2016 Election Candidates in Attendance:
- Charles Meeker – NC Commissioner of Labor
- Floyd McKissick – NC Senate, District #20
- Barbara Howe – NC Senate, District #20
- Mike Woodard – NC Senate, District #22
- Brenda Howerton – Durham County Commissioner
- Heidi Carter – Durham County Commissioner
- Wendy Jacobs – Durham County Commissioner
- Ellen Reckhow – Durham County Commissioner
- Danielle Adams – Durham County Soil & Water Supervisor
Elected Officials in Attendance:
- Jillian Johnson – Durham City Council
- Don Moffitt – Durham City Council
- Cora Cole-Mcfadden – Mayor Pro Tem
- Natalie Beyer – DPS Board of Education, District #4
We began the evening with some awesome food prepared by chefs Ricky Moore of Saltbox Seafood Joint and Andrea Reusing of The Restaurant.
Both chef’s gave speeches before Tone Touch performed an impactful spoken word piece that reflected on personal challenges with the conventional food system.
We then moved into the auditorium for a panel discussion moderated by Shorlette Ammons of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems and NC A&T University. Generally speaking, the candidates seemed supportive and educated on the issues and clearly indicated interest in working with DFFN in the future. The following five areas were discussed:
- All candidates agreed that access to healthy, local food is a critical focus and a number of key areas were surfaced including education, the Corner Store Initiative, focus on public land and community gardens, and further investment in farmer wholesaling options and GAP training.
- Candidates spoke to the importance of supporting farmers and suggested boosting support for existing programs including the Farmland Preservation Program, funding for land easements, grant matching for urban and rural farms, and establishment of small business incentives for farm and food. Candidate Carter raised the possibility of a Food Policy Commission to support these programs.
- Regarding support of farm workers, all candidates, except for Candidate Howe, agreed on needing a $15/hr minimum wage in NC. Additionally, Candidate Howe and others stressed the importance of fixing immigration laws to better protect immigrant workers. Durham County offices already have a $15 minimum wage, but HB2 prevents them from requiring the same of vendors.
- Protecting local watersheds have been, and continues to be, an area of importance to all candidates. Candidates noted that Durham county has made great strides in this area, but more can be done by working with farmers and by reducing urban runoff to enable watershed protection. Senators McKissick and Woodard stressed the impact of state and federal actions and encouraged the audience to get out and vote to protect NC watersheds at all levels.
- Food waste was recognized as an important issue. Candidates focused on education, attitudes toward food, and teachings of the Good Samaritan Act. Candidate Adams mentioned the need for county-wide composting facilities.
- Closing remarks from the candidates reiterated commitment of the forum participants and the need to work across all levels of government and citizenry. They want to hear from us! Commissioner Jacobs restated the need of a county Food Policy Commission to support increased focus on local farm and food issues in Durham.
Following the panel discussion, a good number of people, including Senator Woodard, continued mingling at Ponysaurus Brewery for a nightcap!
Videos of the panel discussion, chef’s speeches, and Tone Touch’s spoken word can be found on our Facebook page HERE.
Below are a few pictures from the evening! You can check out the rest HERE.
Finally, a DFFN volunteer wrote about his experience at the event and published it HERE. Be sure to check it out!
DFFN would also like to thank our co-sponsors for the event Toxic Free NC, Student Action with Farmworkers, MomsRising, The Scrap Exchange, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, Durham Co-op Market, Eno River Association, NC WARN, Green, Reinvestment Partners, Recyclique/a project of CommunEcos, and Slow Money NC.
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