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"It's Time For Change"
Challenging Richard Burr
“We must decry the failures of justice and equity just as forcefully as we decry violence.”
Cheri Beasley is clearly a human being. She seems like someone who has bought her own groceries in the last decade; someone who would prefer time spent with family over an evening with wealthy campaign donors. In our current political era, Beasely’s ability to communicate a sense of humanity and relatability places her in rare company. Many other candidates and elected officials come across as either aliens sent to Earth for research purposes, or something an algorithm’s spat out to embody a focus-grouped brand image. Not Cheri Beasley.
When she talks about the cases that came before her as a judge in North Carolina, the former chief justice of the Tarheel State speaks sympathetically not only of individuals experiencing one of the lowest moments in their lives, but also of these defendants’ families and friends. “I never got numb,” Beasley has said of her time on the bench. “I was fully aware that every single day, somebody and somebodies were depending on me to get it right. Getting it right didn’t necessarily mean getting them off, but it meant doing my very best for them.” Quotes like these reveal Beasley’s understanding of how interactions with institutions can shape individuals’ lives. In her role as chief justice — a tenure marked almost entirely by Covid — she made changes to her state’s court systems and procedures to ensure that influence was more positive. As a candidate to replace Richard Burr’s vacant Senate seat, she’s seeking to do something similar on the national level.
At a moment of heated partisan divide, Beasley’s tact and touch may be all the more valuable in winning support for important legislation. But if her skills for connecting with constituents on the campaign trail, or answering interview questions with specifics about a people-focused approach make her distinct, Beasley’s resume makes her something of a unicorn.
Cheri Beasley is the first ever Black woman to serve as chief justice in the state of North Carolina. And though she was recently unseated from this position in a squeaker against Republican Paul Martin Newby, she has also won statewide election on two previous occasions (2008 and 2014), when she earned and defended her spot on North Carolina’s Court of Appeals. It is perhaps this record of electability that has won her the endorsement of Emily’s list, and other organizations eager to see the first Black woman return to the Senate since Kamala Harris vacated her seat to become vice president. Like Harris, Beasley is extremely qualified and relatively youthful. At 55, the runway for her political career is long, and she could play an important role in deepening the Democrats’ notoriously underwhelming bench of rising talent.
Prior to serving as chief justice, Beasley was a judge in North Carolina’s 12th Judicial District. Before that she worked as a public defender. She credits working on the Human Rights Commission — between her undergraduate years at Rutgers University’s Douglass Residential College and going to law school at the University of Tennessee College of Law — with inspiring her to become a public advocate. This experience seems to have shaped her career path. Her bona fides in public life (notice the dearth of Ivy League degrees and stints in management consulting) and an unwavering commitment to her community may just give Cheri Beasley the edge in a state that has recently become a toss-up for Democrats and Republicans.
Michael Natriello is a writer from Princeton, New Jersey. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. He teaches Composition at Fordham University, and is at work on a novel.
In an interview with Charlotte’s NPR station, Beasley stated that she believes that residents of North Carolina should have better healthcare. She has yet to state specifically how she hopes to seek improvements in the healthcare system, but according to community members on the Daily Kos, campaign staffers for Beasley have intimated that she is more likely to support an expansion of the Affordable Care Act over Medicare for All.
Black Lives Matter
In the summer of 2020 when protestors across America filled the streets after the murder of George Floyd, Cheri Beasley held a press conference in a courtroom of the Supreme Court of North Carolina to express her sympathies with those advocating for change. In this appearance Beasley stated, “We must decry the failures of justice and equity just as forcefully as we decry violence. It is not enough to say to protesters ‘go home and follow the rules.’ It’s not that simple. We must hear each other.”
On issues of immigration, Beasley’s official stance seems to be developing. She has not stated a clear position on what legislation she supports, but when asked about border crossings that have been stealing headlines, she has expressed solidarity with North Carolina’s Latinx community and has vowed to seek a solution that would be equitable and humane.
On Twitter, Beasley has expressed support for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, citing the importance of a living wage for all North Carolina residents.
Child Tax Credit
On Twitter and in an op-ed for The Wilson Times Beasley has affirmed the benefits of the Child Tax Credit initiated during the Covid-19 pandemic. If elected, she would seek to extend this credit permanently.
Beasley is a staunch supporter of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which proposes to reinstate the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She has also expressed support for HR-1, also known as the For the People Act, which would do considerably more to expand voting rights, curb gerrymandering, and reduce the influence of money in politics.