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Mark Simeon 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire


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Mark Simeon, candidate for NC District Court District 14 Justice, 2014 People's Alliance PAC Questionnaire

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Mark Simeon 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire

  1. 1. 1 Mark Simeon People’s Alliance PAC 2014 Questionnaire for North Carolina Trial Division Judicial Candidates Candidate’s name ________ Mark J. Simeon _____________________________________ Residence address __ 4009 Cottonwood Drive, Durham, NC 27705-5369 _______ Cell-phone Number ____ 919-599-4896 _____ e-mail ______ ______ About you: 1) Where were you born and where have you lived? When did you make Durham your home? Short answer: Chicago, St. Louis, San Francisco, San Jose, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and in January 1987, Durham, where I have lived and practiced law since I passed the NC Bar 4/22/87. Expanded answer: I was born in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of five, I was moved to St. Louis, MO to live with friends and attend first grade, because, I’m told, I was too young for admission to first grade in Chicago. When I returned to Chicago, we’d moved to Hyde Park and my father was no longer a member of the household. I did not know until years later that he’d been convicted of a felony. In his place was a woman I came to regard as my other mother. After I graduated 8th grade from Ray School, my real mother and I moved to San Francisco (my brother was on his own by then and remained in Chicago), where we lived with her new friend. I graduated Lowell High in 1973 and began college at San Jose State. After three years in San Jose, I trans- ferred to Morehouse College in Atlanta, and graduated with the famed class of 1979. I returned to Chicago after graduation and worked for an insurance company until I was admitted to Howard Law School in Washington, DC. After graduating in 1984, I finally passed the DC bar and worked for Reynolds & Mundy until I moved to Durham in 1987, when I joined the firm of Michaux and Michaux, PA. After two years, I left to open my own practice with Larry Hall, who’d joined the Michaux firm shortly after I did. Larry Hall and I shared office space with Gary Berman until Larry and I both ran for public office in 2002. We both lost. I decided to support Larry’s next run for a different public of- fice instead of running again myself, and to assist him and other can- didates until I was ready to run again. Twelve years later, after wit- nessing Larry Hall’s ascent to NC House Democratic Leader and the elec- tion and re-election of President Obama, that time has finally come. 2) Are you conservative or liberal? Please choose one and then explain your answer. Short answer: Liberal.
  2. 2. 2 Expanded answer: I come from a family of hard-boiled Democrats in Chi- cago. My mother worked for Mayor Daley (the father), and was on the ground floor of poverty programs developed in the 60’s. I was heavily influenced by my uncle Elmo R. Willard, III, the civil rights/criminal lawyer after whom I modeled my career. Willard (my mother’s sister’s late husband) was like a father to me. He, along with Ted Johns, de- segregated schools and public facilities in southeast Texas following the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Uncle Elmo was a member of the Howard Law School class of 1954. Those students helped prepare fellow alum, Thurgood Marshall for his argument before the United States Supreme Court. Willard & Johns fought off the KKK and defended poor people and blacks for little or no money. A public library is now named after Uncle Elmo in his native Beaumont, and a statue of Willard & Johns stands outside the Jefferson County Courthouse. I caught on pretty fast to be wary of the thinly veiled racism at the root of American Conservatism. I watch now in both amusement and horror as modern Conservatives lurch further and further to the Right, and open- ly contradict their own “small government” precepts to appeal to a shrinking, but loud, radical base. 3) Please describe how your religious and philosophical beliefs may affect your conduct and decision making if you are elected. Short answer: While I was raised a Catholic, and in recent years joined Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church (where my wife is the first female deacon in its 100+ year history), my religion’s impact on my public service would best be described the way President Kennedy de- scribed his. To paraphrase JFK, “what religion I believe in should be important only to me. What should be important is what kind of [Durham] I believe in.” … “I believe in a [Durham] where religious in- tolerance will someday end; where all men and all churches are treated as equal; where every man [and woman] has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his [or her] choice; where there is no Catho- lic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind; and where Catholics, Protestants, Jews [and Muslims], at both the lay and pasto- ral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote in- stead the American ideal of brotherhood.” Expanded answer: I am compelled to reveal a personal philosophical be- lief that may indeed affect my conduct and decision making: I believe in faith itself, in non-sectarian self-directed self-determination. I believe in a person’s ability to rise above his or her circumstances. I believe that a person, infused with a burning desire to accomplish a clear, worthy goal, a plan for its attainment, and unshakable faith, can overcome past failures and achieve the most unlikely goals. I am a witness, as I am living it myself. My personal story has ups and downs that have reached heights, depths and paradoxes that will likely rival many who find themselves forced to come to court.
  3. 3. 3 For years, I did not know who I was. I knew I wanted to do something important one day, but in my mind, I was defined as the youngest boy who’s dad was a convicted felon in a unconventional household, with pa- rental figures unlike those of any of my peers. For years, I did not know I also came from a family of great accomplishment: that my fa- ther’s brothers included a Tuskegee Airman, professional recording art- ists, and an educator who was asked by President Kennedy to set up vo- cational training centers in Nigeria. I did not know that my Uncle Neal, who answered “Yes, Mr. President” to JFK’s request, contracted ma- laria while in Africa and died at the age of 46. In tribute to his sacrifice, a high school in Chicago was named in his honor, Neal F. Simeon Vocational High School, now known as Simeon Career Academy, the basketball powerhouse recently led by Jabari Parker to four straight Illinois state championships. A funny thing happened once I learned of my family’s legacy: my ambi- tions made more sense. I felt a sense of destiny, a new impetus to survive and advance. I’m still the same guy I always was, but with a new attitude. Bigger goals. Belief in my ability to achieve, and per- severe through hard times. It has occurred to me, however, that I could have believed in myself even without knowledge of my family’s history, and been just as moti- vated to succeed. It has occurred to me that the only thing that real- ly changed was what I thought, of myself. Eventually, I want to show others who struggle, by my example, and through programs under devel- opment, that they too can persevere, overcome obstacles and succeed, that they too, with the learned ability to control what they think, can accomplish whatever they put their minds to. If I am elected judge, I will have a greater voice. With that voice, I intend share my secret, this philosophical belief in the power in con- trolling one’s mind, with people needing someone or something to moti- vate them away from whatever landed them in court. In appropriate ven- ues, I will help people identify their own goals, and provide proof positive that the secret to attaining them works. If I am elected, I intend to be actively involved in a variety of com- munity-based programs, especially those which will include teaching participants how to avoid negative influences and replace them with positive, productive influences toward worthwhile goals. If elected, I will, by my very example, motivate people who need only to be listened to, to be taken seriously, and offered practical guidance past de- structive obstacles. 4) Please list the organizations (educational, social, charitable, cultural, political, religious, etc.) you have joined or supported. If you have held an office in any of these organizations, please de- scribe.
  4. 4. 4 In addition to the bar associations a lawyer might be expected to be- long, I have joined the NAACP, and served as Legal Redress Chair in the 2000’s. I joined the George H. White Bar Association, the Durham Business and Professional Chain, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, and the Durham People’s Alliance. I led for over ten years as its president, the local chapter of the Morehouse College Alumni Association, Triangle Chapter. I am still active as its Vice- President. I was a board member, and served as president of Durham Companions, a United Way Governor’s One-on-One youth mentor program. 5) If you have had an occupation other than law, please describe the occupation and the work you performed. Who were your employers? Short answer: Yes. Expanded answer: In high school, I volunteered at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California at Berkeley. Between my junior and senior year, I worked as a deck hand aboard a Norwegian merchant vessel, the M/S Melsomvik, which transported lumber from Washington State to Japan. In college (SJSU), for two summers, I was a cabin leader and unit di- rector at Camp Mendocino, a summer camp associated with the San Fran- cisco Boys Club. I also worked as a courier for a public relations firm, and as a ramp serviceman for United Airlines at SFO. While in college in Atlanta, I summer interned at Grady Memorial Hospital. Af- ter I graduated Morehouse, I was a Loss Control Representative for Aetna Life & Casualty in their Engineering Department based in down- town Chicago. In law school, I interned with the late Hon. William S. Thompson, I sold live crabs at a sea food market on fisherman’s wharf, and interned with the United States Department of Health and Human Services. I also worked as a dormitory resident advisor (“RA”) for Slowe Hall on the main campus of Howard University, where I resided. After law school, I worked as an intern for attorney R. Kenneth Mundy, and after I passed the DC bar, worked as an associate with attorney Arthur M. Reynolds, Sr., minority bond counsel for the District of Co- lumbia’s industrial revenue bond issuers. I moved to Durham in 1987 to work with Mickey and Eric Michaux (Michaux and Michaux, PA). I left after two years to open my own prac- tice, until I ran and lost a 2002 race for District Attorney of Durham County. For a short while, I earned a Series 6 securities certifica- tion and worked for a life insurance agency. Soon thereafter, I re- vived my law practice dedicated mainly to traffic violators and people seeking relicensure. I got very good at unraveling complex license suspensions and carved out a niche as the “traffic court guy”, the go- to-guy for license restoration, a title i still enjoy today. Unfortu- nately, few people could afford the fees for the work that needed to
  5. 5. 5 be done, so I often did the work for people who needed it, just be- cause they had nowhere else to go. In 2006, in order to pay for my daughter’s tuition at Durham Academy where she has attended since the first grade, I took on a second job — my “morning work” — delivering daily newspapers for the McClatchy Corporation. Cutbacks in the news- paper business, and one too many late deliveries led to my firing and reassignment to a more limited publication, but I still maintain a de- livery contract to this day, and when I don't hire out the work, I still deliver papers myself. I was surprised to find delivering newspapers as gratifying as it was humbling. “This is building character” I would convince myself. Maybe I suffered a touch of Stockholm Syndrome, but I protested like hell when I was let go. I cannot adequately describe the irony of invisibly de- livering newspapers in my hoodie to people who unknowingly hire me to defend their kin. Or in finishing my route only to see my own picture on the front page. One customer waited outside her house for me one dawn, just to see if I was the same Mark Simeon she had seen on Court TV the day before. Having lived in two starkly different worlds, every day without fail for years, is bound to give me a unique perspective on the bench, and enable me to relate to people who resort to desper- ate measures to survive in ways few others can match. 6) Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense other than a minor traffic offense (such as speeding)? If the answer is yes, please describe the circumstances and the outcome. No. 7) Have you personally ever been the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit? If the answer is yes, please explain the circumstances and the outcome of the case. I presently am the claimant, on behalf of my mother’s decedent estate, in a wrongful death action in Cook County, Illinois (Chicago). The case is still pending, a year after her painful death. I have never sued anybody, but have been and am currently a defendant in several lawsuits against me for debts owed, including a student loan, and var- ious consumer debts. I have employed counsel to assist me in working out payment plans. I have never declared bankruptcy. I intend to honor all my debts, even if it takes forever. About your practice of law: 8) Please describe your practice as a lawyer. Be specific. Describe the areas of your practice and your specialties. If, over time, these have changed, describe the changes. Describe your client base as a part of your answer. My practice, over the last 25 years in Durham, has been predominantly as a criminal defense lawyer. I handled a few personal injury cases, and spent years on the court-appointed list, where I defended indigent people charged with felonies. I’ve tried lots of jury trials, including some against the incumbent in my race, while she was a prosecutor,
  6. 6. 6 winning some, losing some. I argued (oral arguments are rare) and won a new trial for Adrian Bruce Howard before the NC Court of Appeals. My most memorable jury trial victory was State v. Eldraco Hobson. He was one of four teens charged with armed robbery of an ice cream par- lor at the Commons at University Place. All the other kids, including the dominant one who pulled the gun at the counter to the surprise of the other kids, accepted plea bargains and reduced incarceration. My client, a shy follower, did not want to go to prison at all for some- thing he didn't do, so we took it to trial. Something about him struck a chord with me in the “There, but for the grace of God go I” sense. His mother sat silently in the front row during the week-long trial. When the jury returned to announce its verdict, you could hear hearts pounding. The foreman’s “Not guilty” verdict was met with sobs of joy and relief that I relive whenever I tell the story. Young “Dre” resumed a normal life and started a family. I was introduced to the little girl at CenterFest this summer. Knowing she would never have been born had we not worked so hard to acquit her father, and that her father proved worthy, gives me immeasurable satisfaction. In recent years, my law practice has been devoted to helping people struggling with impossibly suspended drivers licenses. While not a lu- crative area of practice, I represent an underserved market of people whose circumstances have caused them to lose the privilege to legally drive — to work, to worship, to take their kids to school, anywhere. Most are people who driver’s licenses were suspended for failing to timely appear or failing to timely pay their fines, people who are otherwise safe drivers. 9) If you are a judge in the trial division, please describe two trials over which you have presid- ed which best illustrate your abilities and temperament as a trial judge. Explain why you selected the cases you describe. Not applicable. 10) If you are not a trial judge, please describe two of your cases that best illustrate the abilities and temperament you would display as the holder of the office you seek. Assuming this question is also for judges, but those who are not trial judges, it is not applicable to me. But if non-judges are expected to answer, I would point to the Hobson case, referenced above, as an ex- ample of my willingness to fight for justice against the odds, and save a youngster from prison. Among the traffic cases I would cite in- clude Davina Van Buren, who posted a review on, and many oth- ers with “impossibly” suspended driver’s licenses that I fought hard to restore. 11) If you are a sitting judge seeking reelection, are you satisfied with your North Carolina Bar Association Judicial Performance Evaluation scores? Do you think the evaluation process is valid
  7. 7. 7 and the results a fair indication of your performance? Using the survey categories in the evaluation, please indicate what steps, if any, you plan to take to improve your scores. If you are not a sitting judge, please evaluate yourself as the judge you think you will be if you are elected. Please use the five survey categories and in your answer take into account how you think other attorneys would evaluate you. If I were able to grade myself as a judge, my overall performance av- erage would be 4.6. I would score fives in Integrity & Impartiality; Professionalism; and Communication, and fours in Legal Ability and Ad- ministrative Skills (I don’t know everything, and I’m sure there will be a learning curve in my first term.). 12) Have you ever been publicly or privately disciplined by the North Carolina State Bar or any other professional or occupational licensing authority in North Carolina or any other state? “Disci- plined” should be read to include reprimands, censures, and warnings in addition to license suspen- sion, surrender, revocation, and disbarment. I have never been publicly disciplined after over 25 years of law practice. However, I recently received a conciliatory “warning” about the way I went about obtaining relief from a 20-day failure to comply suspension, relief that the complaining Chief Judge denied, when she intercepted a motion intended for the Judge it was originally before. The matter has been dropped, concluded with no discipline, but I’m still trying to undo the damage done when the Chief Judge made the first judge invalidate the Strike Order originally approved, without a show cause hearing, and without any due process where I could have been allowed to explain what was clearly misunderstood. To complicate things further, it turns out that the original judgment was never signed at all, which I contend invalidates the original plea and the original obligation to pay imposed at sentencing. It’s a rather lengthy file, but I can attach the documentation to this reply, if I’m given permission to disclose details. But it highlights the need for simpli- fication of the process by which 20-day failure relief is obtained, a change I intend to help bring about in Durham if elected. Is the State Bar or any governmental authority considering a complaint against you at the present time? No. Have you ever been found in contempt of court? For each “yes” answer, please provide us with a full description of the action taken, when it was taken, the authority in question, and a statement of the facts and events giving rise to the action or complaint against you. No. 13) Please describe the nature and extent of any pro bono work you have done. Is there a pro bono matter to which you have contributed that best illustrates your values?
  8. 8. 8 I do a lot of pro bono work, but not as a part of any formal pro bono program. I do so much work without being fully paid, that I consider it pro bono. I help a lot of people in license restoration cases who pay what they can, which is usually well below the value of the services rendered, in terms of the time spent and expertise involved. In DWLR cases (driving while license revoked), for example, rather than simply help- ing the person avoid the 120-day jail sentence, I undertake to solve the underlying causes of the suspension. Often these fixes require re- opening old cases, or seeking MAR relief (motion for appropriate re- lief), or seeking 20-day failure (FTA or FTC) strikes on cases already disposed. Often these underlying cases are in different counties. Sometimes, there are errors that weren’t the driver’s fault — errors which added years to suspensions, but which must be undone. Few law- yers do this kind of work because few people can pay for the man-hours of work required. Still, when these fixes are necessary to the suc- cessful resolution of problems causing suspensions, I always do them, even if uncompensated. It gets even worse — more time-consuming — when prosecutors object to the relief sought, and judges withhold approval without the DA’s consent. I’ll have to wait to speak with someone with greater authority, and wait for a judge not so inclined to disallow the relief sought. Concerning law and policy: 14) What are your views on the death penalty and the way death penalty cases are handled in North Carolina? As a matter of the administration of justice, what should the courts and legislature do about the death penalty? Inasmuch as I, as a District Court Judge, would not have to decide any death penalty cases, I believe I am permitted to express my personal view: I am against the death penalty. I do not believe in government- sanctioned homicide for purely punitive reasons, or for any other rea- son that is not self-defense or related to an imminent threat of na- tional security. Witnesses and law enforcement officers and judges and juries are all human, and sometimes wrong. Wrongful imprisonment can be halted and compensated. Death is irreversible. Since 1976, accord- ing to, there have been 143 exonerations for death row inmates, nationwide. North Carolina has had the 7th most exonerations of any state. Exonerations by race break down as follows: Black -73; White - 57; Latino - 12; Other - 2. Moreover, the quantitative evidence suggests a troubling disparity in the death penalty’s application, based on the race of the defendant and the victim: ● Executions by race since 1976: White - 767 (56%); Black - 470 (34%); Latino - 108 (8%); Other - 24 (2%).
  9. 9. 9 ● Race of Victims since 1976: White - 1530 (77%); Black - 309 (15%); Latino - 135 (6%): Other - 50 (3%) ● Executions for interracial murders since 1976: White defendant/Black victim - 20; Black defendant/White victim - 269 ● The current death row inmate population in North Carolina: Black - 83; White - 64; Latino - 4; Other - 8 Furthermore, it wastes precious financial resources: A 2009 Duke study said that the death penalty cost North Carolina $11 million/year more than if there was no death penalty. The article can be found at 15) Do you perceive any racial discrimination in the criminal justice system? If your answer is yes, what should be done to combat it? Yes. The statistics cited above support that perception. In my humble opinion, more should be done to more thoroughly vet candidates for public office. It bears noting, however, that the problem is not al- ways solved by electing public officials from minority communities. Anecdotal evidence in North Carolina suggests that the current crop of minority judges are harsher on minorities than their predecessors. More important than skin color, in my opinion, is the candidate’s rec- ord of support for defending the rights and privileges of underserved, disenfranchised, and socio-economically disadvantaged populations. There continues to be a serious problem with racial profiling. 16) What are your views on the rights (including whether any such rights exist) of homosexual persons to marry? Did you vote for or against Amendment One? At the risk of opining on something that may come before a District Court judge, I respectfully withhold my personal views on same-sex marriage. Instead, it may be illuminating to reveal my personal experiences and reveal, for the first time in a forum this public, that I was the child in a same-sex household, when we moved to San Francisco. It was 1969. I was 13. My mother, a bona fide firebrand, was out, outspoken and adventurous. People either loved her or hated her, or both, my whole life (and hers, too). There was no pretending that Doris was an aunt because she was white (my mother was black). I will admit that initially, when I finally caught on (they denied my initial inquiries about it), I was uncom- fortable and even resentful, because of how I perceived it might re- flect on me. Indeed, I was picked on, as the new kid in the ‘hood (“He’s from Chicago — let’s see how tough he really is”), and I lived with a chip on my shoulder, often overcompensating, fearful of having
  10. 10. 10 to bear the weight of my mother’s relationship. To make matters harder, I was a late bloomer — a small, diminutive, baby-faced adolescent, who struggled with being taken seriously as an athlete, and as a young man. I went from being among the first chosen in pickup games in Chi- cago, even after my peers matured before I did, to being overlooked entirely among San Francisco kids who didn't know me. It was particu- larly challenging as a black adolescent. Unforgiving homophobia was rampant in most African-American communities in the 70’s, even in San Francisco. But I evolved. Over time, I came to love Doris. Her family treated us like family, and I eventually became their most ardent defender. I learned how to fend off my mother’s detractors, even within my own family. My newfound courage coincided with my late growth spurt, and I was finally secure in any environment. That served me well when I decided to transfer to Morehouse College, a move that initially raised eyebrows among uninformed friends who ques- tioned why I would leave “the good life” in California to attend an all-male college in the South. Atlanta in the 1970’s presented its own challenges, but studying at the college famous for producing Martin Luther King, Jr., and later, at the law school that trained Thurgood Marshall only strengthened my inclination to defend people’s rights, including their choices regarding sexual preference orientation. I voted AGAINST Amendment One, and support same-sex couples’ rights to love whoever they want, marry whoever they want, and divorce whoever they marry. 17) Do we incarcerate too many people in North Carolina? Yes. Do we incarcerate the right people? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For years I have been troubled by what appears to be a presumption of guilt. Many judges who were formerly employed as prosecutors seem to carry that mindset to the bench. They promise to overcome their “us good guys vs. them bad guys” mentality by assuring voters that they will “treat everyone equally”, as if the scales of justice start out perfectly balanced. Many of those who have never defended people do not fully appreciated the fact (and the law) that to the extent one party starts out with an advantage, it is the accused. The presumption of innocence is bedrock, not a technicality — it is the very foundation of our criminal justice system. Defense lawyers often get castigated for defending “those people.” I still sometimes hear, “How can you de- fend that drunk driver, when you KNOW he’s guilty?” I cringe when I
  11. 11. 11 hear prosecutors boast that they “could never defend criminals”, as if those who do are without honor and deserve no respect. Defense lawyers defend the Constitution. Their principal job is to make sure that eve- rybody — including the government — plays fair, and follows the rules. I continue to be surprised that more defense lawyers don’t seek judge- ships. We are the ones most accustomed to maintaining law and order, in its truest sense. Please explain your answer. What sentencing policy changes would you support in your role as a tri- al court judge? Would you advocate for these policy changes publicly and to the North Carolina Sen- tencing and Policy Advisory Commission and in the North Carolina judges conferences? I do not like the idea of wasting tax payers’ money feeding and housing people who are not dangerous. All too often, jailing people increases the likelihood that they will re-offend, once they are branded as a criminal. Sentencing offenders to active jail sentences ought to be a last resort, and only when necessary to protect the public from them. Studies show that when people are first exposed to crime, they abhor it. After a while, they come to accept it. Eventually, they embrace it. When we throw people in jail, all too often, we accelerate the likelihood that they will continue down the wrong path. Why not take advantage of the opportunity at the District Court level to get their attention and do more to change the trajectory of their lives, back to productivity? Yes, I would advocate publicly for more judicial discretion in sen- tencing. 18) If elected, will you support the following programs: the Drug Treatment Court, the Criminal Justice Resource Center, STAR, the Mental Health Treatment Court, the Veterans’ Court, the mis- demeanor diversion program for 16- and 17- year-olds, and the newly established pretrial services program? If you have reservations about any of these programs please explain them. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES. I have no reservations about using these programs. In fact, if elected, I will use my voice to ad- vocate for even more and better programs. Your politics: 19) How are you registered to vote? Have you ever changed your registration? If you have changed your voter registration, please explain why. I am a lifelong Democrat. I have never changed my registration. There was a time when I considered infiltrating the Republican Party in an effort to bring moderation and to try to make positive changes from the inside, like General Colin Powell, but it’s too late. The more I listened to conservative talk radio, the more I saw of people like Lee Atwater (before his deathbed conversion), and the more I see of
  12. 12. 12 what the Koch Brothers are doing, that more certain I am that I could never be a Republican. I abandoned the idea entirely. I have respect for black Republicans like Howard Clement, but those like Allen West literally make me ill. 20) Who did you vote for in the 2008 and 2012 presidential and gubernatorial elections? I voted for Barack Obama and Beverly Perdue in 2008 and 2012, and for President Obama and Walter Dalton in 2012. 21) Have you ever been active in the campaign of a candidate for elective office (by active we mean acted as campaign manager, treasurer, or paid staff, or contributed more than $2,000)? If the answer is yes, please list the candidates and the offices they sought. I have never been paid for my work on campaigns, but I worked tire- lessly for Obama for America (now, Organizing for America) in 2008 and 2012. I was selected from among other volunteers for special assign- ments when Vice President Biden came to Durham, and when The First La- dy came to Chapel Hill. I was on track to assume a leadership position when my mother suffered a massive stroke and I had to spend lots of time in Chicago. 22) If you are elected, do you envision any community involvement beyond the specific duties of the office? If yes, please describe that involvement. Most definitely. See my previous answers to questions 3, and 17 (3rd subquestion). I plan to be the living embodiment of resilience and an example to those who lack the confidence to persevere. My whole life I have met challenges, and I can share what works for me with others. Thank you for your prompt and thoughtful response to our questionnaire. Thank YOU for asking the kinds of questions that will reveal true col- ors — and not just those that are skin deep.