouraged her citizens to speak out. “Great leaders need great followers,” Willis said.
Detoria Rolle was the Federalist candidate for governor.
“I stand before you today not as a member of Red City or a Fed,” Rolle began. She went on to say that how Girls State didn’t define her by her race, socio-economic status, or her gender, but as a person, just like all the other girls, on the “content of individual character.”
Rolle encouraged her peers to give back and make a difference in the world without waiting for someone to “spark you desires” to do so. She went on to tell the audience to “speak with your head and your heart,” and ended with a quote from the sixth president, John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Rolle’s opponent, Nationalist Emily Edwards, focused on the undecided voters in the audience.
“Girls State is not all about leadership” she said.
Edwards said being able to represent Girls State is another important quality that qualifies a person to be the governor. Edwards said she didn’t come to Girls State with poster board and a prepared speech. Throughout the week, however, the activities challenged her to come out of her shell and run for the highest position available. The experience boosted her self esteem, and made her “proud to be a woman,” she said.
She encouraged the girls to vote for who they wanted to represent them.
As each “city” went to vote, the tension eased with more cheering and chanting.
When the election ended, the following girls had won: Detorie Rolle, governor; CeCe Willis, lieutenant governor; Maggeie Hartley, secretary of state; and Timesha Smalls, attorney general.
Quinn Scarvey, a Girls State participant from Salisbury, said she “learned a great deal about parliamentary procedures” at the weeklong program. She went through the process of preparing bills and other legislative activities.
She also enjoyed meeting girls from all over the state and plans to keep in touch, she said. Girls State provides all the participants with a book containing the names of everyone involved.