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I’m Darren Staley and I am running for Senate in the 36th District of North Carolina. I have a life experience that is unlike most candidates who may come your way. I was born and raised in Wilkes County and have lived here the better part of my life.

My story follows that of so many people who live in this district. I’ve seen the manufacturing industry collapse and I saw it from the factory floor. I have seen and experienced the devastation and despair and hopelessness it leaves behind. Like so many people I have been sick without health coverage, without medicine, paying last month’s power bill this month to keep the lights on. Without education. The humiliation of going hat in hand to family and friends.

When I was 17, I dropped out of high school and shortly thereafter went to work at Golden Needles, a local textile factory. This was my vision of the American Dream at the time. It paid good money and beat the hell out of school, which I found largely boring.

Less than ten years later, the factory was closed. I was lost and in despair like so many of my friends. I found myself at Wilkes Community College. The education that had bored me in the past was now an oasis in the desert.

No sooner than I found my footing at WCC I began to suffer from a severe medical issue. I became completely disabled. For every step forward, it was two steps back. During this time, the social safety net, widely mocked by conservatives these days, saved my life.

Without SSDI and the accompanying health insurance, SNAP (aka Food Stamps), education grants, I can’t imagine where I would be today. I saw friends fall to overdose, suicide, divorce, homelessness. Swallowed up in the frustration and anger and resentment that we see playing out so much today.

I got lucky. Support from programs like Pell Grants, TAA, and subsidized student loans made it possible for me to get a Bachelor’s degree. Medicare made it possible to get health care. SNAP helped put food on the table. SSDI kept the lights on. These essential services were the bootstraps by which I picked myself up.

Today I have a Master’s Degree in Legal Studies from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. I am Director of Operations for a small business that provides services to people with disabilities and sit on several committees that advocate for people across the behavioral health spectrum.

I am running for office because I still see so many people getting left behind. Factories are still closing. People still lack access to health care. Education has become part of this larger culture war that only serves to drive students away instead of engaging them. It’s as if we’re going backward, and separating ourselves from each other along the way, instead of moving forward together.

I am running for office as a Democrat because elected officials in the majority party, the Republican Party, seem to be leading this charge to the past while destroying the guardrails of democracy along the way. They are drawing election maps so that no other voice can even be heard, much less win, They are taking away people’s right to vote, and using their supermajority to strip away all checks and balances.

This cannot stand. Everybody deserves a choice. Everybody deserves a legislature that takes every voice, every group, every citizen, into consideration. We have to maintain a balance between labor and business. We have to maintain a balance between the rights of the individual and the common good.

We need to elect people who have a wide range of experience and knowledge. People who will hold the majority accountable and make them earn your vote, not get it because they just say whatever makes you feel good or play to the nostalgia of the “good old days” that weren’t so good for a lot of people. 

Governing is hard work. It’s not just slogans and talking points and constantly running for re-election or seeking higher office. I’m here to do the hard work, not talk the easy talk that sends everyone into their partisan camps. I want to make sure that everyone has a seat at the table and nobody gets left behind. If that’s the type of person you want representing you in Raleigh, I humbly ask for your vote.


@Staley4NCSenate |

Paid for By Staley for NC Senate
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