Politics Isn’t Always a Party

I am a strong advocate of the non-partisan aspect of the Huntersville Town Board. After nearly 13 years of involvement on the Board, I have seen the years when we have made significant progress and years when we did not. The years we made progress were those when people did not draw lines in the sand based on party ideology. Those were the years we listened to each other, listened to the citizens and when necessary, compromised.

So I was delighted during the past month to be approached by a ranking elected official in the North Carolina legislature, asking me if I would be interested in running for the House in 2014. “I’m not the person you want,” I told him, “because I believe in trying to listen and get along with everyone.”

“Believe it or not, you are the type of person we want,” he told me. “That’s the type of leadership I’m trying to build.”

I was flattered. Because it hit me that perhaps my party was beginning to see that as mayor of Huntersville, I feel a strong sense of obligation to “my” town. That my obligation extended to working with the elected leaders of the other party in other municipalities for the long term benefit of our region. Perhaps this gentleman was confirming that he understood that my job is to make sure that the leaders in Raleigh, and maybe more importantly, in D.C., will be the ones that know Huntersville, that will respond to our requests for assistance and consideration.  Yes, this was the affirmation I needed: My party appreciated the fact that as mayor, it is my job to look beyond party lines to make sure the needs of our town are acknowledged.

A week later, however, I was called by a local member of my party to tell me that if I endorse anyone other than a party member in any of the upcoming elections, my own party would find someone to run against me in the next election.

So my conscience is bothering me…because I’m elected to do what’s right for my community. I’m elected to be the advocate, to make sure Huntersville is first and foremost, to ensure that we have the ear of our elected representatives. If I don’t tell you what I believe, then I’m doing a disservice to my office.

But I also believe in the benefits of being non-partisan. As mayor, I should be able to work with ANYONE that is in office, regardless of party affiliation.

So my conscience and my love for my job remain in a constant battle. I want to continue to do good things and represent all of our citizens.

In the spirit of compromise, therefore, I will say this: Please Voters, please look carefully at the candidates. Of course believe in candidates that share your ideology, but also look outside of the needs of your home and look at the needs of your community.

  • Who will represent you in Raleigh and in D.C. with a commitment to your hometown?
  • Who has spent time in office getting to know more about the inner tickings of government and who knows the back roads to Town Hall on the days that I-77 is at a standstill?
  • Who has not only been at Huntersville’s significant events, but who has not been at Huntersville’s significant events?
  • Who has shown not that they compromised their beliefs, but they compromised on behalf of the greater good?
  • Who has been accessible?
  • Who, in daily life, is much like you?
  • Who has shown they cared?

Whether for a local office, a state office or a federal office, please know that in the end, both parties will be brought together with the trust of the voters to work together, to make smart decisions and to be examples for compromise and kindness.

I thank the leader of my party of record for acknowledging that I’m able to bring people together. It’s highly doubtful that I will run for higher office, but thank you for the compliment. There’s still so much good to be done in Huntersville and I’d love to be part of it.


Author: jillswain

Former Mayor Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Advertising consultant Mom and spouse (30 years and counting!) Rec league girls' volleyball coach Champion of all things Huntersville, North Carolina

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