In his 1973 Watergate testimony, John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s counsel, testified that in a conversation with Nixon he told him “there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if not removed the president would be killed by it.” Likewise, there’s been a cancer growing on the Ashe County Board of Commissioners for the past several years which has crippled the county. Republican primary voters have an opportunity to surgically remove much of that cancer in next week’s primary election.
Commissioners Judy Poe, Gerald Price and Gary Roark have served as a three-member voting bloc that has repeatedly acted against the best interests of the county while deeply embarrassing themselves. Unfortunately Roark is not up for reelection this year, but “Price and Poe must go.” GOP voters can do all Ashe Countians a service by voting them out in the primary and giving all voters a slate of exceedingly qualified candidates from which to choose in November.
Voters should recall that Price, who as a commissioner is charged with managing a nearly $40 million county budget, couldn’t even manage his own car and house payments, losing them both. That he’s a self-admitted tax-evading “sovereign citizen” who doesn’t believe in government. That he brought a frivolous lawsuit against our sheriff and two deputies. That his many public statements are often ill-informed and serve to harm rather than advance the county’s interest.
Judy Poe’s poor judgment has a long history going back to her opposition of extending the Virginia Creeper Recreational Trail into Ashe County prior to her election. The short-sightedness of that economic development blunder is stunning as a study released six years ago shows the trail brings Virginia between $2.3 and $3.9 million a year in 2008 dollars. Furthermore, in the aftermath of County Manager Dan McMillan’s forced resignation, Poe, then the chairwoman, gave false information to the media when a Freedom of Information Act revealed e-mails that contradicted her public statements. Following Dr. Pat Mitchell’s forced resignation, Poe threatened the jobs of county employees if they showed any support of Mitchell. Poe has proven she lacks integrity and the fortitude to serve as an effective leader.
Within a two-year period, these commissioners forced two competent county managers to resign without providing any explanation to voters. With that track record of job insecurity, recruiting a slate of highly qualified applicants to fill the self-inflicted void a third time was a challenge. Eventually the board selected Sam Yearick. While perhaps the most qualified applicant, Yearick’s background is primarily in accounting and he lacks the broad experience of Dr. Mitchell. Though I mean no disrespect to Mr. Yearick (I’ve met him and he’s a nice man), as a result of the commissioners’ actions, the county is having to endure as Yearick gets his experience through on-the-job training which could take a few years.
On a separate subject, Donna Shumate is running for District Court Judge. State election law restricts the display of political signs until 30 days prior to early voting which began on April 24. This means her signs shouldn’t have been displayed until the last week of March, but they appeared at the beginning of March. Voters of all affiliations might like to ask themselves if a lawyer who doesn’t comply with election law is ready to be a judge?