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Originally appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal.
Joyce Krawiec used to be a PTA mom, but now she's a political activist.
Krawiec is the Forsyth County director for Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group that lobbies for lower taxes and less government. Her unpaid job might take her to Washington D.C. to argue for tax cuts or to Raleigh to buttonhole a legislator.
Or it might involve local organizing, as when she and other members of the group mobilized recently for a "Tar Heel Tea Party" to protest high taxes. On April 15 - tax deadline day - the group held a demonstration at the main post office branch here.
"We were out there for a couple hours while people were dropping off their tax returns," Krawiec said. "We had signs that said 'Honk if you want lower taxes.' It was a lot of fun."
For most of her life Krawiec has lived much more anonymously. She was busy rearing her children and going to PTA meetings and soccer games. She and her husband, Raymond, built a company called J&R Ventures that develops shopping centers in North Carolina and South Carolina.
"I think many of us who have a conservative philosophy are busy for so many years, working, taking care of business," she said.
Krawiec wasn't a total neophyte when she became involved in political persuasion. She worked on Republican efforts to oust then-Rep. Steve Neal, D-5th, by helping to work phone banks for his opponents.
"Mr. Neal kept winning so my efforts were futile," Krawiec said. "In 1992, when President Bill Clinton was elected I was so unhappy. I couldn't believe he was elected. I decided that now was the time that I would get active."
Krawiec became active with Republican women's groups and worked on congressional and Senate campaigns. When Clinton was re-elected in 1996, she stepped up her efforts again by becoming involved with the Citizens for a Sound Economy.
She readily admits that she spends more time fighting taxes than helping her husband plan shopping centers. Krawiec is active in the N.C. Federation of Republican Women as well, and when President Bush visited the area in January, Krawiec was one of the people called to help plan the event.
Krawiec - the name is pronounced "krahvik" - was named a "superactivist" in the year 2001 by Citizens for a Sound Economy. The group has a small staff and depends on volunteers to get its word out, said Jonathan Hill, the state director.
"She has been one of our very best activists across the state," Hill said. "For our rally in Winston-Salem, the first person we called was Joyce."
Krawiec spoke at the rally as well. She is an effective speaker because she "talks from the heart," Hill said.
Krawiec said she has never been one to mince her views on any issue.
"I don't ever bite my lip," she said. "There are many people I disagree with, and I have many friends that I disagree with. I don't insult anyone or offend anyone. If they ask my opinion they are certainly going to get it."
Still, most of her neighbors are probably unaware that she is an activist, she said.
Rep. Lyons Gray, R-Forsyth, said he got on the wrong side of Citizens for a Sound Economy when he refused to sign a no-tax-increase pledge the group was backing. Gray was working on getting Winston-Salem included for high-speed rail at the time,and didn't want his hands tied.
Krawiec "felt strongly about it," Gray said.
"But I want to emphasize 'strongly' in a positive way," he said. "She is not confrontational or any of that sort of thing. She is a good activist and believes in the cause that she supports. She is calmly determined - doesn't raise her voice or get excited. She can express her opinion in a way that you can listen to it and receive it. Some people come up to you and give you down the river before they get their issue out. She is not like this."
Krawiec said she has no desire to run for office and wouldn't want to transform her work into a paid position. Either route might limit her independence, she said.
"Here I can pick and choose," she said. "I can say I am going to the beach."