Stevens growing influence good for Surry County

North Carolina Rep. Sarah Stevens, a Mount Airy-based Republican, showed again last week that she has become an effective, thoughtful legislator during her more than eight years in office.

Stevens voted in favor of the so-called Brunch Bill — SB 155 — which permits local governments to adopt ordinances that allow the serving of alcohol as early as 10 a.m. on Sunday. Prior to adoption of this law, noon was the earliest alcohol could be served on Sunday.

Politically, it was probably more expedient for her to have voted against the law. After all, the vast majority of those in Surry and Wilkes counties, her legislative district, would claim to be good Sunday Christians who believe alcohol before noon on Sunday is a bad thing.

Stevens justified her reasoning behind the vote with a simple statement: “It comes down to a matter of whose religion are we respecting?”

She further explained that Catholics often go to Mass on Saturday, Seventh Day Adventist see Saturday as their day of worship, those of the Jewish faith see sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday as their holy day each week. Even among Christian churches, some have early services that release their folks from church well before the noon hour.

In today’s culture, with politicians and so-called leaders posting gifs of themselves bodyslamming a CNN representative and partisan loyalty seeming to trump even basic common sense, it is refreshing to see a legislator objectively look at the pros and cons of a given issue and make what she believes is the right decision, not necessarily the popular or party position.

Anyone who has watched Stevens’ political career should not be surprised, she’s exhibited this trait throughout her legislative years. While we sometimes find ourselves in disagreement with her votes or ideas, what sets Stevens apart is the fact that she can logically, reasonably explain her positions without resorting to the party talking point cheat sheets.

More often than not, even if we happen to disagree with her position, one comes away from a conversation with her thinking “Yeah, I can see where she’s coming from and why.”

She’s used that measured, thoughtful approach to become not only an effective legislator, but to move into positions of leadership within the House. She’s the vice chair of several committees, including the House Select Committee on Redistricting and the Judiciary I committees, and she serves as the Speaker Pro Tempore.

That last position gives her influence in the General Assembly that most legislators do not have, and she used that influence recently to secure a $100,000 one-time grant for Mount Airy’s Shepherd’s House.

As the county’s only homeless shelter, the Shepherd’s House serves people who have no lobbyist, no one looking out for them at the state or federal level. They are among the most vulnerable people in our community, and the ones who often have no public voice.

Stevens’ ability to secure that grant for the Shepherd’s House is a significant contribution to that agency’s ability to meet those needs, and it shows Stevens is serious about representing all members of her district, not just those with influence or money or membership in the right political party.

We only wish that was the norm in state and national politics, rather than the exception.

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