SP20. Rowan County Commissioners and the May 6 Primary


What We Need

Leaders who are:
1.  more interested in serving Rowan County than in serving politics,
2.  intelligent enough to hear, respect, and consider all perspectives of an issue, and
3.  strong enough to stand up against power-players


Why Rowan County Government Is Not Working Well

Government ceases to function when, on the political 1-10 spectrum, all the players (or the clear ruling majority) are ones and/or tens.  When one political party is able to take over a government body, or when there’s a stalemate of uncompromising extremes, whether it be national, state, or local, that body is in danger of losing the give and take that’s necessary in serving a diverse 2-party population.

Currently Rowan County’s Board of Commissioners is dominated by one extreme mindset and appears focused on holding onto that power above all other priorities.  What we need are, not more ones and tens, but some fours, fives, sixes, and sevens, who are able and willing to work together to find the best answers to Rowan County’s issues.

Many are upset about the commissioners’ recent purchase of the Salisbury Mall property, and the possible tax increase it will bring.  Many are upset at the lack of cooperative effort of the commissioners with other local boards like the School Board and the Salisbury City Council.  Many are upset about the commissioners wasting dollars and energy fighting a legal battle about prayer in government meetings.  Many are upset at the general lack of professionalism being exhibited under Rowan’s name. Voices all over the county are calling for change in our county government.


Why Should You Vote?

Some are saying this County Commissioner election is the most important in many years, because it could either harden the already one-party power play, or it could balance the board again so there is give-and-take in decision-making.  This directly affects our well-being as a people, socially and economically, as well as our reputation to surrounding counties, and even beyond NC.  Rowan is being noticed and talked about far outside our borders, often as a laughingstock.  No one can change this but the voters, and in recent local elections, a very few votes have won and lost the races.


What is a Primary Election?

The main election is in November.  In November the ballot will include candidates from both the Republican and Democrat parties.  Voters will be able to vote for any mix of Republicans and Democrats for the various offices.  The purpose of the primary elections in May is for each party to select its own candidates to put on the November ballot.  In the primary elections, registered Republicans can only vote for Republican candidates, and Democrats for Democrat candidates.  Registered Independents cannot mix votes in the primaries, but can choose to take either the Republican ballot or the Democrat ballot


Why most Independents are likely to opt for the Republican ballot this May

This year’s County Commissioner race has three Democrats and eight Republicans vying for three open positions.  Since there are three positions available, all three Democrats will automatically be on the November ballot, but the eight Republicans must be cut to three.


When to vote

Primary Election Day is Tues., May 6, but you can vote early, beginning Thurs., Apr. 24.  Early voting is preferable for two reasons.  It’s usually much quicker, with no lines; and if you wait until Election Day and something comes up to keep you from getting to the polls on time, you get left out of the vote.

On May 6 voters must go to their own precinct locations. Early voters can vote at the Rowan Public Library in Salisbury.  See Board of Elections website for other locations, times, precinct info., etc.


So who should you vote for?

Two newly surfaced “vote for change” groups, “La Resistance” and “Fix Rowan,” have endorsed the same three candidates: businessman and cattle farmer Jim Greene, Rowan County deputy Jonathan Love, and Lutheran minister Judy Klusman.  Klusman, who has experience in state level government and can add a feminine voice to the all male board, seems an excellent fit for Rowan leadership.

The other five Republican candidates are:  business owner Joe Coladarci who introduces himself as a tea-party candidate;  Brandon Cupp, local gun shop owner and the youngest of the candidates; Greg Edds, a professional and successful businessman and the best persuasive speaker of all eight candidates, but the recent chairperson of the local Republican Party and as politically far-right as a person can be; David Roueche, a consultant in pharmaceuticals; and Jim Sides, the current chairperson of the County Commissioners who also identifies as a tea-partier.


Three Other Possible November Candidates

There are three additional possible candidates for the November election, but they won’t be on the May ballots:  Independents Chris Cohen, Raymond Coltrain, and Gene Miller.  In order to run in November, an Independent must collect 4,000 signatures from Rowan County citizens before May 30.  The Salisbury Post reported on Apr. 18 that Coltrain has made history by being the first unaffiliated candidate to acquire the necessary signatures.

If you would like to help give these candidates a chance to run, you can print their petitions, sign, and mail your (and others’) signatures to be counted.  Your signature is not an endorsement or a commitment to vote for the candidate in November.  It simply allows the candidate the opportunity to run.
Gene Miller
Raymond Coltrain
Chris Cohen


Other  Interesting  Resources

Basic data and photos of candidates

Candidates Forum at Catawba College Tues., Apr. 15 (video)

Almost unbelievable video of Salisbury City Manager Doug Paris treated with disrespect at the Rowan County GOP Men’s Breakfast.  Meet some of the candidates here.

If you haven’t voted before Sunday, Apr. 27, check the Salisbury Post for a helpful collection of candidate and voter information.


Who am I?

I am a registered Independent who dislikes political polarity and who votes for candidates who are able and willing to play well with others for the good of the whole community.  I am a devout Christian who is troubled when elected political leaders purport to have been elected as the county’s spiritual leaders.  I have been called liberal by conservatives, and conservative by liberals, and I think they’re both right.

My views are my own and not a reflection of my workplace, my church, or the Salisbury Post.



SP13. An Open Letter to County Commissioner Pierce

An open letter to Rowan County Commissioner Pierce in response to this article: County Pulls Staffing, Support for Rowan County Human Relations Council (Salisbury Post, June 18, 2013)

Pierce, about the Salisbury Rowan Human Relations Council:
“Following the meeting, Pierce said the organization represents only a segment of the county’s residents. ‘We don’t feel like, in our opinion, we don’t feel it represents all of the citizens of Rowan County,’ Pierce said.”


Commissioner Pierce,

Please say you were misquoted in today’s Salisbury Post, and please say that the entire commission was misrepresented.  Clarify for us citizens of Rowan County that you fully support the mission of the Human Relations Council but just had to make some budget cuts or something!  Please tell us you know and embrace that the County Commissioners are elected to represent all Rowan County citizens. Because if the above quote from today’s Post is actually yours, and if you were not just joking around, you have completely misunderstood the purpose and nature of your elected position.

HRC’s mission is like kindergarten’s mission, learning to get along with others, learning to respect and appreciate those who are different from us.  The HRC’s mission is “to create an environment of hospitality, inclusiveness, acceptance, and appreciation of the diversity of all people” among the citizens within our own county.  It’s about getting along with our own neighbors.

It has become quite obvious that the County Commissioners have not played well with the City Council in a while, and it seemed the HRC was the only place where there was even an attempt anymore.   A couple of years ago when the Salisbury Pride approached the HRC for support, and the Commissioners said they would leave the HRC if it voted to support that event (I know you are new to the Commission and were not personally a part of that discussion), the local PFLAG organization took up that funding, not wanting to see the last string broken between county/city relations.

So, gay people not counted among the citizens, who exactly are the citizens who are being rejected now as the CC pulls out?  The HRC supports the Hispanic Coalition’s “La Fiesta de Rowan,” the “Let’s Get Connected” day which is about respecting the various cultures and religious expressions around our county, the “Meet Your Neighbor” forums to raise awareness of local gang activity and discuss together how to address it . . .In short, Mr. Pierce, the HRC is there solely and specifically to “represent all the citizens of Rowan County,” your exact words of what you “don’t feel” it does.

Could it be, Mr. Pierce, that you and the Commissioners do not embrace your commission of representing “all the citizens of Rowan County,” but rather only those who think, speak, and worship just like you?  Or could it be that you have found yourselves amidst a religiously like-minded commission and have decided to operate as an evangelical Christian organization rather than a government one? (I’m guessing not, because “Love your neighbor” is as basic as you can get to Christianity.)  If so, though, as a Christian, a Rowan County citizen, and an educator who has for many years embraced our students of every race, religion, and cultural background, I have never been so disappointed in any locally elected body.  Please, tell us, Mr. Pierce, this is not the case, as of course you and I surely must be in agreement that your office is not about your own personal preferences or opinions, but about seeking and doing what’s best for our county.  And what could possibly be better for any population than to promote getting along with each other.

Supporting the HRC does not mean we believe that every religion expresses what we consider to be truth, or that every cultural practice is personally important to us.  Rather it means that the people who practice them, the people whose heritage is of those cultures, the people themselves are of value and worthy of respect.

Yes, I saw that you chose to continue to support the MLK breakfast.  For that, I give due kudos.  Now, for diverse language and cultural groups, for diverse religious groups, and let’s not even mention the gay people, I pray you and the other commissioners will go back and study your kindergarten notes.