Speech to Grand Oak Elementary School 5th Grade Graduates

June 7, 2018


If I opened up my wallet right now, you all would see lots of small change, a number of pictures, and very few dollars. I don’t have very much money.

But if it was possible to open up my heart, you’d see that it was very, very full — in my heart, I am a very rich woman. And today is one of the reasons why. 

Fifth grade graduation is a huge deal. I get to talk to soon-to-be middle schoolers who are on their way to bigger things. And don’t get me wrong: Middle school isn’t easy. In fact, it can be tough. There are classes that will blow you away — you’ll find challenges and test subjects that you don’t think you can do. But you can. You will walk down halls and see so many unfamiliar faces that you’ll wonder if you will ever be able to meet all of them. And you will. You’ll experience middle school drama and you’ll sometimes think it won’t get better. But it will. Because you’ve made it this far. And you all — every single one of you — have so much further to go.  

When I was younger, I never in a million years would have thought I’d run for election. I never thought I’d meet people like former Vice President Joe Biden or the president of Hong Kong. I never thought I’d have a conversation with former President Bill Clinton or sit on a yacht and hike with a Chinese billionaire.

And while all of those are pretty cool things and pretty awesome people to meet, none of them come even close to my being able to stand here right now and look at all of you. Because I know — I KNOW — that our paths are going to cross again. Some of you will write books that I will read. Some of you will work for companies that do great things. Some of you may become inventors or public speakers or people who give back to your community. You may eventually have families of your own and raise your own outstanding future citizens. And here I stand, realizing that I am watching important people move from 5th grade to the future.

As you travel on whatever paths you take, I want you all to remember that there is one really important thing to carry with you. Remember to be kind. No matter how many A’s you get, no matter how much money you make or save, no matter how many friends you make, always remember to be kind.

And look for YOUR Robert Marsh. Who is Robert Marsh? Well, he was in my high school. He was different than most of the students. He was too friendly sometimes, kinda nerdy, didn’t always wear the best clothes. Sometimes he would say something awkward and he didn’t “fit” in a lot of groups. And Robert Marsh came to our high school prom by himself. He walked around the dance, smiling at people, but no one seemed to want to talk to him. But I did. I walked up to Robert Marsh and I asked him to dance. And you know what Robert Marsh said to me as we were dancing? He told me, “This is the best night of my life.”

Now that was almost 40 years ago. I don’t know if Robert Marsh remembers it. But I do. Because simply by being kind, I made someone else happy. And that’s a feeling I’ve tried to have every day since then.

When you go to middle school, there will be kids who aren’t like you. They will be finding their way, just like you. And you want to be the one to be kind to them. Because decades later, you’ll remember how it filled your heart and made YOU the richest person in the room….just by being kind.

Congratulations, Graduates. Thank you for the privilege of watching you move on your way today. I’m excited to watch what’s ahead for you!




It’s A Good Time to Share This

The recent headlines calling the countries of Africa and Haiti a vile name sent me back four years ago when my high school-aged daughter was applying for colleges. The essays required had her mystified — how do you explain what has formed you for 17 years in the simplicity of words?

Here is one of the results. All words by Sydney Swain. All beliefs shared with her proud mom.


Like an old negative developing into a photograph, the blurred lines become crisp, and I see two figures. As the picture becomes clearer, one begins to resemble the image I see in the mirror. My strong jawline, olive skin, and dirty blonde hair are now vivid. There, in front of me, I see myself. I am glowing, with opportunity and potential illuminating from my fortune of being born into a land promised with a wealth of possibilities.

The figure beside me is still dark, dull, stuck in the gloomy transition, not able to fully actualize into the extraordinary being that is hidden behind the shadows. But I see what is invisible to the eye. Repressed, abused, and neglected, there stands a small girl. Curious and capable, yet unable to express her creativity between the enormous walls and barbed wire fences that have imprisoned her for her eight years of existence.

Except, she does not exist. She was born in the confines of one of the several Haitian refugee camps in the Dominican Republic, a country that does not issue birth certificates to babies of parents without passports. This child is without a country, without an identity, and without a future. She is not real. To leave the dusty roads of her little world and step foot outside of the cement barricade would be to enter another country illegally. So there she waits. Patiently. For her story to develop.

As a surge of darkness envelops this fragile creature and her outline diminishes, I try to not turn away. I cannot leave her now, for although she may not be real to the rest of the world, she is real to me. I have felt the soft stroke of her hand on my arm; I have listened to the subtle hiccup she gives when a giggle unexpectedly overtakes her body; I have seen the cheerful smile she always wears, even in the midst of such poverty and despair.  How can I prove that there is more to her than an absent piece of paper? How is it fair to deny this child the chance to grow up, based solely on the condition in which she was born?

Without help, the shadows of her picture may never be defined. The aspirations and dreams of a faceless refugee child may never be able to radiate as mine are now.

So I will continue to stare at this imbalanced image, while the difference in contrast proceeds to grow, hoping that my light will somehow find its way to her.

To Be ThanksGiving, You Must Be ThanksReceiving

A few months ago, after experiencing the evil in people, it took everything I had to put one foot in front of the other and move amongst the very world that seemed to be against me at the time. Yes, it was political season, but I wasn’t a candidate, and yet the acts of cruelty lobbed against me and against my family was something I never imagined a human being could do to another — a purposeful effort to hurt my family’s reputation, finances, hard work.

One August morning, I decided I needed the peace of the mountains and I drove to Blowing Rock. I walked in the downtown, browsed through the stores, watched children swing in the downtown park. When rain started to fall, I meandered to a restaurant with a deck and sat down at a table in the corner.

I ordered a salad and a glass of wine (as a treat to myself for being alone!) and as I neared the end of my meal, a woman walked up from the sidewalk to the side of the deck. “Honey, can you tell me where the Flat Top Manor is?”

Well, I couldn’t, but the waitress Googled it, and as she was looking, the woman told me I “must” go, that it was a beautiful old home on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a stunning vista and available wares from artisans for sale. “Why not?” I told her, and I paid my bill and began to walk to the parking lot to my car.

In an alley in Blowing Rock, there is a giant postcard painted on a wall that tells visitors, “Welcome to Blowing Rock!”. It was there that I saw another woman taking a picture of it. “Can I take a picture for you with you in it?” I asked her. She handed me her camera with thanks and I took a few pictures.

She asked me where I was from and I told her. I reciprocated the question and she told me she lived in a small town in Oklahoma, but then she amended her answer: “I actually am FROM a small town in Kansas.”

I was afraid I knew what she was going to say next when I asked her which small town. “Harper,” she replied. I dropped my shopping bag and my purse on the parking lot ground and heard myself whisper, “I must have needed you.” And then I told her, “if you have angel wings on your back, I won’t be surprised.”

You see, my great-grandmother was the first girl born in the incorporated Harper, Kansas. My grandmother was born there, and my mother. I spent most of my summers in Harper and in college, when I needed love and re-invigoration, and because my parents lived several states away, Harper was my solace, because my grandmother was my best friend.

This woman, Carol, actually had lived close to the family land we call Pilot Knob. She had attended the one room schoolhouse on the property that my grandmother eventually tore down and from which I still have some old books.

Carol joined me on the trip to Flat Top Manor, where we sat on the porch in rocking chairs and talked to other people from far away about the connections that can be made when your hearts are open. I drove home that day incredulous and inspired and overwhelmed…and happy.

I have much to be thankful for, as I always do. In giving thanks this year, I will remember that when I make my heart available, so much more happiness comes my way. I am able to give more, and in return, I receive.

I haven’t received a text lately from Carol and I’ve been hesitant to text her myself. Because part of me wants to believe she was an angel, sent from my grandmother, to let me know all is going to be okay. But I may just send her this note, to let her know that in the randomness of the world, on a day I decided impulsively to drive to a mountain town, ate a restaurant that was closest to me when a quick rain shower came down, sat at a table close to a sidewalk where a woman could walk by and ask me a question and walk down an alley where someone was taking a picture, she will be on my Thanksgiving list today.

Happy ThanksReceiving Day.

There Are Always Two Sides to What You Read. Make Sure You Ask.

These are the reasons to check into each candidate. Talk to him/her. Ask about what you read. Delve into issues and look at votes. There is usually more to to learn.

Conversely, if someone sends you a “fact”, don’t rely on their research. Don’t rely on mine. Do your own.

Danny Phillips Wins the Lottery

When It Comes to Elections, Just Research

This week we saw Arizona Senator Jeff Flake speak about today’s political environment. I could not help but compare his words to the actions taken recently by those running for office here in Huntersville. Below are his words and some of my own thoughts for those who may be interested in Huntersville and its future.

Senator Flake: “The reckless provocations, most often for the pettiest and most personal reasons, reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with the fortunes of the people that we have been elected to serve. None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal. We must never allow ourselves to lapse into thinking that that is just the way things are now….

Such behavior does not project strength because our strength comes from our values. It instead projects a corruption of the spirit and weakness. It is often said that children are watching. Well, they are. And what are we going to do about that? When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?”

In a time when our community needs vision and solutions, we are instead bombarded with signs and candidates who refuse to participate in forums.

Campaigning has become cruel and personal attacks are now the normal expectation. I am no longer in public service anymore, nor am I running for public office, and still, I am maligned on a regular basis via social media. In fact, as I write this, I know that people who don’t know me will spit my name out.  I have to remind myself not to be like them.

In today’s local elections, I am concerned about our Town and the progress and standards our Town has had for decades. I am attached to the Staff that has worked hard to forward a positive vision. I am dedicated to showing our children that public service is indeed a noble ambition (or at the very least, we should make it one again).

I know there are candidates (incumbents) who love their families and whose families would do anything for them. I’m sure as parents and spouses, their love knows no bounds. I’ve seen the dedication of their friendships and how fiercely people will protect them. And because families are also affected by campaigns, I will say their loyalty is the right thing. But not at the expense of the family members of other people.

My qualms with some of the incumbents would be the way they represent our town — is it for the greater good, or for themselves?

Our local Election Day is Tuesday November 7th and we have four men who are running for re-election. They are running as a slate (they call themselves “the dream team”) — their signs are grouped together at every intersection;  their postcards and four pictures in our mailboxes. They are counting on name recognition and a low voter turnout to ensure a win. These men are benefiting from block voting on Town issues and are supporting each other and their supporters in business and personal matters that are not always in the Town’s best interests.

This is why I will NOT be voting for Phillips, Guignard, Gibbons or Boone and why I will be writing in Ed Humphries (former mayor, commissioner and town manager for Huntersville) as mayor). It’s time the good people of Huntersville, not the angry ones, make a statement FOR our town.

The remainder of this post is long, but I hope you find it worth reading. I hope you do your research. I hope you pay attention:

Because without doing research, voters may well be voting in a man who made close to a million dollars as a commissioner (although he didn’t vote), when his slate approved a rezoning on his land despite the town staff and planning board (volunteer citizens) recommending denial. Voters won’t be aware that this commissioner wanted to draw his own designs for a fire department, recommending that firefighters use the same sink to wash off chemicals and human blood that they also use for cooking firehouse meals, or that he accused a fire chief who has been a lifelong resident of Huntersville of potentially running off with reserve funds (insulting and untrue).

Without doing research, voters may re-elect a person who proclaims to be a small business advocate who has been told by God to purchase buildings. But the research would show that God had nothing to do with this man getting his slate on the town board to demand that the owner of the building next to his be required to improve the building, including the SHARED WALL, or that his slate buddies helped approve a rezoning on another of his properties, or that he was caught stealing from a business owner and denying it (and took chicken biscuits to the entire police department after the business filed a report of the theft), and a week later spit on the hood of a woman’s car — while she was in it — because of where she parked.

Without doing research, voters won’t know that a current commissioner believes in landowner rights, which could very well mean that his excuse for supporting a fellow slate member’s rezoning could also mean that in the future, Soil Supply can do whatever they want and affect his own NorthStone neighborhood.

Will voters be aware of the quid pro quo cases among this slate and the current mayor? Will voters know that the slate of men negotiated a contract on behalf of a vendor, not on behalf of our town? Will voters learn that candidates who have so much money that they can put in ads in the paper and sticky  notes on papers and postcards and signage — have that money because of the donors that have benefited from their power?

Research Jake Palillo. He admittedly spent $50,000 on ads against previous candidates — and recently won a rezoning for a 4-story building on Sam Furr and got his wishes with regard to HFFA and the Town Manager.

From: <jpalillo@aol.com>
Date: June 12, 2016 at 11:14:40 AM EDT
To: <rkidwell@huntersville.org>, <mgibbons@huntersville.org>, <phil3147@bellsouth.net>, <dboone@huntersville.org>, <mbales@huntersville.org>, <gferguson@huntersville.org>, <dpeete@huntersville.org>, <janeralla@bellsouth.net>, <bcoxe@huntersville.org>
Good morning Mayor and Commissioner,

I finally had a little time this morning to read several weeks of local papers and I have a few questions. I spent over 50,000 dollars in the last 2 elections to bring change to the Town of Huntersville. I spoke to several of you during the last elections and you were all pumped on getting in and changing things. The People of Huntersville spoke and showed they wanted change. 
OK…..you have been in office for 6 of your 24 month term. “GOOD” leaders, “SMART” Leaders come in and make all of the changes within the first 6 to 9 months. Jan 2017 you should be bragging about your changes and your success and 12 months from now you will be focused on telling the people why you should be re-elected.  Your window to make change and keep your promise to the people is passing.

Please tell me what this new Leadership has done to improve the Town in your first 6 months? I challenge all of you to tell me the difference between the Swain gang and the this new Mayor and Board? The only claim to fame I see is selling a 3 million dollar Town property to a local developer for 1.2 million. It was a “STUPID” sweetheart deal and I told all of you so. I’ll leave out names for now, you will know if I’m pointing you out.
I met 2 of you at TMAC and was told this deal was “GREAT” and the reason for giving it away for half its value was within 60 days of approving it the people would see the announcement of a grocery store and a large brew pub. This was the start and it was going to start the redevelopment of this area. Its been 60 days…. where is all the great news?

The question I have and you should have is who is the one behind pushing this deal and gathering the support to approve it? This was a sweetheart deal, who’s taking credit for giving it?

One of the biggest changes the Town needed was to get rid of Bill Coxe, the Town Manager and several rude employees.  Everyone of you with the exception of Mrs Bale agreed in the last election this was needed and all of you agreed number one to go was Bill Coxe. He supported the 77 Toll project that the People of Huntersville showed in the election they didn’t want, he chased away businesses and development. His road design ideas are the worst, he doesn’t have a single project ready to go and the list goes on and on. Six months in office and he is still there!  His biggest fan it the Town Manager feeding you-all with BS on why he shouldn’t go and some have bought right into it. One of you told me: Quote, that was how they acted then, I can’t judge them on that, they are working for me now!  BS! They aren’t working for you, they are working for the same Town Manager that was hired by the old Mayor and Board, the same Mayor that will probably run again in 12 months.
One Commissioner said, trust me in 4 weeks Bill Coxe will be gone!  I spoke to him 2 weeks ago and he flipped and he asked me” What do you propose we do without him?. I said are you kidding me? You have a department head that needs to be replaced because of poor performance, doesn’t share the vision you have, doesn’t have a project ready to go, is still supporting the tolls and your asking what do you do without him? He said well you are right they are all true points. I said then let him go and find a better qualified person. 

David Pete and Brad Priest are still in planning giving people a hard time and chasing people away. I sent all of you one example a few weeks ago. This Town as a reputation of being hard to deal with and under the new leadership 6 months in, is still the same. Not a change as been made. NOT ONE!

Here is a prime example of the continued stupidity: Great schools are the foundation of a community. People purchase homes based on the quality of schools.  Meck County schools are some of the worst in the County. We now have Charter schools that are improving education for our children. Lake Norman Charter is a great school and expanding rapidly . Instead of the Town partnering with them and asking how you can help, your jack-ass planning department and idiot Bill Coxe want them to improve Town roads. Not at the entry to the school, miles away.  They are in the education business not the business of improving Town roads. Here is where you could of cut some budget waste, to improve YOUR roads to help the school and ad value to our community. Show the People quality education is a priority in the Town, help schools become better and welcome more to come. Here is your time to show Leadership and fix things…….. you’re failing at even this!  Better yet, lets build another bridge to a business park. You will roll out the red carpet for a company, but stick it in the backside of a school???  The next Charter school looking for a location will look elsewhere because Huntersville is ridiculous!!! 

The swim place still has the same management and sweetheart deal. If you like the management you simply go to the Company and tell them you don’t like the contract and they have two options. Either renegotiate a fair operating agreement or you’re canceling the contract. Its that simple and easy to fix!

New Budget is a joke! I don’t agree in cutting taxes unless there is massive waste, but I do agree with good judgement in trimming fat and moving it to places to provide better services. The Town is a 35 million dollar service business. You collect taxes and provide your citizens services. The Citizens and business owners are the shareholders, they elect a Mayor and Board as Directors and trust they will appoint a Qualified CEO ( Town Manager) who will hire qualified department heads to manage the business (the Town) in providing quality services and a great quality of life. Do some or all of you understand that? Quality schools is a part of the quality of life people in Huntersville want. The Town is not in the education business, the county is but it can be in the helping make our schools and education better by helping Charter Schools develop and expand. Forces their construction costs higher to improve roads is a JOKE!

I have met with most of you and I leave blown away on how little you know about running government or business. Per the law you can’t directly fire anyone, agreed! but per the law you as a group of 4 sit with the Town Manager and nicely and even politely explain to him the new vision and direction you would like to see this Town go. You explain the problem with rude employees that you believe should be let go and you explain you don’t agree with the vision and direction of a department head ( Bill Coxe) and you believe its time to change direction there.
(Hint! Fire him)  If the Town Managers doesn’t take your suggestions you FIRE HIM! He works for you, He is “NOT” elected “You-all are!” You were elected because you promised the people ( your shareholders) you would change things and if you fail the people they will soon FIRE you!   

You “DO” run the Town, it takes 4 of you as a group on the same page. You don’t run a business or Town with poor management because you’re afraid of the termination fee or a lawsuit. That’s the cost of doing business, most or all of you just supported paying millions to terminate the 77 Toll project at the expense of the people of Huntersville.  That requires massive legal fees and damages. That’s  OK, but your afraid to fire a Town Manager who was hired via a contract that says you have the right to fire him if you so desire? In 95 % of the County its a fact newly elected people appoint and hire their own team. Not Huntersville! Here the OLD Town Manager tells the newly elected what to do! ……. and they listen!

Replacing the Town Manager who is trying to steer you in the old direction and convince you to keep bad actors as department heads and staff is the proper thing. The People elected you because they wanted change and want to see the Town go in a different direction. You don’t govern a Town in fear of lawsuits and you don’t listen and take advise from the person you need to replace.

12 months from now someone with the guts and money might replace my yellow ads and get rid of several of you for failing to change things like you promised. No one likes to be called a liar, but right now if I wanted call 3 of you out I can honestly say you lied. You have failed to do what you said.

I didn’t invest my time and money to get favors or be friends, I invested it because I have my children, grandchildren and a business in Huntersville and I want to see good government providing good services, good schools and a great quality of life for them. I have proven I have the guts and money to run ads to inform the people. I don’t want to tell anyone what to do, all I want is for you to do what YOU said YOU were going to do if elected. The one thing people across the Country are tired of is people that run for office, get elected and  then lie.

I have included the Town Manager in this email along with Bill Coxe, Brad Priest and David Pete, unlike some of you I’m not afraid to let it be know that I believe they need to go for cause. I have that right as a tax payer (shareholder)  and want them to know they work for the Town that I pay taxes in. If they don’t like it then one or all come and sue me. 

Unlike some of you I’m not afraid to let them know how I feel, I don’t say things behind their back and I don’t lie.

Did you run for office to change things for the better or get a name tag to feel important? Name tags can be easily changed, but changing the direction of a Town can give great benefits for the people for years and years. 

Please take a few minutes and tell me all the exciting changes over the past 6 months that I missed. Tell Bill Coxe and Ferguson why you ran for election with the platform of getting rid of them and tell me and them why they are still there. Or better yet call me a liar and say you never promised that!

Jake Palillo

Research the owner of the landfill on Everett Keith Road. He won an extension on his landfill permit, despite the recommendation of staff — and he contributed to campaigns of people who voted for his extension. Research the relationship between the mayor and the new contractor for management of the HFFA facility.

Without research, local business owners won’t know that the town board doubled the rent on a fledgling business that was just making a profit. Nor will business owners know that the current mayor and slate of men formulated a resolution to say they would not support the Huntersville Chamber of Commerce. And although they decided not to vote on that resolution, they have said publicly they will not attend any local Huntersville Chamber function. While their excuse to not attend is likely because of MY involvement, in doing so they are dismissing the successes of over 100 businesses in our town and surrounding areas. Not attending ribbon cuttings, not being willing to give updates to our membership on town issues and even purchasing domain names that are similar to HuntersvilleChamber.com, to divert traffic away from our website (purchased AFTER the announcement of the formation of our Chamber) … is not the behavior of a true public servant.  Nor does it help the economic foundation of our community.

WHOIS search results

Registry Domain ID: D186777746-LROR
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.godaddy.com
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2017-02-17T13:00:23Z
Creation Date: 2016-02-16T23:06:30Z
Registry Expiry Date: 2018-02-16T23:06:30Z
Registrar Registration Expiration Date:
Registrar: GoDaddy.com, LLC
Registry Registrant ID: C173193757-LROR
Registrant Name: Daniel Phillips
Registrant Organization:
Registrant Street: 14720 Brown Mill Road
Registrant City: Huntersville
Registrant State/Province: North Carolina
Registrant Postal Code: 28078
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.7045334685

If your tax dollars are important to you, check out how many dollars you are spending because the town board — the mayor and his slate — broke at least two contracts. See if the town board has kept the terms of those contracts or if our Town is liable for a potential lawsuit.

We should be a town represented by people who CARE about the town’s well-being, not their own. All we need to do is research.

Please. For the sake of our town, please research.