Billy Kennedy Takes On Virginia Foxx
Bethel Resident Enters Race for North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District Seat
Party activists and elected officials across North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District began coalescing and rallying around a draft Billy Kennedy initiative some months ago and on Monday, February 8, Kennedy will officially launch his first political campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Edward R. Murrow, America’s great broadcast journalist, believed that rarely, if ever, are there two equal sides to a story. That said, what follows is an attempt to share with readers why Kennedy is running for congress in his own words from a seat in his home in Bethel.
High Country Press began the interview with the question, “You’ve never held an elected position?”
“That’s part of the problem,” Kennedy answered. “People live to run for office becoming career politicians whose motivation is to be elected rather than being motivated to help. I want to help people. [Running for office] is making my life harder. There are givers and takers in the political arena and I think it’s important to give. It’s the best American value. In order to give back, you must first take care of yourself, take care of your family and you’ve got to pay your bills. I’ve worked hard all my life.”
Kennedy raises livestock on his farm, makes furniture in his carpentry shop and has had a home remodeling business. He is married to Rebecca “Becka” Saunders and is the father of three children—Amber Grace, Jessica and Willis.
Kennedy said believes in every American having the freedom to work hard and succeed and not have what you’ve worked hard to earn taken away by someone else.
“We must respect the labor of all people,” Kennedy said. “Right now, hard working people are not being looked out for, the middleclass is in trouble and without a middleclass, businesses cannot thrive in America. I’m outraged by the continuous shift of wealth from most people to the select few. The ratio between the lowest and highest pay in America today reflects poorly upon our values. We can’t afford the excessive compensation and survive and thrive. We should have a more level playing field for all Americans.”
During the interview, Kennedy wasted no time before going after his opposition, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, saying that part of his campaign challenge is to point out distinctions between Foxx’s political ideology and his thinking so voters have an educated choice in November. “The difference between Virginia and us is: we give, she takes,” he said.
“This day and age I worry that people take things for granted, don’t realize how we got here. Virginia constantly says she doesn’t like government and promotes a pull yourself up by the bootstraps mentality of denial. People have been benefiting from government programs for a long time in this country and still are. What would our Fifth District be like had the rural electric cooperatives not been started by the government? The government is our common wealth, our school systems, secure banking, police and fire departments, roads and water systems belong collectively to us all. And it’s our responsibility to manage our collective wealth wisely.
“No one makes it all on their own. We all benefit from successful government programs,” Kennedy added. “Virginia got her BA, MA and ED from our outstanding public North Carolina Universities and she’s been on the dole ever since. She’s been living off the N.C. taxpayers, gaming the system and now she wants to deny the same opportunity she had to everyone else. Just last weekend she said that she didn’t believe that federal funds should be used for education.
“I went to college with the help of federal programs. Last year’s federal stimulus money went to our colleges and local schools supporting, and in some cases saving teaching positions, in this tough economy. Students don’t get a second chance; you can’t abandon them. If their basic educational needs are not met, they become economically disadvantaged, costing us all more in the end.”
Kennedy sees a direct relationship between education and democracy.
”Countries with higher literacy rates have more developed and thriving democracies,” he said. “Investing in education is money well spent. We need an educated workforce to compete. We need good jobs. We need to be leading the world in new technologies, green technologies. We need to promote these new green technologies with tax credits at the state and federal levels. We need to renew our manufacturing base. Bring the work back home.”
When asked if he agrees with Foxx’s nationally publicized statement that, “There are no Americans who don’t have healthcare,” Kennedy responded, “That statement shows how out of touch Foxx is. On our radio show (Kennedy is a morning personality on WATA-AM 1450), High Country Radio’s call-in show, we’ve had numerous conversations about the people right here in our own community who have no access to healthcare. I’m self-employed and understand what it’s like for the average farmer and small businessman to afford the spiraling cost of health insurance. We can’t afford the inefficiency of our present healthcare system. Its costs make us uncompetitive in the world economy.”
After talking at length about healthcare, he said, “Profiting off people’s illnesses seems immoral to me.”
Kennedy’s father was a Presbyterian minister and mayor of Black Mountain. When asked if he has a religious political agenda, Kennedy replied that he thinks of his father’s saying often: “What would make God happy? I’m comfortable with my Christianity.” Kennedy continued that it was not up to him to question anyone’s faith. “The Christian life I embrace is one of service; my faith comes from helping,” he said.
Volunteer service runs in the Kennedy family. In 2000, his wife was the recipient of the distinguished North Carolina Governor’s Award for Volunteerism. Kennedy said that he is also committed to making sure his campaign has a volunteer component.
Foxx had about $1.2 million in her campaign war chest at the end of 2009 and no debts, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. She has the power of incumbency and the Fifth District has an R-15 rating in political statistics, meaning the district is heavily dominated by registered republicans and is not viewed as a winnable seat for democrats by national political pundits.
“The biggest obstacle my campaign has to overcome is that people think that Foxx and her huge war chest can’t be beat. That’s wrong—anyone can be beat,” Kennedy concluded.