Political Notebook: Commissioner candidate apologizes for comments about Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins

Published 12:24 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

SALISBURY — Rowan County commissioner candidate Angie Spillman apologized for previous comments she made related to Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins being a “Marxist, left-wing liberal ideologue” after a conversation in-person at this year’s Rowan County Fair.

In a Facebook post on her campaign page last month, Spillman, a Republican, shared her experience speaking and apologizing to Heggins for hurting her feelings in an endorsement of Mayor Karen Alexander. Spillman’s post stated a vote for Alexander would ensure a “Marxist, left-wing liberal ideologue who is perfectly fine with tearing down history stays out of the highest ranking city seat.” The post also stated Heggins wanted to melt the “Fame” Confederate monument into a bronze ball.

Heggins is challenging Alexander in the city’s first mayoral race. The race for county commissioner will take place in 2022.

Spillman said in a Facebook post on Sept. 25 she apologized to Heggins for not speaking with her before making the comments and for hurting her feelings. Heggins denounced the title of “Marxist,” and clarified that Fame is a beautiful piece of art she never wanted to destroy. Additionally, Heggins said she welcomed the opportunity to be invited to the White House by former President Donald Trump when she was mayor.

Spillman said her mind is still set on Alexander, but her interaction showed she could have changed the way she presented her message.

“My post was one-sided and I am glad I was able to give you all Al Heggins side. You deserved it, and so did she,” Spillman wrote. “I will always be transparent. I will never withhold someone’s speech or their side to the story. The truth is, Al Heggins had the right to be heard, just like I do. I want to thank her for talking to me about this face to face — it says a lot about her and her strength and courage. Remember, she approached me.”

Included in the Facebook post was the hashtag “#VoteKarenAlexander.”

Spillman’s post received around 90 comments with varied responses of support and criticism.

Heggins said she enjoyed the conversation and emphasized the importance of open dialogue with respect for fellow Americans.

“You’re a proud Republican, supporting Karen Alexander, and I’m a proud Democrat supporting my candidacy for mayor,” Heggins wrote in a response. “But last night and today we set the example of being compassionate human beings, proud Americans and dedicated Rowan County residents. Yes, I love my city and my country! I will always seek to bridge misunderstandings and build community. Thank you!”

New polls show presidential approval rating, thoughts on Afghanistan among North Carolinians, Americans 

New High Point University polls indicate a 38% presidential approval rating among North Carolinians, while more than half of those same respondents stating the war in Afghanistan wasn’t worth the money.

The poll regarding presidential approval was conducted from Sept. 10 to Sept. 24 after live interviews with 876 North Carolina residents. Those same respondents gave Gov. Roy Cooper a job approval rate of 45%, though 23% didn’t offer an opinion either way.

The poll shows 60% of those respondents said the country is on the wrong track, with only 28% indicating it’s headed in the right direction. The poll included various questions about issues such as how Biden is handing the COVID-19 pandemic and how the exit from Afghanistan was executed. While 42% approved of Biden’s handling of the pandemic, only 25% approved of the situation in Afghanistan. His handling of the economy received an approval rating of 34%.

“Respondents to our survey are more or less split on Biden’s handling of COVID-19 and health care, while a majority disapprove of his handling of the economy, duties as commander in chief and Afghanistan,” said Brian McDonald, associate director of the HPU poll.

A separate poll conducted during the same time period shows 56% of North Carolinians don’t feel U.S. military action in Afghanistan was worth the cost, which is estimated to be at least $2 trillion over 20 years. Further, the poll showed North Carolinians are somewhat divided over whether the U.S. should have kept troops in Afghanistan, with 47% stating there should have been a military presence until the situation stabilized and 37% saying it was right to remove them.

Other questions asked residents about the single biggest threat to the nation, with 36% saying it’s China, 16% stating Russia and Afghanistan, 12% stating North Korea and 6% stating Iran. China received an average rating of 7.3 in terms of its threats, with 10 indicating an extremely dangerous threat.

Additionally, the poll showed 47% of North Carolina residents feel the U.S. should be active in world affairs versus 34% who disagree. More than two-thirds see the world becoming more dangerous for the U.S., and 50% said they feel less safe than they did a year ago.

FiveThirtyEight, which focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics, economics, and sports blogging, currently shows a 48% disapproval rating for Biden. FiveThirtyEight tracks the approval rating daily by using all the national polls it can find.

Three Rowan County lawmakers endorse Rep. Budd for U.S. Senate campaign

Rep. Ted Budd’s campaign reported last week that 33 lawmakers from across North Carolina have endorsed him in his race for the U.S. Senate in 2022, including three who represent Rowan County.

Budd is a Republican who currently represents the 13th Congressional District, which includes Rowan County. He’s seeking the seat currently held by Sen. Richard Burr, who is retiring at the end of his term. Other Republicans in the race include former Gov. Pat McCrory and former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker.

Reps. Harry Warren and Julia Howard endorsed Budd along with Sen. Carl Ford. All three are Republicans representing parts of Rowan, Stanly and Davie counties.

Warren said the state’s best chance of winning the Senate seat is by promoting a candidate like Budd who has proven he can win elections. He credited Budd with being a true conservative who keeps up with his constituents and legislates “based on principle, not polling.”

Howard and Budd both trace their roots to Davie County, which she says is valuable in fighting against big government in Washington, D.C.

“I’m one of Ted’s constituents so I can also vouch that Ted is working hard for North Carolina in Congress,” Howard said. “Ted Budd takes his Davie County values to Washington, D.C., to fight against out-of-control, big government. Unless you’re accusing him of being a Davie County insider, it’s laughable for anyone to try to label Ted a ‘DC-Insider.’”

Ford credited Budd with working hard to support the communities he represents in North Carolina and said he’ll be a great advocate for the people of the state.

Of the 33 total endorsements, 25 were among other sitting legislators and eight are former members. Earlier this year, Budd snagged an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, who he aligned himself with in announcing his run for the U.S. Senate.

“This large group of legislators represents all geographic regions of North Carolina and urban and rural communities alike,” said Jonathan Felts, senior adviser to Budd’s campaign. “Some of them even ran against Ted in the 2016 primary but now believe Ted Budd is the best choice for North Carolina, demonstrating that Ted is a candidate who can find common ground with folks and get things done.”

The U.S. Senate race in North Carolina is expected to be among the top watched races across the nation. Democrats would need the seat to build on the current majority, while Republicans will need the seat to reach a majority. The Senate is currently split 50-50 among Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tie-breaking Democrat vote.

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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