Candidate replies to comments on donations

I wish to respond to the letter in last week’s paper about campaign fundraising (“Sources of Cooper’s funds concerning”). When I decided to run for mayor I wanted to run a campaign that engaged voters in a conversation about issues.

Turnout in the last North Wilkesboro mayoral election was 21%. Among unaffiliated voters, it was 17%. In the last presidential election, turnout was over 70%. We should want more voters participating in local elections. It takes resources to let voters know an election is taking place, what the issues are and where candidates stand.

My campaign has used resources on palm cards, door hangers, radio and print advertising and t-shirts, mainly from North Wilkesboro businesses, and a video produced by a North Wilkesboro resident. It’s good to support local businesses while getting the word out. It’s also good to have a website telling voters my priorities (growing the local economy, revitalizing the downtown and fixing up our parks).

I wasn’t the first candidate to put up yard signs and a billboard or send out a mailer. I’m doing my best to compete like others. That’s why I’ve been knocking on doors all over town and talking to people about issues and what we can accomplish together.

My campaign contributors are friends and family, as they should be. They’re my parents, sister, brother-in-law, neighbors and former teachers. They’re friends from church, high school, law school and from leadership programs I’ve been part of in recent years. They aren’t seeking influence. They’re people who care about and believe in me. Nor is there an ideological bent. Contributors include friends who are Democrats. But also numerous Republicans, including a former Republican cabinet secretary from Indiana, a former Republican state representative from Ohio, a Republican Senate speechwriter, an RNC delegate from Montana and the last Republican to represent the City of Charlotte at-large. Their politics are their own. I’m running on a local non-partisan platform. I haven’t raised any state or national issues in this campaign, nor should anybody else.

Several contributors are young people who grew up in Wilkes, went to Wilkes Central, have family here and live elsewhere now. One is a childhood friend who grew up across the street from me in North Wilkesboro, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now lives in Houston. Another is a young man I went to church with here in Wilkes and who is stationed elsewhere serving in the N.C. National Guard. We should want young people to feel a connection to Wilkes even when they move away. My contributors also include a former North Wilkesboro mayor and multiple Wilkes Hall of Fame members. That’s as Wilkes County as it gets.

Everywhere I go I talk about how much I love North Wilkesboro. I tell our story and talk about how optimistic I am about our future. People are inspired by that, and that’s a good thing.

I grew up around North Wilkesboro. My family owned a used bookstore on Main Street for 36 years. My first job was delivering newspapers downtown and I practiced law in town. North Wilkesboro has a proud history and I want us to keep that story going. I’ve done my best to serve the community through the Downtown Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, the Catharine H. Barber Memorial Shelter, Wilkes Recovery Revolution, Project Lazarus, and the Wilkes Community Foundation. That’s why I’m running for office now. For the right reasons.


North Wilkesboro, N.C.

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