I have always been really open and honest with you all and I have always used writing as a means of therapy. Over the last few days, I have kept everything inside and haven’t been doing any of that, and maybe that is why I can’t pull myself out of this dark place, so here I am, putting it all out there for you all.
Shortly after the November 2022 election, I was contacted by Congressman Chuck Edwards’ office to see if I would be interested in working for his office. At the time, the position we talked about was more of a case worker position which would mean that if anyone in Western North Carolina called the Congressman’s office needing help with a federal issue — like social security, passports, veterans assistance, anything of that nature, I would be responsible for helping those people.
I know a lot of people were shocked to learn I would even consider such a job since Congressman Edwards is a Republican. However, that shock is based on a very small assumption into my politics. I also believe that so many people were shocked by it means I have done a pretty good job keeping my politics out of my reporting. I have always said that Democrats think I am too conservative and conservatives think I am too liberal and as long as I make both sides equally mad… then I am doing my job right. Now, since I have been asked to resign from a left-leaning organization for being too conservative and a conservative organization for being too left-leaning, I think I can count that as a win… or a really big loss depending on how I am feeling that day.
So if you actually know me, you know that I dedicate every ounce of my being to helping other people. That isn’t to brag on myself or try to boast or whatever else someone behind a keyboard is going to turn into a Facebook post on some obscure social media page I am blocked from seeing. It is just true. I grew up with very very little and I am who I am today because of organizations and programs that were available in the community or through the government. I went on field trips some years because community members sponsored kids in need and made it to ball practices because a friend of a friend’s mom would give me a ride. I ate meals after sports games with the team because of coaches who paid for it without telling anyone and I made it to college on grants and scholarships because some adult submitted my application and paid the application fee when I didn’t even know there was one. I am who I am today because of other people. And don’t get me wrong, that was something my parents always instilled in me. When times were rough and we needed help, there were places and people who helped… but when times were good and my parents were able to help others… they would give their very last penny to someone else because as my dad always said “there is always someone who has it worst and needs it more.”
People always ask “how do you do it all?” Or “why do you do so much?” and truthfully it is because it is an obligation I will carry for my entire life to pay back the debts and show gratitude for those who helped and took on more than they could to help me and others like me throughout my life. So I will always volunteer. I will always help. I will always show up.
It is also a purely selfish motivation. Like so many other people, I am plagued with horrible mental health issues. I struggle with borderline personality disorder and have stages of manic depression that send me spiraling. The only thing that brings me out of those episodes is committing to doing things for other people. So when you see me take on 5 new projects or start some big idea or event — that’s a good indicator that mentally I am in a really bad place and I am doing those things to climb out of it.
And lastly, which brings me to my main motivation for taking the job at the Congressman’s office is because I do not believe in the mentality that when you see an issue or a problem that you say, “I wish someone would do something about that.” Like if trash is on the side of the road — I don’t think “Someone really needs to clean up that road.” I can be that someone. My brain goes straight to “I am going to clean up that road.” When I couldn’t find any resources for car seat safety when Turner was born nearly 10 years ago — I didn’t complain that “someone needed to do something” to fix it… I did something to fix it and that is how Safe Kids Macon County, and now RYSE Macon County was created. I didn’t like the types of fundraisers Turner’s school PTO was doing — so instead of just complaining, I joined the PTO, accidentally became President, and worked to change it.
I spent the last two years being very vocal against Congressman Cawthorn — whom I originally supported. I criticized everything he did. But I am not just going to criticize it. I am not just going to wait for someone else to do something. I hated how abandoned WNC was because of Cawthorn — so I wanted to do something to change it. I wanted to be part of that change and working on constituent services for the next person in that position would be the best way to do that.
So I accepted it. But then the position changed from casework to being the Western Field Representative. Which meant the public face for the 6 western most counties. While I was thrilled for the opportunity, because it really was a tremendous opportunity, I knew that it was going to come with backlash. Because I am not a straight-ticket voting Republican — or Democrat. I knew there would be Conservative Republicans who were not happy I was in that position. I shared my concerns with the Congressman’s office — but we hoped a record of passion would be enough… we quickly learned it wasn’t. I had such reservations about the position I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t announce it. Because I KNEW I am not everyone’s cup of tea and there would be plenty of people upset.
I spent the week before last touring WNC with the Congressman and that went wonderfully. When it came time to announce my position in Franklin, I was so nervous I nearly threw up. But it went seemingly ok. Then the first newspaper article came out that mentioned my position and was accompanied by very kind comments from the Congressman about his support of me and my position.
That is when things went downhill. Over the weekend a Graham County resident sent an email to the Chairman and Vice-chairman of Republican parties in Macon, Jackson, Swain, Graham, and Clay Counties. The letter pointed out that I wasn’t a Republican — as I am registered unaffiliated — even though I was registered as a Republican before switching to unaffiliated because of my profession and that with the exception of once, I have only ever pulled a Republican ballot. The letter also went on to say that I endorsed Democratic liberal Cheri Beasley for U.S. Senate rather than the conservative Republican candidate Tedd Budd — which is true except it failed to mention that I did so because Budd was supposed to appear at an event in Macon County and not only did he not show up with an explanation he also offered no apology. It also noted that I endorsed unaffiliated candidate Jerry Moore — which is true as well as Ronnie Beale. It failed to mention in that same post I endorsed a total of 10 candidates… of the others were Republicans. Because I have always, always been about the person and not politics, and if I can’t be part of their “club” because I do not do exactly as they say… then so be it. Because that isn’t freethinking or freedom or Christian values — that is brainwashing and control.
The letter then goes on to state that I support the “LGBTQ community with such fervent passion” pointing out how I spoke out against denying funding for salaries to employees of the public library over a Pride Month display. Using those examples, the letter stated that by me working for the Congressman it was putting “Conservative Christian Mountain values under attack” and demanded that he respect the overwhelming opinion of the majority of his constituency.
Shortly after the Congressman’s staff received that email, I was asked to resign from my position. It was nearly 8 p.m. on Saturday night and I was at a dinner party with friends. I was told if I resigned I would be provided with a month of pay but if I did not resign, I was being terminated immediately. I submitted my letter of resignation via text that night and via email the following morning — neither of which ever garnered a response from the Congressman’s office. I don’t blame the office. This is the world of politics. I still 100% fully support the Congressman and really do believe he is going to serve WNC well.
Although I had resigned Saturday night, because it was not made public, a far-right Conservative blog (The Daily Haymaker) was provided the letter from Graham County, and undoubtedly with members of my not-so-fan club here in Macon County wrote an egregious inflammatory article about me that has crushed me soul and completely devastated my world.
I am not perfect. I have never claimed to be and I never will be. While this has pushed me to the brink of the darkest depths of depression, I know I will crawl out of it at some point. I will continue to give every piece of my heart to others who need it. I will continue to answer the calls for help in our community, no matter who they come from. I will continue to do everything within my grasp to make our work a better place. I will continue to be a political conundrum that doesn’t fit into a box, forcing me not to “belong” anywhere. I will keep doing what I believe in my heart is right and just regardless of who might agree or disagree. Because at the end of the day, I only have to answer to myself and the Lord those are the Christian Mountain Values that have raised me for the last 35 years and those are the things that have provided me with as many door-opening opportunities as they have resulted in doors being closed and opportunities missed.
I know I have never ever been the easy choice to make for people. From jobs, to friends, to acquaintances, to relationships, to even business partners who have told me while they support and value the Sccop, they don’t want backlash by advertising, and I know that it would be so much easier for everyone if I was less — but I know that even when I am not the easy choice, I will always give everything I have to be the right choice and to make it worth it for those who take the chance.
There is nothing wrong about following your convictions, and there is nothing wrong with not falling into the “left” or “right” box. The people that know you and love you know that you were the right fit for that position. However, the reality is that you’re too good a person for politics. The political world hiss and burn when the light of truth and true genuine compassion are shed upon it. You can do more good in the world outside that system rather than in it. Lick your wounds, then pick yourself up and get back to work, Britt.
I personally appreciate your reporting…. I assume responsibility and accountability for what I read and how I choose to interpret it, as everyone should. I do not believe your reporting has a “direct” narrative(Red or Blue) but even if it did every citizen of this Country has a voice… We as a people are so very polarized (not the first time and sadly not the last) and people can be hateful and singleminded (proven throughout history) I hope one day (I am sure long after I have passed) people learn respect, integrity, accountability and begin to support one another. I may not agree with the opinions of everyone but I respect that is their opinion…. So I hope to continue reading on your reporting and appreciate what you do in whatever capacity you chose to do it… With that said, and to the office that asked for the resignation…. Shame on you for lacking conviction and backbone. Shame on your for continuing to be part of the problem in this negatively politically energized narrative/stigma today. This further constitutes proof with ergency that Term Limits and illegalizing lobbying in all forms which include bullying via financial backing and or misleading information need to happen now………. So disappointed… Get a backbone…
Some would say Rep Edwards is already following what his constituents want not that he doesn’t have backbone or conviction.
I appreciate your honesty and respect your bravery sharing your story! I don’t know you personally, but my heart aches for the what you’ve been through! Don’t worry – it sounds like you are amongst the majority of America that lies in political “middle ground” between the extreme right and left. Hang in there and stay strong! A million people will love to continue to support someone with a beautiful soul like yours! Keep fighting the fight!
When I first heard the announcement that you would take on the role, I thought it was a move of strategic brilliance on behalf of the Edwards office. Apparently he isn’t quite the master tactician since this is a short-sighted and reactive response to let you go. Truly it’s his loss and shows some questionable decision-making coming from the office.
Btw, this will be just a minor blip on your outstanding and impactful career. Keep up your reporting and storytelling on behalf of WNC. Frankly we need your shining light on the dark corners more than sitting in his office doing constituent paperwork…we need you more than ever!!
I am so very Proud of you. I also understand the place of darkness! You have every right. But starting today go and be you! that’s why you have so many supporters. Remember when a door is shut a window will open. thank you for all you do. When you decide to run for office? lol . I will work for you free. lena