UNION COUNTY — Democratic state Senator Jeff Jackson stopped in Monroe on Monday afternoon as part of his statewide tour. The tour, covering all 100 counties, is part of his campaign to possibly fill the U.S. Senator seat (in 2022) once held by Richard Burr, who is retiring.
Jackson said the tour is meant to be a “massive showing of good faith” and to achieve that, he intends to listen to citizens.
In an exclusive interview with the Enquirer-Journal, Jackson discussed his campaign objective.
Knowing that Union County has voted consistently red, Jackson described campaigning here as an “uphill battle.”
Admitting he is not an expert on all 100 counties in the state, Jackson said the idea is to start with “humility.” He aims to listen first and act second. He is not going to each county to project an agenda on residents, but rather let them share the issues they care about the most.
Jackson is hosting virtual, outdoor town hall meetings in each county. He places a cardboard box on top of the trunk of his car, then sets his laptop on the box. He uses an earpiece to listen to participants in the town hall, which was especially useful in downtown Monroe, where Jackson hosted his most recent town hall. He parked next to the historic courthouse. A cacophony of noises from construction on Hayne Street and regular traffic nearly drowned Jackson’s voice out.
Union County was Jackson’s fifth stop on the tour.
When speaking with the Enquirer-Journal, Jackson said one reason why he did not bring an agenda with him to Union County was because it is difficult to write an agenda for a county that is not quite rural, but not urban either. Though it has experienced exponential growth in recent years, there is still a large discrepancy between the eastern and western sides.
Jackson describes the county is the “intersection between rural and urban.”
“You can’t call Union County a rural county,” Jackson said. “It’s just grown too much over the last 15 years. It’s a county that’s integrating rapid economic growth with a culture that predates all of that.”
As Jackson discussed the COVID-19 pandemic, he shared what he has learned about being a state leader: “When you’re facing a challenge like a pandemic, part of the challenge is that there aren’t bombs going off, there aren’t a bunch of helicopters flying overhead — a lot of the typical signifiers of an emergency situation aren’t present and so it’s easy for people to feel like they aren’t in an emergency, like we’re not in a crisis. It’s easy for complacency to set in. One of the jobs of a leader is to constantly find ways to reawaken people’s awareness and conscience around how their personal behavior affects other people.”
He said leaders who do not find new ways to raise awareness are “failing.”
Jackson has served in the North Carolina Senate since 2014. He represents District 37, Mecklenburg County. He is also an attorney in the Army National Guard JAG corps, in addition to being a captain in the North Carolina National Guard.