My Turn by Jon Barber: Why I welcome censure vote
When I was re-elected in 2010, there were things I wanted to accomplish to make Rowan County a better place in which to live, work and raise a family.
During the 2012 election I was associated with two pro-business, moderate Republican candidates: Gene Miller and Gus Andrews.
During the 2012 primary, an unprecedented voter turnout driven by the proposed marriage amendment resulted in Miller and Andrews being the front-runners. During the subsequent runoff election, with no marriage amendment to draw out voters, they lost the election to sitting Commissioners Mike Caskey and Craig Pierce.
Commissioner Jim Sides campaigned for Mike and Craig, I for Gene and Gus.
Sides was elected chairman. Shortly after being elected chairman, he informed me that it had been brought to his attention that I had been making personal copies on a county copier.
Rather than fight, I wrote a check for the copies. I handed the check to the county manager. He subsequently told me Chairman Sides would not accept my payment for the copies.
The things I wanted to accomplish to make Rowan County a better place were now forbidden. Chairman Sides made it clear that it would take three votes to get my items of interest on the agenda. He said it would take three votes to allow staff to assist me. Lastly, he said I would have to go it alone as he held the three votes.
So I did. I worked on them myself. I made copies for these efforts. Then, I was harassed about the copies.
Apparently, it would take three votes to use a copier for these efforts.
He wanted to hold something over my head, to keep me in line.
When I wouldn’t stay in line, when I spoke out publicly, when I voted my conscience, when I ignored their threats — the copy issue re-emerged, eight months later.
I am certain I will be censured. I am certain staff will follow the majority of the board’s wishes to censure me.
They have no choice.
When staff hasn’t followed the wishes of the new majority their jobs and funding are threatened. We have seen this most recently with out Veteran Services Office and within the Inspections Department.
Staff has no choice — they have families to provide for and livelihoods to earn.
Censoring has no legal ramifications; it simply highlights that the board is expressing its displeasure toward a fellow board member.
If speaking out publicly, if voting my conscience and working on things to make Rowan County a better place results in the new majority being displeased with me, I welcome their displeasure and harbor no ill feelings.
I believe it is helpful for the public to understand what is taking place inside their county government and the concerns being expressed by the public with the professionalism of the sitting majority.
County Commissioner Jon Barber lives in Mt. Ulla.
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