Political notebook: Biden campaign hosts HBCU roundtable for NC students

Published 12:39 am Monday, August 17, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — Following the selection of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate on the Democratic ticket, North Carolina HBCU Students for Biden hosted a virtual back-to-school event and roundtable discussion Saturday with U.S. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, NC-01.

The discussion highlighted presidential candidate Joe Biden and Harris’ plans for education, particularly for North Carolina’s historically black colleges and universities, which includes $18 billion in tuition grants for lower income families, $10 billion to create at least 200 new “centers of excellence” and $20 billion for infrastructure at research facilities. Currently, more than 44 million Americans now hold a total of $1.5 trillion in student loans. Additionally, one in five adults who hold student loans are behind on payments, with a disproportionate number being Black.

If elected, Harris would be the first Black and South Asian woman to serve as vice president of the U.S. and also the first vice president who is a graduate of an HBCU. She is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

While Alabama is home to the most HBCUs, North Carolina has the most students enrolled in HBCUs in the nation, with three campuses located in the Triangle alone and one in Salisbury — Livingstone College.

Butterfield, a graduate of North Carolina Central University, is the chief deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus, and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 114th congressional district. During the roundtable, he said HBCUs deserve the same funding as other schools because they serve as the training grounds for future Black doctors, lawyers and teachers. He added that Biden and Harris’ plan for HBCUs surpasses any other ticket in past elections.

Butterfield also said the nation was tired of “Trump’s division and him trying to steal elections and suppress the African-American vote.”

“It really matters who occupies elected office,” he said, urging all North Carolinians to vote in the November election.

William Fairfax, the national co-chair for HBCU/Black Students for Biden, hosted the event. Panelists included Cassandra Brooks, Kelvin Stallings, Imani Jessemy and Adrianna Williams.

Panelists primarily discussed the effects of the pandemic on the college experience, while urging everyone to vote in the upcoming general election.

Jessemy said students are tired of living behind a mask, saying the current administration “didn’t do what needed to be done” as the pandemic has raged on for six months now.

“We need fresh eyes and fresh minds to assess the problems going on,” she said.

Attendees also heard from Kristi Jones, who serves as chief of staff for Gov. Roy Cooper. Jones said she introduced Cooper to the HBCU experience and believes Harris’ HBCU experience in the White House will bring about a new level of pride and excitement for the Black culture.

“Our time is now,” she said.

Panelist Williams, a current college student, said she has a documented learning disability. She added that Biden and Harris’ plan is ideal for students because it includes funds geared at hybrid learning for students. She also urged locals to vote.

“Vote like our lives depend on it,” she said, “because they do.”


Sen. Carl Ford appointed to Commission on Governmental Operations

RALEIGH — Sen. Carl Ford, who represents Rowan County, has been appointed to serve on the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, the legislature’s primary oversight body.

“It’s an honor, and it’s a great responsibility, especially when you get to look into the executive branch,” Ford said.

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, appointed Ford to the commission. He joins House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and 40 other members, both Democrats and Republicans, in the House and Senate. The commission has subpoena authority and oversight jurisdiction over a broad range of government agencies and programs.

“Sen. Ford’s passion for effective, honest government will be an asset to the (commission),” Berger said in a news release. “Sen. Ford takes the legislature’s constitutional oversight role seriously, and he’ll be an important check to make sure the executive branch is doing its job properly.”


Polls give insights into job approval for national, state officials

HIGH POINT — A poll from High Point University, conducted in June and July, found that registered voters in North Carolina give President Donald Trump a job approval rating of 43%, while about half (49%) of North Carolina registered voters say they disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president.

Those same registered voters surveyed give Gov. Roy Cooper a job approval rating of 50%, with 40% saying they disapprove. Only 10% did not offer an opinion either way.

The poll asked registered voters in the state to rate their approval of national and state elected officials, particularly amidst the pandemic, said Brian McDonald, the associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor.

The poll was conducted by live interviewers working remotely through the High Point University Survey Research Center. They called June 15 through July 2 and July 5 through July 17. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 422 registered voters interviewed on landline or cellphones. The Survey Research Center drew this sample from the voter file made public by the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

Among registered voters in North Carolina, 32% say they approve of the job U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is doing, while 33% disapproved and 36% did not offer an opinion either way.

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr received a job approval rating of 24% from the registered voters, while 37% say they disapprove. The HPU Poll included 38% that did not offer an opinion either way.

About 77% of North Carolina’s registered voters say the country is on the wrong track. Only 15% of those registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction.

The latest presidential approval rating, tracked daily by FiveThirtyEight using all the national polls it can find, currently shows a 54.6% disapproval rating for President Donald Trump.

FiveThirtyEight, which focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging, states that it uses a formula that weights polls according to pollster ratings, which are based on pollsters’ historical accuracy in forecasting elections since 1998 and a pair of easily measurable methodological tests. Those tests include whether the pollster participates in professional initiatives that seek to increase disclosure and enforce the industry’s best practices, along with whether the pollster usually conducts live-caller surveys that call cell phones as well as landlines.

Some of the national polls used to track approval rating includes YouGov, Fox News and NBC News/The Wall Street Journal, which all have at least a “B” grade in credibility, according to FiveThirtyEight. YouGov’s latest polls included all adults, while Fox and NBC News/WSJ surveyed registered voters.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

email author More by Natalie