By Robert Coffey
The District 11 Republican Party Executive Committee held a forum for all District 11 Republican candidates on Saturday Jan. 25th at AB Tech. The forum required advanced registration due to the limited seating.
Ten of the eleven candidates were present. They were each allowed a few minutes to introduce themselves followed by questions where each one could respond. Finally, they were each given two minutes for a summary statement.
The forum was an excellent way to learn something about the candidates, so I took notes and compiled my assessment of their presentations and responses to questions for personal use. Then it occurred to me that others who had not been there might find this assessment helpful. It is important that voters get enough information to make informed decisions.
While exasperating to the participants and the audience, the technical problems with the microphones and sound system showed how well the candidates could cope with a little adversity. In that regard, the lowest score went to Lynda Bennett although she grew more comfortable once she raised her voice enough to be heard in the back of the room.
I had heard Madison Cawthorn at a breakfast meeting at Dixie Diner the previous Saturday, so I was already impressed. While he was very young and inexperienced, it didn’t show as he handled questions and provided comments very effectively. He had a strong clear voice that did not require a microphone for all to hear.
The following ratings and comments were based on their speaking ability, qualifications and overall impression as shown below.
1. Madison Cawthorn ***** Was a dynamic and very passionate speaker, with extraordinary zeal and appeal. His struggle for life after a near fatal accident that left him bound to a wheelchair left him with drive and determination. He claimed to be a fighter and it showed. While his experience was the most limited, he has worked for Mark Meadows and displayed impressive knowledge for his young age, a strong testament to his home schooling. With clear headed logic, he exuded leadership and drew warm applause from the audience. We will see and hear much more from him.
2. Jim Wayland Davis **** His presentation exhibited self-confidence and extensive knowledge that reflected his 10 years as a county commissioner and nearly 10 years as an NC state senator.
3. Vance Patterson **** Had very successful business experience and he had been donating 25% of his income to charities, foundations and employees. He answered questions well and voiced excellent ideas for improving government.
4. Chuck Archerd *** Had spent quality time with Mark Meadows and his responses to questions plus his small business experience were impressive.
5. Joseph Darren Osborne *** Had impressive small business experience and spoke very well.
6. Lynda Bennett * Had weak background qualifications and was very flustered over the microphone malfunction. She got off to a poor start with a weak voice, but she warmed up with a stronger delivery later. Biggest attribute was that Debbie Meadows has been campaigning for her.
7. Dillon Gentry * Had no resume in the handout and was a mediocre speaker, but he had impressive military experience.
8. Dan Patrick Driscoll * Had impressive military experience, studied law at Yale Law School, and had small business experience. He gave a mediocre presentation.
9. Albert Lee Wiley, Jr. – Despite an impressive career as a doctor and later as a consultant, he was a very poor speaker, did not handle questions well, had to be reminded to stand up, and he rarely looked at the audience.
10. Steven Fakete, Jr. – Was passionate in his presentation but rambled in his delivery with some questionable comments and responses to questions. His background experience was the weakest of all the candidates.
Robert ”Bob” Coffey, Hendersonville, NC—Bob has been attending and photographing political rallies plus working in Republican Party campaigns for many years. He feels that it is extremely important that all voters become properly informed to make good decisions, but he is concerned that too many people fall short of this due to their only listening/viewing biased sources or their completely ignoring all news out of antipathy. This piece was compiled for his own use from notes taken during the referenced forum, but he decided to share it with others.