An Asheville Democrat going up against Congressman Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, in the May primary held his first town hall meeting in Waynesville at the library last Thursday.
Hoping to gather more name recognition and answer voter questions, Cecil Bothwell led an almost 90-minute-long meeting in which he addressed a variety of topics ranging from his electability to education. The mostly liberal-leaning audience also asked about subjects such as alternative energy, limiting the power of lobbyists and a tax on stock trading.
One attendee asked for Bothwell’s response to comments that he has no chance of beating Shuler.
“The first thing I say is: Obama never had a shot at being elected,” Bothwell said. “The election sometimes brings surprises.”
In past interviews, Shuler said he is confident that he will receive the Democratic nomination and is focusing all his efforts on defeating the Republican candidate.
Rick Bohleher, of Waynesville, said it is Congress that must change, not the president. Congressional leaders, whether Republican or Democrat, have caused problems in the U.S. for decades and are easily swayed by lobbyist contributions, he said.
“I would have a baseball bat over my door saying ‘This is for lobbyists,’” Bohleher said.
Democrats need to stick to their convictions, Bothwell said, adding that current congressional Democrats have caved too quickly amid pressure from Republicans.
A popular subject following state budget cuts, education has been a key topic of discussion among politicians from both sides of the aisle and voters.
Local leaders should be allowed more control over education, Bothwell said, and the government must look for ways to make higher education more affordable.
“Kids shouldn’t be getting out of college with $60,000 in debt,” he said. In some countries, college is, or is very nearly, free for residents.
Vanessa Ezekowitz, of Waynesville, suggested a similar solution to N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue. Perdue is advocating to raise the state sales tax three-quarters of a cent to help offset the education cuts. Ezekowitz proposed raising the tax a full cent.
Meet the candidate
Congressional Candidate Cecil Bothwell to hold Town Hall Meeting in Sylva at Lulu’s on Main from 9:30-11:30 a.m. on Feb. 11.