Commissioner Melton changes party from Democrat to Unaffiliated

Published 3:15 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

I come to you with a renewed outlook and a vision for local politics here in Polk County. As many of you know, I have served as a county commissioner for the last three years. During that time, while I believe a great deal was achieved, I feel that a board comprised of non-partisan elected officials could achieve substantially more. My vision emphasizes a means by which officials can represent even more citizens in an effort to better serve a greater majority of voters. In other words, I feel that local politics should be non-partisan, and I have decided to declare myself unaffiliated with any specific political party.

I say this because I firmly believe that elected officials should represent people rather than parties. Sure, political parties help establish platforms and garner support, but they also can inhibit prompt decision making as a result of partisan pressures. Elected officials may refuse to compromise on an issue strictly in order to satisfy their fellow party members. Now, don&squo;t get me wrong, this idea is by no means brand new. For example, municipal elections in North Carolina as well as many judicial elections are non-partisan. Also, Polk County School Board election is non-partisan.

I first got involved in local politics because I felt that I could represent and benefit all the people. After much thought, it became clear to me that the best way to achieve that goal is to serve as an independent, thereby eliminating any barriers that could be formed by party politics. I do believe that several accomplishments have been made by both Democrats and Republicans alike in years past. However, I feel that I can be the most beneficial in this role as a neutral party from the beginning. That way, as issues and topics arise, I can make informed decisions based solely on attaining the best outcome for the citizens in general rather than simply the citizens that support a particular party. &bsp;

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In an attempt to further benefit the citizens of Polk County, I successfully ran for county commissioner. During this time, I, with the help of my fellow commissioners, have worked to accomplish many things for the general public including:

&ull; Securing the rights to purchase Lake Adger to protect water interests in Polk County. &bsp;

&ull; Overseeing the restoration of the county courthouse.

&ull; Establishing a comprehensive land use plan to better protect the future of Polk County.&bsp;&bsp;&bsp;&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;

&ull; Supporting healthcare by improving dialogue between the Polk County government and St. Luke&squo;s Hospital in an attempt to improve local healthcare in general.

&ull; Continuing to support the senior recreational center and adult day care.

&ull; Reducing Polk County&squo;s debt by over 30 percent.

&ull; Three cent tax reduction in 2009-2010 budget.

Overall, it has always simply been about making the place better for the folks that live here. Now, after three years as a commissioner, including two of those years as chairman, the time has come to re-evaluate my vision and long-term goal for this county.

In closing, I just want to say that I appreciate all the support in my efforts over the years from the citizens as well as past board members and the fine men and women I presently serve with. These views are by no means a reflection of my fellow board members. My goal is simply to be the best elected official that I can be ‐ and I believe the best way to do that is to serve simply as a Polk County citizen.

&dquo;Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.&dquo;&bsp; ~Richard Armour

‐ Tommy Melton, Polk County commissioner