Skip to Main Content

Advocacy Angle: Insight of a Different Sort 

By Scott Mooneyham, NCLM Director of Public Affairs

In the previous edition of Southern City, my League colleague and fellow writer Ben Brown wrote a profile of state Sen. Bill Rabon that presents quite the different side of one of the most powerful legislators in the state. Make no mistake, as new chair of the Senate Rules Committee and a longtime chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Rabon is one of the big dogs at the North Carolina General Assembly. That legislative profile, like others, featured a question-and-answer format where much of the focus was, as it should be, on the policy and the process that takes shape in the Legislative Building in Raleigh.

In Senator Rabon’s case, though, the questions were put to him against a backdrop of performing his day job – running a veterinarian practice in the coastal town of Southport. It proved an interesting, and at times for Ben, challenging backdrop, as sometimes Senator Rabon’s furry clients demanded attention and forced a few pauses (and pawses) in the interview. Those interruptions put the spotlight, not so much on a state legislator, but on a dedicated veterinarian prone to laughter and still in love with his profession four decades after first opening his practice.

In our politically polarized world, it has become increasingly easy to see those on the other side of the political fence as the enemy, regardless of which side you sit on. When that person enjoys actual political power as an elected official – at any level – turning him or her into an object of scorn becomes even more instinctive when there is a failure to agree on policy or ideological choices. Meanwhile, the larger public can lose sight of the fact that most of those involved in the political sphere are driven by a desire to make changes that they believe will right a perceived wrong or make some part of the world a better place.

The profile of Rabon was a reminder of how, at the end of the day, our state legislators are just people with many of the same kinds of aspirations and foibles and hectic lives as the rest of us. His profile is hardly alone in that respect. In this current issue, you can read about how state Rep. Becky Carney of Charlotte very nearly lost her life when her heart stopped one day while at her desk in her legislative office (See Finding a Way, pp. 28-32). Going back a few issues, Rep. Chuck McGrady of Hendersonville discussed how his love of the outdoors brought him to North Carolina and led to a lifestyle change from corporate lawyer to youth camp owner.

Our member profiles offer an even deeper dive into the lives and longings of municipal officials, providing not only a look at their personal lives but at their efforts to improve their communities and the opportunities for the residents who live in them.

These are pieces, we hope, that can be helpful in bringing people together, maybe prompting readers to reach out to those featured in them in a positive manner, and maybe, just maybe, reminding us all that we are all in it together when it comes to trying to build a better North Carolina.