Reflecting on the Elections: Making a Path Forward in Haywood County

We know that we should celebrate our successes: We turned out in record numbers despite everything they tried to put in our way. In Haywood County, voter turnout reached nearly 30,000– a 43% increase over 2016. 

We know that our on-the-ground organizing played a key role in this incredible turnout at the polls. This year, Down Home created an enormous field program to engage rural voters. We engaged in 28,900 phone and text conversations with rural North Carolinians about voting, and another 11,363 conversations through our Relational Voter Turnout project, having friends talk to friends, neighbors talk to neighbors, and family talk to family. 

We know this matters and has made a difference. We know this because no one else is talking to the folks we are reaching in our communities.

Not all our member-endorsed candidates won, however, we have always said that there is success in their running. Across rural North Carolina, Down Home supported Black, Brown, and working-class candidates who, just a few years ago, may never have considered putting their name on the ballot. It was an incredible success, for example, to have five candidates running for the Haywood County School Board who each considered equity, inclusion, and diversity to be foundational to their campaigns.

We believe and will always believe that our small towns and country places are worth investing our time, resources, and love in. Why? Because we are from here. We were raised here and we are raising our children here. Small town and rural North Carolina has been under-organized as politicians and the big political parties focus on cities and suburbs. That’s why we created Down Home– the decades of ignoring rural working-class and poor folks are over. In Haywood County this election, we were proud to support candidates like Victoria Fox, who know first-hand what it’s like to raise a family while working in the service industry, and Alan Jones, who will stand up for workers at all costs. 

Our work is barely over– It has just begun. Elections and voting have always been just tools in our toolbox as we build power. Just as important is holding those put into power accountable to poor and working-class communities that we live in and love here in North Carolina. And even more important is how we organize and care for each other, right here, at home. 

This election is over, but the need to build power and organize deeply with poor and working-class folks has never been so clear. Come into our work. Down Home organizes year-round, every day, in our rural communities in Haywood County. Why? Because this is our home. 

Will you join us for our next online Chapter Meeting, Saturday, November 21st? Please contact your local organizer, Jesse-Lee, to get involved.