11th District GOP Makes Border Wall Funding A High Priority
North Carolina primary election voters will decide nominees for a long list of races - from the presidency all the day down to city council. This week, BPR is talking with voters from both parties to get a sense of what will drive them to the polls.
During a Republican candidate forum, voters there had one particular issue at the top of their minds -- immigration.
At the GOP candidate forum last month at AB Tech, candidates vying for the 11th District Congressional Seat were asked -- “why should Western North Carolina care about securing the border with Mexico?”
“There are problems here in North Carolina that are coming from the border," Haywood County Republican Lynda Bennett said.
Problems, she said, like drugs and gangs. Down the line, the candidates agreed.
The 11th District GOP candidates are also in lock step with President Trump, and they are eager to make that apparent. In a campaign ad for Buncombe County candidate Chuck Archerd, he calls himself a “Trump Warrior, fighting illegal immigration in dangerous sancutary cities.”
Being on Trump’s brand seems to matter to conservative constituents in the district.
"I just signed up to volunteer to help our President Trump, and whatever I can do to help him win the 2020 election," Mickey Mills said.
Mills has lived in Hendersonville for 33 years. She says she was encouraged to see that all of the candidates made immigration policy a priority.
"Everything they said made my heart beat faster," Mills said. "One thing I’m concerned about is all the resources that we have to put out for the illegals and the people that should get the resources are not getting them."
Mill says getting funding approved for the border wall is one of her most important priorities as a voter. It’s a policy Trump has failed to get traction on since he took office.
Haywood County Republican Party chair Kenneth Henson says aligning with the president, especially on immigration, is something he thinks is essential to voters in the district.
"We have to make a difference in these four years, because who’s coming next, there’s not many Donald Trumps out there," Henson said.
But another voter from Henderson County had a more complicated answer. Tony Tesona held up a yard sign he just bought. It says "Trump, not politics as usual, 2020."
"I would say that’s the best description of him," Tesona said, chuckling.
He can relate the president's straight talk. Tesona’s been known to be brutally honest himself. He’s a retired orthodontist.
"When somebody brought their beautiful child, and I yelled at them for not brushing their teeth. I kinda sounded like Trump," he said.
When the president says something controversial, Tesona says, he can roll his eyes and carry on for the most part. But when it comes to immigration, it gets more complicated.
"My parents were immigrants. I've been there done that, I was raised a poor kid. My dad built a business from nothing," Tesona said.
His parents immigrated from Poland. That's why he takes it personally when the president denounces immigrants because in his experience, they’re good, hard-working people. Tesona says he’s even helped people who were undocumented get paperwork.
"I don’t know if there’s any simple answer. But you just can’t say they’re all bad. What if they said that about my parents?," Tesona said.
But he’s able to put that discomfort aside. Tesona likes how the economy is faring, so he’s proudly putting his new sign in the front yard.