Editor’s note: Tess Judge (D-Kitty Hawk) is challenging incumbent Bob Steinburg (R-Edenton) in the general election Nov. 3 for the N.C. state Senate District 1, which includes Ocracoke.

By Jane Webster 

Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, “the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.” If you win, after all, you have to show up and be vulnerable. In politics, you also have to have thick skin and sometimes take a hard beating. 

In just over a week, remaining voters will go to the polls and decide who we want as our elected leaders. Some will vote straight ticket. Others will vote based on how closely the candidate aligns with their values and ideology. 

A race many are focused on here in northeastern North Carolina is that between Bob Steinburg and Tess Judge. 

By now, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the 11 counties that make up this district who hasn’t received numerous flyers and seen multiple television and social media ads from each of these candidates. 

The stakes have never been higher, and each candidate is in the arena fighting for your vote. 

I’ve watched Tess run a small business successfully, serve the people of this district through her many boards, and often when no one was watching. Not to mention serving her church on a regional and national level and fellow churches. 

And I’ve seen her demonstrate grace under fire throughout this campaign. 

When I think Tess, I don’t see a politician. I see a leader. 

I see a leader who will do the right thing for all the citizens in northeastern North Carolina, whether you’re a farmer, fisherman, police officer, schoolteacher, business owner, waiter or retail store worker. I also see her as a leader for counties beyond her district. 

I see a leader who will think about every voter when she’s making a decision on their behalf.

I see a leader who has the experience and insight to chart a course towards greater access to healthcare, a more vibrant economy, better schools for our students, and better pay for our teachers. Not to mention improving support for our first responders, our policemen and our volunteer firefighters. 

A leader who will roll up her sleeves every day and work tirelessly to champion solutions that can make the American Dream a reality for every man, woman, and child in northeastern North Carolina and throughout our beloved state of the Long Leaf Pine. 

A leader who won’t play partisan politics, who will unite rather than divide and will have influence on both sides of the aisle. 

Like you, I’m tired of the fearmongering, name-calling, and overall ugliness we’ve seen in this and recent elections. 

It’s time to bring civility back to politics and elect trustworthy leaders who have the character to do just that. 

I know firsthand that Tess Judge supports the Second Amendment–is NOT going to take your guns away–but she believes in safe and responsible gun owner rights. She will not defund the police, and she is far from a New York liberal. 

She is Tess Judge, and it is the Tess Judge voice you’ll get in Raleigh.

Faith is at the core of everything Tess Judge does and every decision she makes, and if a woman of faith is known by her fruit, then I’ve never met a better woman of faith.

Tess has been in the arena many times before in her life. So being on the receiving end of her opponent’s falsehoods and attacks is something she can handle. As she likes to say, “When you see these ads, remember, my opponent isn’t just attacking me, he’s attacking you and the values you stand for.” 

Leadership is earned, not given, and Tess Judge has undoubtedly earned and demonstrated throughout her life that she’s the type of leader all of us in this district need right now. 

So I encourage you, as you look at the list of candidates in front of you, Tess Judge or otherwise, ask with your vote, “is this a true leader or simply another politician?” 

Jane Webster of Kitty Hawk, Dare County, is a local philanthropist and civic leader active on numerous nonprofit boards.

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