Updated: Sep 26, 2022
Over the weekend I attended Asia Fest for the first time, helping out a conservative grassroots organization working in conjunction with the NC Asian American Coalition. For those not familiar with the event, every year the Town of Cary and the group Asian Focus host a litany of vendors and performers at the Koka Booth Amphitheather as part of Asia Fest.
The one day event generally sees upwards of 10,000 visitors. The event has about a 100 exhibits and activities for visitors to enjoy, such as games, stage performances, crafts, dragon boat races, and an diverse spread of Asian cuisine. The event is without a doubt one of the biggest events the Town of Cary puts on every year.
It should be no surprise than that the event draws in a large number of independent vendors who gladly pay for the immense amount of exposure that happens in the span of a single day. Everybody from the local YMCA to real estate agencies and grassroots organizations sign up for what is an ideal marketing environment.
For candidates and political organizations, the one day event is equal to about a week of canvassing. School board, nc house, nc senate, and congressional candidates mingle about vendors, families, couples, and performers. Most candidates who have voters in Cary make it a priority to attend.
As a municipal government, the Town of Cary is very careful in projecting an attitude that is nonpartial to candidates, despite perhaps leaning more privately towards one over another. It has been understood that anyone that wants a seat at the table is welcome to pay for the privilege to do so.
It was a little surprising then that the Democratic candidate for District 13, Wiley Nickel, was availed the extremely beneficial opportunity to take the stage and speak. Nickel was briefly introduced and spent a few minutes talking to the crowd about the upcoming election.
As someone that went to middle school in Cary and met several elected town officials, I was surprised by the change in stance. Towns generally hold back their own political preferences for the benefit of their residents and political discourse. If a municipal government endorses a candidate it carries a lot of weight and can certainly tip the scale.
This opportunity that Nickel so graciously received was not given to any of the many Republican candidates in the crowd. This move negated any previous attempts of impartiality that the Town of Cary had cultivated. Even worse it might violate state law as public funds went towards putting on the event.
Nickel's time in the spotlight was likely not a privilege he had to pay for either. The only price Nickel fronted was a few boos from the crowd. If Nickel was given preferential treatment, the Town of Cary has some questions that require answering.