When you watch Dan Besse engaged in the act of listening-- the simple human act of listening to someone-- you glimpse the young man who left law school with a commitment to serving the poor of North Carolina as a legal aid attorney. I doubt that he's changed much physically since those days; he's still tall and rangy, with that same long-distance runners poise and economy of motion. But it's not that he's leaning down to hear you so much as he's just plain come to meet you, much as he used to call on older clients, house bound people and the women with small children whose legal travails were his responsibility in those early years as a young lawyer.
Around my hometown of Winston-Salem (where he's served on the City Council since 2001) Dan's known as the consumate mediator, and this listening posture, this comprehending stoop, is well known. His ward is perhaps the most wildly aggregate mish-mash of business and residential interests in the city, hosting two major hospitals, the Stratford Road commercial corridor, the historic Ardmore neighborhood and several brand spanking new housing developments. And yet he was reelected after his first term without opposition: here is a man who can satisfy some very different folks' desire to be heard, to be treated fairly, and to approach their own government on an equal footing.
But Besse is far from a simple local pol. He's been present on state-wide boards and commissions for land-use, clean air and water resources since the early 1980's. As most successful conservationists do, he takes an expansive view of environmental issues: preservation now for the future good. Good science should inform use policies. Strong environmental and health policies make good economic sense.
Please look at Dan's website for specifics (danbesse2008.org) on his biography and positions on all the issues, but join us here at my blog for new media content in the upcoming weeks and months ahead. I've just begun an exciting new documentary project with Dan's campaign that I hope will help my fellow democrats get to know the man I consider to be a major force for conscientious leadership and simply one of the smartest public servants our state has ever produced. Period.