Political Notebook: Two local candidates drop out of Rowan Chamber of Commerce forum

Published 12:49 am Monday, October 12, 2020

SALISBURY — Neither candidate for N.C. House District 77 will attend Tuesday’s forum hosted by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce.

Keith Townsend, a Democrat from Mount Ulla, cited health concerns. Rep. Julia Howard, a Republican, said she has a meeting conflict in Raleigh.

This forum will be at 6 p.m. Candidates, the moderator and media will be on site at the Norvell Theatre, but this year’s forum will be void of an audience due to current gathering restrictions with COVID-19. It will, however, be available virtually on the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page and re-broadcast by local stations WSRG-TV (formerly Access 16) and Hotwire 394 several times prior to election day on Nov. 3.

All who attend will have their temperature taken and be required to provide a signed COVID-19 protocol form, which asks basic screening questions such as whether the individual has been tested within the last 14 days, has had a cough, fever or loss of taste as well as if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

In a post on his campaign Facebook page, Townsend wrote that he could not “in good conscience attend an extended indoor event where masks are not required.”

“This week, the chamber changed a virtual event to a live event. Candidates were given no options. Be smart, be safe and protect others,” Townsend said.

Candidates slated to attend include Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, and his opponent, Al Heggins, a Democrat who currently serves as Salisbury’s mayor pro tem as well as Sen. Carl Ford, R-33, and his Democratic challenger Tarsha Ellis. Rep. Wayne Sasser, R-67, will only participate in the opening comments section of the forum since he’s running unopposed.

The format of the forum will include a welcome from moderator Dari Caldwell, two-minute opening comments from all candidates, a Q&A that allows for one-minute responses and one-minute closing comments from all candidates.


Poll shows how voters are getting information about political races

HIGH POINT — A new High Point University Poll finds that registered voters in North Carolina are “very interested” in the presidential election, and that they’re more likely to gain information about the presidential campaigns from ads on TV, the internet and the radio.

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers working remotely through the High Point University Survey Research Center from Sept. 11 to Sept. 30. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 401 registered voters interviewed on landline or cellular telephones.

The survey found that 73% of registered voters consider themselves to be “very interested” in the presidential campaign this year. And when it comes to how voters are gaining their information, 75% say they’ve seen TV ads from both former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump. And 73% of those same respondents say they gained information about candidates in state or local races from TV ads.

Majorities of registered voters also say they have gained information about both presidential campaigns from advertisements on the internet (64%). When it comes to state and local candidates, more than half of respondents (59%) say they have seen advertisements on the internet, and about half (49%) heard advertisements on the radio.

A majority of registered voters (63%) received direct mail about state and local candidates. Only 35% of these same registered voters say they received direct mail from both presidential candidates, but an additional 10% say they received direct mail from Biden’s campaign, and 23% say they received direct mail from Trump’s campaign.

“There is no doubt that voters are interested in the 2020 election, and the campaigns are working hard to communicate to them,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU Poll and adjunct professor. “Social distancing may have played a part in how campaigns were reaching out to potential voters, limiting door-to-door campaigning and public events.”

The poll also found that some other means of communication are apparently not reaching many voters. More than half of registered voters surveyed say neither the Trump nor Biden campaigns have communicated to them through door-to-door visits, through campaign staff at a public event, or through friends or family members who were working on campaigns.

Respondents also haven’t received these types of campaign contacts from state and local candidates. More than 70% of respondents say they have not been contacted by campaign staff for state or local candidates going door-to-door, campaign staff at a public event, or through friends or family working on a campaign.


Rowan County surpasses statewide response rate to 2020 Census; Landis leading

SALISBURY — The deadline to complete the 2020 Census falls on Halloween this year, and, so far, Rowan County has a 65.4% response rate.

That’s slightly more than the state’s overall response rate of 63.2%, but lower than the national rate of 66.8%. Census data from 2010 show Rowan County’s final response rate was 65.9%.

The census provides data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and health care workers use to provide services, products and support for the local community. Following completion of the census, an estimated $675 billion in federal funding will go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other vital community programs based on the data submitted.

The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

Currently, Landis has the highest response rate at 69.4%, according to the latest data provided on 2020census.gov. Here’s the response rates for other municipalities in Rowan County:

• China Grove: 66%
• Cleveland: 58.2%
• East Spencer: 34.5%
• Faith: 64.2%
• Granite Quarry: 68.1%
• Kannapolis: 62.5%
• Salisbury: 61.9%
• Spencer: 60.8%
• Rockwell: 64.7%

Local officials encourage all residents to complete the 2020 Census either online at 2020Census.gov, by telephone at 844-330-2020, or by mail before the deadline of Oct. 31. Additionally, local officials estimate that an undercount would mean a loss of $74 billion for the state over the next 10 years, as well as overcrowding in schools due to an inaccurate count of school-aged children, loss of necessary health programs or delayed road rehabilitation.

All responses to the census are confidential.


40 top law enforcement officials endorse Josh Stein for state Attorney General race 

RALEIGH — A bipartisan group of 40 sheriffs and district attorneys have endorsed Att. Gen. Josh Stein for re-election.

Stein, a Democrat, has served as the state’s Attorney General since 2017. He’s being challenged by James “Jim” O’Neill, a Republican.

In a statement, sheriffs expressed support based on Stein’s ability to make families safer and put rapists behind bars.

“North Carolina families are safer because of Attorney General Josh Stein,” said Sheriff Clee Atkinson, a Democrat who serves Edgecombe County.

“As Attorney General, Stein is leading the effort to test rape kits and put rapist behind bars,” said Sheriff Charles Blackwood, another Democrat who serves Orange County. “That’s why law enforcement across North Carolina support Attorney General Josh Stein.”

While Mecklenburg County’s sheriff and district attorney appear on the endorsement list, officials from Rowan and adjacent counties do not.

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.

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