A Day at the Beach and a Vote Lost

Most of us know Winston Churchill’s quote, “Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains”. While I disagree with this sweeping generalization, I do identify with the sentiment that our political ideals, goals, and choices change with the various tides of our lives.

In my 20s, I would have felt the ‘Bern’ during the 2016 presidential election. In my late 30s with two daughters and a fire to break the glass ceiling, I wept when Hillary Clinton lost. A decade ago, I would have railed against the slightest suggestion Senator Lindsey Graham may be one of saviors of our democracy. Today, I admire his commitment to questioning a weak, corrupt presidential administration, while disagreeing with him on just about everything else. I am a great example that personal politics are not static.

So, when I first saw an invitation (see below for full invitation) to a fundraiser for City Council At-Large candidate, Stacy Miller, my younger self was excited with thoughts of the beauty of Figure 8 Island. The comfort of a past life of privilege and private school society teased me with thoughts of shagging to the Embers and a visit to a yacht club.  Quickly, my identity recalibrated.  I remembered I have a kid in a Title One public school. I have neighbors who use food stamps. I shop local. My family has a shelter dog (who is awesome). I co-founded Activating Families Across Raleigh. I am informed, motivated, and woke.  Stacy Miller’s campaign event with promises of cool ocean breezes and beach tunes created a brief conflict between my past and present self, but the newer and improved me quickly decided he had lost my vote.  And this is why…

The choice of campaign location creates doubt that Stacy Miller has his pulse on the real needs of Raleigh. In a city that prides itself on local businesses, the Miller campaign is denying local caterers, service works, and rental companies the opportunity to work and reinvest campaign monies into our city. While Raleigh is struggling to find affordable housing for its residents, Stacy Miller is holding an event on some very pricey NC real estate. As Raleigh still tries to figure out transit, Miller’s campaign is renting private coaches to transport guests to the beach. With drinks and music flowing, it is unlikely the most privileged Raleigh residents will look over the “beautiful view of Figure 8 Island” and choose to discuss the huge disparities of accessibility in our city.

As an active member/co-founder of AFAR and a mother, my political lens has recently changed to focus on the family unit as political entity and family engagement in the political process. AFAR encourages family-friendly political engagement and asks candidates to consider inclusivity with every event. Therefore, it is disappointing to see the Miller campaign charging $25 per child to attend the event in Figure 8 Island. Unfortunately, it does not feel like an effort to make the event family-friendly, but means to raise money from a population that is ineligible to vote.

Every campaign holds various fundraising events to pay for the expensive nature of running for office. Yet, this campaign event is indicative of a candidate out of step with the majority of his constituency. It is my hope this criticism of Stacy Miller and his campaign is a reminder to not be swayed by entitlement and exclusivity, but to find leaders who want to make the view better for us all.



Ryan Johnston

Raleigh mom, nurse practitioner, and co-founder of AFAR, writes about how Stacy Miller, Raleigh City Council At-Large Candidate, lost her vote.