Featured photo: Laurelyn Dossett emerged as a political voice in March 2012, when she wrote a political ballad against Amendment 1 — a proposed amendment to the NC Constitution that would outlaw same-sex marriage. (courtesy photo)

Laurelyn Dossett, best known by Triad audiences as a folksinger and dramatist, has filed to run for NC Senate in the seat currently held by Sen. Joyce Krawiec (R-Forsyth/Stokes).

Krawiec announced her retirement from politics earlier this month, leaving a vacuum in Senate District 31, which had just been redrawn to heavily favor a Republican. But Dossett had already been eyeing the district for more than a year.

“This has been a little bit in the works for awhile,” the first-time candidate said. “I had been recruited to do this by the Senate Caucus and the governor, and so it came up over a year ago and I just couldn’t even imagine it; just couldn’t imagine it. [But] it kind of kept coming up; I did a new-candidate training this summer.”

It’s not such a far stretch. 

Dossett emerged as a political voice in March 2012, when she wrote a political ballad against Amendment 1 — a proposed amendment to the NC Constitution that attempted to define marriage as between a man and a woman — and recorded it with her friends. But she’s been a songwriter and performer since the 1990s, when she helped found the Americana band Polecat Creek. Her songs have been performed by Levon Helm, the Carolina Chocolate Drops and the North Carolina Symphony, to name a few, and the holiday musical Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity, for which she wrote the music, has been performed dozens of times since it debuted at Triad Stage in 2006. It ran last week, in fact, in Stokes County.

“We just did Beautiful Star,” she said. “I filed for election then went and opened the play.”

Running as a Democrat, she’ll have a primary in March against Ronda Mays (no website), a school social worker in Stokes County and former president of the Forsyth County Association of Educators. The winner of that race will go up against Sen. Krawiec’s hand-picked replacement, former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board member Dana Caudill Jones.

District 31 covers all of Stokes County and the parts of Forsyth outside Winston-Salem. Civitas rates it as R+11, designed for a Republican to win. Dossett is not deterred by the numbers.

“I understand that this district is very Republican, and I am not Pollyanna about that, but I’m also not running symbolically just so there’s a Democrat on the ticket.

“I think that with Joyce Krawiec’s retirement and the redrawing of the lines and some of the things that have happened in NC since the Republican supermajority, there’s a chance for this district to turn,” Dossett continued. “And because I’ve been doing what I do in NC my whole adult life — mom, volunteer,  and all those sorts of things I did earlier, and then as a musician who has raised her voice for a variety of causes over the years — it’s not that big a leap. The platform is different but the principles are the same.”

She’s still finalizing her platform and creating campaign videos; she has not yet hired a campaign director. But the website is up and she has a lot of big ideas.

“Across the country, the restrictions on reproductive freedom have been activating voters,” she said. “Regardless of their political stripes, 12 weeks is not what most people think is good for our system. And like I said, it’s an activating topic. It’s not the only topic — I’m not running on that alone — but it’s the one that may help motivate voters.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized Amendment 1 as a “bathroom bill,” but it was about making same-sex marriage illegal. TCB regrets the error.

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