Sitting in H&L restaurant before their normal lunch rush, Mrs. Hilda, the long time owner of the restaurant, shared her story with me of growing up in Hyde County, making minimum wage most of her life and starting a business here. H&L is one of the few restaurants left in Engelhard and is a community staple. But Mrs. Hilda shared how she has struggled to keep her doors open and often doesn’t make a profit due to rising costs of food and supplies. She told me her rural community is usually forgotten by politicians but they need lower costs, they need investment, and they need opportunities.

Mrs. Hilda isn’t alone in her experiences. So many North Carolinians I know are struggling and feel left behind by Washington politicians. A family I know in Richmond County is struggling to put food on the table because of rising costs. A mom in Rockingham County has to bring her son to work with her because she can’t afford childcare.

On the campaign trail, I spoke with a woman from Yadkin County who has Type1 Diabetes and has been forced to fight with insurance companies to get coverage for the medication she needs to live—and it’s still too expensive even then. I sat with business owners in Dare County who told me about having to close their doors due to extreme flooding and the impact the climate crisis has had on the Outer Banks economy.

I talked to Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all across the state who all faced similar challenges: being able to afford their prescription drugs without skipping doses and splitting pills; finding good-paying jobs in high-demand careers without having to pay for a four-year degree; working two or three jobs to support family, addressing rising costs for farmers and supporting small businesses. These just aren’t partisan issues.

A lot of folks running for office don’t spend time in some of these smaller communities. They hear that’s not where their votes are and they believe it. But that’s not the kind of campaign I’m running. The campaign I’m running is about meeting North Carolinians where they are and showing that anyone who wants to represent our state needs to represent all its people. And while Washington politicians want us to believe that we’re all different – that a person in Asheville has near to nothing in common with a person in Avon, that a Democrat couldn’t be farther in faith and values than a Republican, that is simply not true.

North Carolinians in Clay County and North Carolinians in Currituck County share the same values of hard work, honesty and integrity. We are all working to take care of our families and find opportunities to succeed. We all want to live safe, healthy lives.

We are resilient and committed to our families and communities. But those same politicians in Washington are committed to their corporate donors and political aspirations. And we are all sick and tired of politicians playing politics with our lives. Our lives are not on hold as they use us as pawns in their political games. As industry has left and jobs have gone overseas. As loved ones get sick and clinics close.

For too long, Washington has been putting politics over people, and it’s time for that to change. North Carolinians are ready for it. And no matter what’s been thrown our way, we have hope for the future of our state and we are ready to fight for it.

That hope and commitment for North Carolina’s future is exactly why I’m running for the U.S. Senate. I’m a mom who raised my kids here, and I want them to have opportunities for prosperous, safe, healthy lives. That’s what I want for all our kids and families. What I want for Mrs. Hilda in Engelhard who opens up her restaurant day after day, providing so much to her community.

And that’s what I’m ready to fight for. I’ll carry Mrs. Hilda’s and others’ experiences with me to the Senate—as I work to lower costs and fight for an economy that works for one North Carolina. And I am going to the Senate ready to call it like I see it and lead with courage for all of North Carolina—Republican, Democrat, Independent, from Bryson City to Beaufort County. Because that’s what our beautiful state and her people deserve.

Support independent local journalism. Join  the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Comment on this story at