Talking Politics with Patricia Kusek + More Deco Ball Photos

“I’m with Her” – Patricia Kusek for County Commissioner

“If you put your name on a ballot, you’re either one of two things – insane or courageous.”

I can personally attest that my dear friend Patricia Kusek, who is in the throes of running for County Commissioner, is certainly the latter.

Since we became friends at an entrepreneurial women’s group meeting five years ago, I’ve often turned to Pat as a mentor. She has graciously offered advice on evolving my business or standing my ground, a shoulder to cry on, or even where to find high-end consignment at amazing prices (Hint, The Real Real).

I was so proud when I first saw her in her new element holding up the red welcome mat at the primary debate. Even though this was a new version of Patricia Kusek as politician, it was so refreshing to see it was still the Pat I know and admire – quick-witted, smart as a whip, and courageous as they come.


Pat says she has the same reason for running she did from the very beginning – although now it’s even more pronounced.

“Election after election, I’d pick up a ballot and think to myself ‘Is this really the best we have?’”

When she was approached to run for office, she was told she would have to commit to meeting 400 new people in the first two months alone.

She smiled gamely and, in her lilting Southern accent, replied, “That’s all you got?”

“I met 600 people in the first two months after I moved to Wilmington, going door-to-door meeting people and talking to them about my financial planning business. I would come home each night and write a personal ‘thank you’ note to everyone I met that day. I still see this as one of the most valuable experiences in getting a feel for our new home.”


Pat and I may fall on opposite party lines but both agree that all election decisions should be based on selecting the best person (as opposed to party) for the job.

“Remove the ‘D,’ remove the ‘R.’ My thinking is you better get an ‘N’ by your name since it’s really about the the betterment and the citizens of New Hanover County.”

Pat feels that running the county successfully centers around being fiscally responsible, which she says is at her core. “Taxpayers would be well served since every experience in my life has led up to here.” She also thinks organization and being positive is an integral part of the foundation.

Over the past 40 weeks Pat has spent campaigning, she’s determined that running for office is not for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of energy. For someone who likes to cross her t’s and dot her i’s, being flexible has also become a necessity. You have to be dressed and ready for just about anything. She’s learned how to pivot quickly between her financial planning business and campaign interviews and events – anything from participating in The Heart Walk, speaking to The Rotary Club to meeting college students who are working on her behalf at early voting.

Patricia with a group of Young Republicans from UNCW at Home Again


To maintain her sanity and health, Pat tries to get enough sleep, make time to eat and exercise, and cuddle with her kitty. She says she finally understands the allure of comfort food. Considering “the camera actually does put on 10 pounds” and she’s had her picture taken “more times in six months than in my entire life” she has yet to cave in and indulge. Although she confesses, “If I could fill up a swimming pool of mac & cheese and dive in, I just might!”

Juggling her day-to-day financial clients with her campaign commitments, she says crackers and pimento cheese with jalapenos has been her saving grace. She may have stayed away from mac & cheese but admits to giving in to a sinfully delicious piece of carrot cake at Sweet & Savory.

“The treadmill has saved my life!” Even if Pat only has 20 minutes when she walks into the door before she has to change clothes and head to another event, she will put on her sneakers with her slip and power through.

No matter what the results are at the polls November 8th, Pat says this experience has been incredibly rewarding. The campaign has connected her and her husband Walter with so many people she feels they may never have had the pleasure of knowing. Folks in line at Harris Teeter often recognize her from her campaign commercials and tell her they like knowing how she got to where she is now – whether it’s her experience working on her parents’ farm or moving up the corporate ladder in a male-dominated field.

“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing people are putting their trust and confidence in you. It parallels my experience as a financial planner, but puts it into a new arena. The support has been incredible. It’s amazing how people have looked for every opportunity to get me out in front of more people. When I ask what I can do for them, they say, ‘Just go win!’”

As for the most memorable moment from the campaign, Pat’s eyes shine as she shares the story of getting into the car with Walter after her last debate. He hesitated before starting the car, looked at her and said, “I have never been more proud of you in 30 years as I am tonight.”


She has had to hold tight to these uplifting moments to counter the down & dirty politics that have been thrown her way from the start.

When asked what she’s learned about herself while campaigning, she quickly responds, “The first thing is that not everyone likes me.”

“Second, not everyone plays by the rules. Truthfully, I should have known that since I was five but I’ve always wanted to believe the best in people. I am still shocked – but not as shocked as before – that people have the capacity to behave so badly.

“At the end of each day, I feel like I am herding the snakes back into the basket again and making sure none of them bite me. If I have nine lives, I like to say I’ve used up at least seven of them. If it’s three o’clock in the morning and you are posting something terrible about someone you don’t even know on social media, that’s the definition of a coward.”


With this experience, Pat feels she has had to wage battle but in a way that still garners respect. She laughs to herself and then shares a story about an experience that happened to her the day before. She pulled up to a stoplight and could feel the person in the car next to hers staring. She turned and made eye contact with a man who rolled down his window and yelled, “Give ‘em hell, Pat!”

“I’ve campaigned ethically, honestly and above board. And no matter the outcome, that’s the way we are going to walk away from this on election night.”

The Deco Ball at Wrightsville Manor
(Graphic Art by Kristen Martinez)

at Wrightsville Manor

Presented by Kusek Financial Group
Event Producer : Jess James
Event Planning: Gather Events NC
Photography: Bella Rose Photography

This enchanted event, my sixth annual event inspired by the joie de vivre,
design & decadence of the Jazz Age era, came to life October 13th.

Carly & Jason Forman – always setting the bar for “best dressed” Gatsby attire



Deco Ball illustration by Kristen Martinez
(inspired by our Deco Ball photo shoot)



Silent auction proceeds ($1,600) + 10% of ticket sales were raised to benefit
Animal Avengers of NC, Wilmington’s newest dog charity. And, all these gorgeous puppies have found fur-ever homes!



Legare of A Ribbon Runs Through It on the feather Paper Moon Photo Booth she hand-crafted

To purchase & download your Paper Moon
portrait by Bella Rose Photography
Click HERE.


The moment artist Michael Kowalski of Ice Sensations unveiled his masterpiece ice sculpture!


Special thanks to The Gather Events gals
for their help in pulling together all the special details for The Deco Ball!


L: Mary Folds, Meredith Jones and Corey Chandler enjoying the set-up via Relic Vintage Rentals. Vintage rug for sale at Jess James + Co.
R: Adore this photo of the featured craft cocktail by Astral Cocktails by Brandi Vaughan


Dr. Tiffany Jackson, Deco Ball sponsor &
owner of Front Street Optometric Care


L: Leslie Smith wearing a dress I spotted for her at Second Skin Vintage with beau Shaun Collins.
R: Kerri Davis striking a flapper pose



L: Burlesque Dancer Meka La Creme
R: Henry & Gracie



Cape Fear Swing Dance Society



L: Kate Marshall, whom I had the privilege to style remotely from Portland, and her dapper date.
R: Donna Starling and Carolina Parker looking lovely on the moon.


Crowd applause selected Best Dressed winner Edie Senter, wearing a dazzling Badgley Mischka dress, among Pat & I’s picks for best attire at The Deco Ball.



L: Sandy Mansur, who took home the most Silent Auction prizes to raise $ for Animal Avengers.
R: The Guthries of Island Retreat Spa & Salon enjoying a night out on the town!


Elena looking totally glam with a vintage 1920’s Ford from Bluewater Transport


Over the moon with Jazz Singer Nnenne Terzian


Grand Cru Food & Wine
( next door at Lumina Station)

Nnenne, Lisa, Jess, Elena having a nightcap at Grand Cru






Tickled Pink owner and Grand Cru co-owner Shanda West


See more Deco Ball photos & purchase your Paper Moon
portrait from Bella Rose Photography







Jess James + Co.

Style Girl Vintage is moving to a storefront on Castle Street!

WHEN: Thursday November 17th / 5-8pm
WHERE: 511 Castle Street in the antiques district

Excited to join the creative community on Castle Street!
John McNair’s beautiful vintage prints will still be for sale here along
with Style Girl Vintage (clothing & accessories) and creative makers along the way.





VIDEO PREMIERE: Solving the Mystery –
Who is Jess James & What does she do?



1 hour, 20 outfits (styled from your closet) for $100

Make an appointment:



Want to have Playboy’s Top 10 Mixologist
slinging drinks at your house party or creating
a signature cocktail at your wedding or special event?
Book Mixologist Joel Finsel of Astral Cocktails now!

* Mention seeing this in the FASHION FIX,
and receive 10% off!

Photo: Leslie Koehn


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