DD Adams, the Democratic representative of the North Ward on Winston-Salem City Council, recently announced that in 2018 she plans to run for the 5th Congressional District seat in the US House, which is currently occupied by Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx.
Many qualified and solid Democrats have run unsuccessfully in this district, which is drawn to heavily favor a Republican candidate. What made you decide to take on the challenge?
I knew I would be retired. I know I would be fully involved in public service voluntarism. It’s been my plan to do this over the past 20 years.
It just so happened that it fell on the election cycle when a lot of people are not happy with the situation of our country. In the 5th District we have a situation where a lot of people are not happy. I remember when Richard Burr ran for [the seat]. I know the Democrats didn’t have anyone in the pipeline when Stephen Neal [a Democrat who represented the district from 1975 to 1995] decided to not to run. We didn’t have anyone ready to go. It seems like the stars are aligning when the representatives are not responsive to their constituents. I believe now is the right time to flip the 5th.
The 5th District is almost evenly split between urban Winston-Salem and rural areas in the northwest corner of the state. It seems as though the rural-urban divide has become increasingly pronounced in our country. How are you going to handle that?
To tell you the truth, I saw this coming a long time ago because I am on the board on the North Carolina League of Municipalities. It’s an advocacy group that has council members and mayors. When I got on it in 2012 I saw small towns were beginning to lose traction. People were leaving the small towns because the businesses left. The jobs left. Nobody paid attention to that until it became a crisis situation. The thing that we failed to do — not just as a party — is that the bigger cites and the urban cities progressed, but we didn’t even think of the smaller cities and towns, that they needed us to help them survive. The urban centers of the states and the districts need to now help facilitate these smaller cities in economic development.
You’ve served on the National League of Cities and played an active role in the Democratic Party, including serving as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. How do you see yourself transitioning from a position in local government to the federal level?
The focus is almost the same, except [at the local level] there aren’t national issues and international issues. I’ve been trained to do my homework and to read the data and documents for my work career in manufacturing. Effective leadership in government is more than kissing babies. You have to be constantly educating yourself about emerging technology what is the new big thing that’s coming that can benefit your constituents.
There’s always homework that elected officials have to put the time in to. It’s like going to college, but it never stops. You can’t think that all you have to do is show up at a city council meeting because someone will ask you about something you don’t know the answer to. You have to be honest to say that you don’t know the answer but you’ll find out, and you’ll seek out the subject-matter experts.