An open letter to Rowan citizens

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

When any individual decides to file and run for public office, he or she should know beforehand that not everyone will agree with their stand on various issues. Once elected, they will be called on to vote on numerous controversial and non-controversial issues. Their votes will not please everyone. That is politics. That is the way it is now, and the way it was 35 years ago, as best I can remember. I do not see that aspect of the system changing any time soon.
Since I have been elected as a Rowan County commissioner, I have learned to ignore what I felt was unwarranted criticism, and tried to learn from what I felt was constructive criticism. I have certainly received both, but oftentimes found it difficult to distinguish between the two. As an elected official, you make many decisions that impact the lives of thousands of people. Sometimes individuals are not happy with your vote. Sometimes special interest groups are not happy with your vote. Sometimes, it seems “there ain’t nobody happy” with your vote. However, you make the best effort possible to do what you feel to be in the best interest of all the citizens you serve. For me, more goes into those decisions than I could ever explain. Once a vote is taken, and an issue is decided, you move on to the next issue.
In the past, I have chosen not to respond to any open criticism of my position as Rowan County commissioner, whether via newspaper articles, blogs, editorials, Facebook posts, emails, radio programs, etc. I always knew that once I opened that door, someone was sure to walk in and take issue with what I said. I would simply be subjecting myself to more attacks from those who either misunderstood what I said, or those who would misinterpret or misrepresent to others what I said.
Due to a number of recent events, I have decided that I will respond to certain issues now before the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, and more specifically, myself, as chairman of that board. Over the next several weeks, I intend to write three articles, which I will submit to the Salisbury Post to see if it will publish them.
I intend to write one article dealing with the Board of County Commissioners and the Salisbury Post.
Does the Board of County Commissioners speak for the citizens of Rowan County? Or, does the Salisbury Post speak for the citizens of Rowan County? Who speaks the loudest? Which one do you believe does the best job?
I intend to write one article dealing with the Board of County Commissioners and the Salisbury-Rowan School Board. What are the legislative responsibilities of the two boards? Who is in control of what? Why have there been so many years of supposed dysfunction between the two boards? Do you, the citizens, really want to see the two boards get along? Or, do you enjoy the articles in the Salisbury Post that pit us against each other? Who really benefits from all the infighting?
I intend to write one article dealing with the Board of County Commissioners and the Salisbury City Council. What piece of the Rowan County puzzle does the City of Salisbury represent? Why does there appear to be so much animosity between the two boards? What role do the City of Salisbury and the council play in Rowan County government? Should it be more, or less?
In these articles, I will be presenting my opinion, and my opinion only. I will NOT be speaking on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, or anyone else for that matter.
The Bible says in Proverbs 26:20: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” I guess to some degree, I will be seen as adding wood to the fire. Others will no doubt consider me to be the talebearer. However, my goal is to take away the wood from the fire, and to put the talebearer to rest, and to end the strife. I will take one other verse from the Bible, out of context, and pass it along to you, John 8:32: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Once again, you the public, will be the judge of any success from this effort.

Jim Sides is chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Email:

Editor’s note: The Post intends to publish Commissioner Sides’ future submissions.