“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
One local resident is adhering to that old adage, trying a second time to capture the 30th Senate District seat, and for a third time to win a state elected position.
On Thursday, Democrat Ric Marshall announced his candidacy via a block party at the corner of Willow Street and Franklin Street, near the former location of Spencer’s Inc.
Using the empty buildings as an illustration, Marshall stressed bringing more jobs to Surry County, from reaching out to businesses to preparing Mount Airy for their arrival.
“We are always talking about what we can do to bring jobs back,” said Marshall in a pre-speech interview. “But what happens in this area is that we don’t have any sites ready for people to come in. And if there are no shovel-ready sites, or no shell buildings, then they are going to move onto something else.”
The candidate also noted the infrastructure of the county, particularly its water and sewer necessities.
“We’ve got water to the interstate, but we don’t have sewers. That’s where development would be — hotels and those types of things that are going to be toward the interstate. We need to get sewers out there.”
Marshall said he desires not only to bring new businesses but also protect the ones already established. “We’ve got to make sure small businesses here in Surry, Wilkes and Stokes know how they can grow,” he explained, “help them understand how they can also get grants by adding employees or building new structures or building onto their businesses.
“There are grants out there; there’s also funding out there. But they’ve got to meet certain requirements. I want to be able to help make it a little easier for them.”
The candidate expressed hope in making things easier for developers wanting to build within the area.
“If you’ve got developers that want to build a building and are developing an industrial park, they have to pay taxes on that until it’s sold. That’s a lot of money tied up,” he said. “I’d like to see some tax breaks for these individuals, these developers, that want to step up and build a shell building and take that chance.”
Of course, the conversation soon turned toward Marshall’s present and former competition, Don East, who is serving his seventh term in office. In the last election, East defeated Marshall by 31,980 to 15,139 — a winning percentage of 68 percent to 32 percent. In Surry, East won with 11,486 votes versus Marshall’s 6,606.
“Seventeen thousand registered Democrats stayed home,” responded Marshall. “The key to winning is getting the vote out. The key to getting the vote out is getting boots on the ground.”
However, he also attributed his prior defeat not only on Democrats but also on Republicans unwilling to vote for another party.
“The problem is that people so often look at party politics. They don’t look at who is going to do the best job. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. Party politics have gotten us to this situation now.
“Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, people should stop looking into party politics, and look at the person and listen to what they’re going to do and go from there.”
Marshall had strong words for East, offering a small taste of what he would express in his main speech.
“Tell me what Don East has done,” said Marshall. “He doesn’t do anything that helps the citizens and businesses or anything in this county or Wilkes County or Stokes County.”
When asked how his campaign will differ than the last, Marshall answered, “We’re going to be more aggressive. And we’re better organized.
“We’re going to talk with everybody we possibly can. We’re going door-to-door. If it’s a backyard barbecue, and someone will let us talk, we’re going to talk.”
Afterward, Marshall mingled among his supporters, which included his wife, Denise. The two of them live in the Ararat community in Surry. His daughter, Elizabeth, is a sophomore at Surry Community College in Dobson. His son, Eric, is a junior at East Surry High School.
Marshall’s de facto campaign manager, Dr. Cory Stewart, also stood nearby. Stewart is a close friend who worked with Marshall in his 2010 campaign.
“Every event that the Young Democrats have done to reach out in the community, to collect food for the hungry, to collect household goods for the people who need shelters, Ric is always there,” said Stewart. “His desire to help people is unflinching. He gets out of bed in the morning to find a way to help somebody. I really do believe that.”
Catfish Cherry lead singer Tim Elliott was on hand to provide the event’s entertainment. In addition, David Crawford, chair for the Democratic Party of the Fifth Congressional District in North Carolina, spoke in support of Marshall.
Once Stewart, Elliot and Crawford had rallied attendees, Marshall took his place before them to offer his official announcement.
“The seat I’m running for has been held by Don East for the last 16 years,” said Marshall. “I think it’s time for a change.
“Don East is ranked one of the least effective senators in North Carolina I believe we can do better. We have got to do better.
“We’ve got problems in our state, region and in our nation. It’s time to stand up and address these issues, not as a Republican or a Democrat, but as a citizen.”
To a round of applause, Marshall asked the modest-sized crowd to stand with him, before turning his attention to civil rights issues.
“While North Carolina suffers from a bad economy, Don East and his friends in Raleigh attempt to address issues that get us nowhere. They’ve attacked civil rights and the political power of women through redistricting. Is it the 1910s, Don East? Are you kidding?
“They’ve attacked civil liberties of the Hispanic Americans by trying to pass racial-biased laws that have been overruled all over the nation for being unconstitutional,” he said. “They’ve attacked the civil rights of homosexuals by trying to get a gay marriage amendment added to the North Carolina Constitution. It’s already illegal in the state of North Carolina. Why waste our time?
“What has Don done?” Marshall asked, charging that the senator paraded on the Senate floor, “talking about his joy ride of 145 mph down Hwy. 52. Him and another fellow senator [Stan Bingham, R-Davidson]. Again wasting your money on the state floor of the Senate.”
Marshall said, if elected, he would differ from East in two ways. First, he would not support any legislation that “diminishes the civil rights of anyone.
“The right for women to choose what is safe and necessary for their own bodies must be protected.”
Marshall’s second agenda focused on the economy. “The reason we picked this street right here, look behind us. Twenty years ago, we would not have been able to have stood in this street in this time of day. There would have been shifts changing, people going to work. We couldn’t have met here. The street would have been way too busy with workers.
“We need to reach out to the businesses that are not here and invite them to our region, set up an infrastructure that is attractive to bringing businesses.”
Marshall then directed his attention toward a few final thoughts on East.
“Tell everyone that I will work for you. Don East does not work for you. His campaign finance records show that he gets money from the banks and big businesses. He accepted money from the Bank of America after they received a government bailout of what? Your tax money. So who does he work for? You? Or the Bank of America?”
Sen. Don East responds
Following the block party, East commented about Marshall’s run for Senate.
“I don’t have anything much to say about that,” said East. “That is one of the few freedoms we still have in this country. He’s welcome to file. I have very little to say about it. I have no problem with it. Ric Marshall can do however he sees fit.”
Of Marshall’s speech, East was not shaken by the harsh words. He laughed about the candidate’s comments on the “joy ride” down Hwy. 52, noting Bingham had admitting to exaggerating his description of the incident.
“Ric Marshall can say whatever he wants to say. None of it bothers me,” concluded East. “It all rolls off my back.
“I’ll do the best job I can do. And if he’s elected, I hope he does the best job he can do.”
Reach Josh Armstrong at 719-1921 or email@example.com.