Ding Dongthe Witch is Dead…kinda

So, there’s been a lot of “Oh thank God, may he rot in Hell” about Senator Helms’s death yesterday. As a nearly lifelong resident of NC, I can honestly say that while I hated his policies, voted against him at every turn, and disliked his politics, I did come to respect Senator Helms. For one very simple reason : For all his faults, Senator Helms always made time for his constituents, and always voted for what he felt was in the best interests of North Carolina and the people here. Right or Wrong, I cannot fault him for doing what he was supposed to do as a representative of the state of NC.

And this sounds pretty odd coming from ME. But I have, over the years, come across more and more examples where Jessie did something extraordinary for the people of NC. From the young black man who was getting screwed by a government loan mix-up that Jessie cleared up, to his support of local farmers and industry, to the people he employed with one and only one purpose : to communicate with and care for the people he represented.

The shining example of this came to me early one morning. I had called Sen. Helms office as part of my duties as Chair of TriLUG – specifically to request Sen. Helms vote against the DMCA and similar bills. His staff was patient, gracious, and very kind. They expressed that Sen. Helms would like to get our position in writing, and gave me the address to send it to. At no time were they rude or rushed.

And it was 8:55am September 11, 2001. They were being evacuated from the building, the Pentagon was on fire, and I had no idea this was going on until someone on IRC told me to turn on the news, because holy crap WTF?!?

And yet his staff made time to listen to a group in NC who had a concern for the Senator.

Jessie, we don’t miss your politics. But damn if we won’t miss your dedication, your service, and the passion you took in doing what you felt was right for the people of North Carolina.

Sometimes, I think we need more politicians with those values.

About Kevin Sonney

Kevin Sonney - who, contrary to popular opinion was NOT raised by wolves - grew up in central North Carolina. He fell into the technology field by accident in 1991, when he gave up the wild and crazy lifestyle of an on-air AM radio DJ to become a mundane technical support monkey. The technology industry has never really recovered from this. Kevin has worked for such names as IBM, Red Hat, webslingerZ, and Lulu Technologies (we won't mention the ones that didn't survive the experience). He currently works as a Linux Administrator for Apptio. In his spare time he rescues stray animals and plays video games with his two sons. His wife, we're sad to say, helps him get past the really hard bits. Kevin is still not very mundane, he just got better at hiding it.
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4 Responses to Ding Dongthe Witch is Dead…kinda

  1. akiko says:

    Agreed, though I never was involved in politics while Jesse was our Senator (being a transplant to the area in 1999.) Beats the hell out of Dole (R-NC DC Dole)

  2. mamculuna says:

    Strom Thurmond was similar. But to me, the real point is the dedicated professional staff (however, of course the staff reflects the Senator’s values). Lindsey Graham inherited Thurmond’s staff, and they are endlessly helpful to constituents, even when we’re known Democrats.

  3. dr_scholl says:

    We had immigration issues. We contacted John Edwards office because we prefer(red) his politics. Nothing happened. We contacted Jesse Helms’ office – and we got a reaction.

    So yeah… I kinda get what you’re saying. And while I really like what John Edwards has/had to say, I was always wary, too, because of that experience.

  4. jpportz says:


    I think you understand now why there were so many “Jessecrats” – people who were Democrats in most local and state matters, but voted for Helms (and usually the republican presidential candidate that Helms supported), in the federal elections.

    You probably are a staunch enough liberal that you might not have voted for him, but many who were more centrist found his commitment to the interests of North Carolina, and its residents, a big reason to vote him into office year after year.

    I miss actually *understanding* local politics… it’s so hard to figure out the nuances after having only lived in a place for a couple years…

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