If you braved the cold temps last January and attended the Class Size Chaos Rally in Raleigh, you probably ran into Jen Mangrum. She was there to lend support.
If you came to the May 16th Rally and March, then you probably came within feet of her. She was there.
Mangrum is an educator. In fact, she is an educator of educators and is the daughter of … yes … educators. In the times that I have been in her company, I have found her accessible, compassionate, and straightforward.
She is the candidate whom Phil Berger will not debate. Even when his current district map was not declared gerrymandered, it was redrawn to exclude the part with Guilford County to include three red-leaning counties.
This past summer, a judicial board ruled her ineligible to run in District 30. Supposedly a challenge was issued on her residency by a rather eager “resident.” Reading about what happened in the initial judicial board hearing seemed more like a script from a movie. She appealed that decision and won.
A recent News & Observer article entitled “Much feared Sen. Berger faces a fearless newcomer” by Ned Barnett gives a glimpse into what might be the most important state election this year.
It surely shows that Berger is not as untouchable as he appeared to be at one time.
When 20,000 public school teachers and advocates showed up in Raleigh on May 16th, Berger and Tim Moore pushed the budget into a “nuclear” option to keep any debate and amendments from entering the process. Many speculate that it was because Berger and Moore wanted to avoid having to talk about public education openly.
Now a teacher is after his seat in the NC General Assembly.
Berger’s office did not respond to a request for comment, but aspects of this race make him look like the skittish one. Mangrum announced her intention to challenge him more than a year ago, but when a new court-ordered map of legislative districts was unveiled in August of 2017, the Guilford County portion of Berger’s district – the portion where Mangrum lived – was gone.
Mangrum, the daughter of a Marine who served in three wars, decided to take the fight to Berger. She rented a home in Reidsville inside the newly-drawn District 30 and, having recently separated from her husband, declared Reidsville her new home a month before the Feb. 28 filing deadline (http://amp.newsobserver.com/opinion/article213216689.html).
To say that Phil Berger is the most powerful politician in North Carolina is not an overstatement to many people. But he seems to want to avoid Mangrum. She has openly invited him to debate. He has not responded.
If you can in any way, please support Jen Mangrum and all of the other pro-public education candidates like Terri LeGrand, Natasha Marcus, and many others.