NEWLAND — While the 2018 congressional election still seems far off in the future, congressional hopeful D.D. Adams is hitting the ground running in the High Country. The Democratic candidate, who hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx to serve as the representative for North Carolina’s 5th district, spoke with Avery Democrats during an informal meet-and-greet at Kaye’s Kitchen on June 23, sharing her life story and her ambitions for elected office.
A life of hard work
Adams, a Winston-Salem native, grew up the middle child of seven and attended college at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where she earned her degree in communications. Upon returning to W-S in 1976, Adams found it difficult to find a job in her chosen field, partially due to the recession that had hit the country in the years prior. Thus, she began a career in manufacturing that would last 38 years.
From beginning as a machine operator at Schlitz Brewery, where her older sisters worked, she eventually became a quality technician in the brewery’s lab. Adams recalled the brewery as a union environment, where Teamsters negotiated with management for better wages and benefits, in turn forcing tobacco producers such as R.J. Reynolds to raise their standards to keep from losing employees to the breweries.
In the early 90s Adams was politically active as a delegate for Bill Clinton and a campaigner for Jim Hunt. As political calls to the brewery began to increase in volume, she says the management became unhappy. With the winds of change in the air, she resigned, bid farewell to her coworkers and went to do something else after 18 years.
After a brief stint working with Seaman Corning in the fiber optics industry, she began work as a shipping supervisor at Johnson Controls in 1997. Eventually, Adams worked her way up to a management position, where she remained until retirement in 2013.
Politically, Adams has been a member of the Winston-Salem City Council since 2009 and is currently in her third term. In her tenure on the council, Adams describes herself as a person who can get things done and who respects the opinions of others.
As a retired person living on Social Security, two retirement pensions and a stipend for serving on the city council, Adams says she understands the difficulties of retired people living on a fixed income. She also shared her belief that every American should have a “baseline of health care.” Above all, she described her greatest priorities as work, education and health care.
Adams spoke of the need to look to the future with economic development, seeking out ways to reinvent communities throughout the Fifth district, fostering partnerships with businesses both big and small and invigorating agriculture through the emerging farm-to-table market. She went on to say that she sees a special need for this type of development in small towns, saying she would advocate cooperation between governments to help make this a reality.
“We have some of the best land in the country right here in the fifth district,” Adams reflected. “We used to grow tobacco, we had textiles, we had mills, we had furniture; we had it all. But when the world changed, and the leadership didn’t see the change coming, we weren’t ready. When it left, some of us just had our own little pity party, and some are still having it, but it’s our responsibility to take care of each other.”
While recognizing that manufacturing has changed, she also advocated that Americans need to make things to get ahead in the domestic economy and the world as a whole. She further advocated expanding opportunities through workforce development, community colleges and by beginning career education as early as middle school.
“We can help create micro-manufacturing,” she said. “Everybody wants to create something. I’ve been in manufacturing all my life, but if you’re not making something, you won’t make it. Our country won’t make it, your state won’t make it, and your city won’t make it. Somebody has got to make something. In America, we set the benchmark for making everything... I believe a person can have a purpose and a quality of life through employment. Work has a purpose.”
Challenges moving forward
As a Democrat, Adams said she recognizes the challenge she faces in rural Republican strongholds in Avery County and throughout the Fifth district. Yet, she hopes that to connect with people in these areas by illustrating the similarities that we share and by having the kitchen table conversations about the challenges they face.
“I know what it’s like,” Adams said. “My parents sent us to the farm every summer until we were 15 to work. I saw the hard work. I’ve been unemployed. I’ve been downsized. I’ve been without heath care. I’ve filed bankruptcy and I know what it’s like when you can’t get credit. I know what it was like to have to fight all that and never give up.”
While this tour marks Adams’ first visit to Avery County during the campaign, it will likely not be her last. Moving forward, Adams will face off against Winston-Salem educator Jenny Marshall in the primary in May 2018. The winner will take on Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx in the November 2018 general election.
For more information about the 2018 Democratic challengers, click to www.ddadamsforcongress.com and www.marshallforhouse.org. While Foxx’s campaign website, www.virginiafoxx.com, has not been updated since her 2016 victory, her Congressional page, foxx.house.gov, is updated regularly.