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.