Imagine with me a political continuum from one to ten with one being extreme Democrats whose every opinion is in agreement with the Democratic Party no matter what, and with ten being the same extremism but of the Republican Party. These extremists believe they are right about everything and that there’s no need to consider other opinions because theirs is the only one that’s right. Rowan’s population includes some of these extremists on both sides, but the vast majority of our county’s population falls somewhere between two and nine, able and willing in varying degrees to listen to other opinions and to work together for compromise and for what is best for the entire county.
County Commissioners are elected to work together as a body to make intelligent decisions that affect the lives of all citizens of the county they serve – men and women of all political affiliations, all religious ideologies, all ages, all races, all language groups, and all economic spheres. Rowan County’s board is made up of five commissioners. Ideally, this would be a diverse group of women and men representing the diversity of the county’s population – perhaps including one extreme Republican and one extreme Democrat, and three others who fall somewhere between two and nine on the political scale.
Unfortunately Rowan’s Board of Commissioners has been operating off balance for the past several years, and this upcoming election is the voters’ opportunity to restore our county government’s political integrity. The tens on our political scale, many of whom call themselves Tea Partiers, have attempted a take-over and have achieved some success.
In 2012 former FOX News sports anchor Rich Brenner was the guest speaker at Rowan’s monthly Tea Party meeting, and he challenged those present to accomplish their goals of electing Rowan County Tea Party Patriot candidates who will impact the future of our country. Whether Brenner ignited the fire, or whether he merely added fuel to a fire that was already hot, the Rowan County Tea Party has steadily been attempting to take over our local political offices and our local newspaper’s opinion pages, and because the rest of us are not paying attention, and also because many of us have fallen for the political rhetoric that says “Republican” and “God” are synonymous (That idea, while a genius political strategem, is definitely not a word from God) they are making some inroads.
The Tea Partiers are the tens on our scale. They are Republican to the extreme with no tolerance or need to hear any other viewpoints; but don’t be confused into thinking that Republicans are all Tea Partiers. Republicans on our imagined continuum are scattered from numbers 6 to 10, and most of the Republican Party has distanced itself from the extremists.
Why are they dangerous? Extremists, whether religious, political, or whatever other kind of group, are always a danger to social order when they are in positions of untempered power or control. That’s why a five seat board is important. We elect five officials to work together for all the citizens of our county. It should work, but it isn’t.
Even those of you who don’t keep up with local politics have probably heard rumblings about the current commissioners not working together with other local officials like the City Council and the Board of Education. Here’s what we voters have unintentionally allowed to happen. Four of the five members of our current board are tens on our imaginary scale, and their ‘informal” outside-the-meeting meetings, leaving out the fifth member, followed by controlled pre-planned voting in the official meetings, are well documented.
With the coming November election, we are guaranteed three new commissioners, and our choices are scattered across the 1-10 scale. The two current members who will remain on the board are tens, so if we, the voters, elect one more Tea Partier, they will retain control of the board, and the imbalance will remain in place.
This is not a political party post, nor is it anti-Tea Party. The Tea Party segment of our county certainly deserves a voice, which is already there. Personally I plan to vote for some Republican candidates and some “not Republican” ones, but if we want to restore order to our local government, we MUST fix our broken board. Your vote, for change or for more of the same, could easily be the deciding vote in a midterm county race. So could your decision to sit this one out.
Rowan County Commissioner Candidates:
Leda Belk, Democrat
Chris Cohen, Unaffiliated (previously ran as Republican)
Raymond Coltrain, Unaffiliated (previously ran as Democrat)
Greg Edds, Republican
Jim Greene, Republican
Judy Klusman, Republican
Rick Locklear, Democrat
Gene Miller, Unaffiliated (previously ran as Republican)
Thurs., Oct. 23 thru Sat., Nov. 1 Early Voting at the Rowan Public Library (201 W Fisher St., Salisbury) and other locations. Check Salisbury Post or Board of Elections for exact times and places.
Tues., Nov. 4 Election Day
*My views are my own and not a reflection of my workplace, my church, or the Salisbury Post.