Otto von Bismarck (or who knows, maybe it was John Godfrey Saxe) once said, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” CreatveMornings/Charlotte wants to put that to the test.

On Oct. 7 — with local and national elections looming — CreativeMornings/Charlotte invited NC State Senator Jeff Jackson and esteemed chef Cassie Parsons to tackle CM/CLT’s October theme of “Transparency.” In the spirit of our democratic process, they decided to do it as a good ol’ fashioned debate. The two candidates engaged in an enlightening, hilarious and mostly civil discourse on the value and challenges of being transparent in making both effective laws and delicious sausages.

Thanks to Charlotte Star Room, you can watch the video of this one-of-a-kind morning and the speakers’ 20-minute debate here:

Following the electric event, Senator Jackson and Ms. Parsons agreed to answer a few more questions here.

Senator Jeff Jackson

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What got you into politics? What was the first platform you felt passionate about?

I ran because, as a criminal prosecutor, I wanted to see if I could address the root causes of what I encountered on a daily basis in the courtroom. As a result, one of the first issues I connected with was early childhood education. From incarceration rates to graduation rates to income mobility, it became increasingly clear that the biggest piece we’re missing in tackling all these issues is a strong intervention in the early years. Nothing would do more good for more people (and for less money) than that.

Voters have gotten used to a vision or a template of what a legislator should look, act and sound like. You don’t seem like a archetypal politician. Why?

Probably because I’m half the average age of most state legislators. If nothing else, that’s going to change my vocabulary a little. It probably also changes the types of political risks I’m willing to take. I want to reach a younger generation with a newer political message, and that’s hard because they’ve effectively blocked all incoming political traffic. So if you want me to debate a sausage maker, I’m game.

In your mind, what are the truly important issues ahead of us in North Carolina and the United States?

Politics – at the state and national level – has become largely unresponsive to the will of the people. There are two main causes: gerrymandering and the absence of any real limits on how politicians raise money. The effect has been a crop of politicians who are incentivized to pursue interests entirely removed from the general welfare.

On a completely separate note, we also need to start being candid about the wave of automation (in the form of robotics and software) that’s about to hit the economy. We need to get ready, and time is a factor. It will be the central economic challenge of our time.

Cassie Parsons

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What are your favorite ingredients to use in cooking? Why?

Some of my favorite ingredients to use in our cooking are:

  • Red Boat Fish Sauce: It’s made in Phu Quod Island Vietnam. It’s salty and fish flavor makes pork, chicken or fresh fish just pop with flavor.
  • Good ol’ flour, yeast, cane sugar and water to make fresh baked bread.
  • Shiitaki mushrooms: I love drying them for soups and making confit oil for dipping my homemade bread.
  • Potatoes: A great staple in the kitchen, you can make so many different things from this one item

What’s your favorite part of being a chef? What are the reality TV cameras missing or distorting?

My favorite part of being a chef is that I’m intimate, honest and free with what I want to taste, create and serve. Reality TV misses the SOUL of cooking. Everything is so pornographic and hyped up on how the chef is dressed, bizarre attitudes of disrespect, and focused on competition. I love feeling the foods I use in my hands. And, I love working with individuals. This allows me to be free to create and be original.

When you opened your first restaurant, what were your goals? What sets Harvest Moon Grille apart?

My goals were to have fun, make money and spread the word about how beautiful it is to buy food from farmers who care about food and their craft. What sets Harvest Moon Grille apart from the other 2,200 restaurants in the Charlotte area is that I source and buy 90% of my ingredients directly from small, sustainable farmers. And I’m the only chef in this region who actually is a farmer.

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What do you remember about your first experience at the voting polls? What issue got you to the ballot box?

Sen. Jackson:

I remember my dad talking about Ross Perot when I was in fourth grade. I remember that the auditorium in our elementary school was used as a voting location that year, and I remember watching everyone line up outside. I remember asking my mom who she voted for and she said, “It’s a secret ballot, Jeffrey.” To this day she’s never told me!

Cassie Parsons:

I remember excitement to be a part of the collective whole. That I had a voice. Voting is important at the polls. So is buying food. It’s all a choice. Our choice is for greater good or it’s for mass majority.

Have Yourself a Creative Little Morning!

Make plans to join CreativeMornings/Charlotte on Friday, Nov. 11. The group will be on a “field trip” to Boxman Studios to hear Charlotte actress and director Kim Parati speak on the subject of “Fantasy.” Tickets are free and will be available at www.CharlotteIsCreative.com at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 7.

Photos: Wiley Stewart; Video: Charlotte Star Room

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