Local Democrats dont merit party corruption charge

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2010

To the Editor:

Warren Watson encouraged me to run for County Commissioner in 2006. Before I registered to run, just two years ago, I specifically asked Warren if the Democratic Party called the shots or told elected officials what to do. &bsp;

I asked because I would not have run in the first place had that been the case.&bsp; Warren assured me that it was not the case.&bsp; And he was right.&bsp; The Democratic Party does not call the shots or tell elected officials how to vote.&bsp; Why is he now saying the opposite of what he told me then?

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One does not need to run as an unaffiliated candidate to represent all the people.&bsp; We three Commissioners who remain Democrats, Ray Gasperson, Cindy Walker and I,&bsp; have indeed put aside political affiliation since being elected. &bsp;

We represent all citizens of Polk County including Republicans, Democrats and Unaffiliated voters, even citizens who do not vote.&bsp; When a constituent comes to one of us, we usually do not even know the constituents party affiliation, and it does not matter.&bsp; We try to help them regardless of whether they might have voted for us or not. It simply doesnt matter.

Warrens charges of corruption at all levels of the system, including the local level, are simply unfounded. &bsp;

I know of nothing that the Polk County Democratic Party has done that could responsibly be characterized as corruption.&bsp; Nor do I know of anything that Ray Gasperson, Cindy Walker or I have done that is corrupt.&bsp; But that is how a number of Polk County voters have told us they understand Warrens corruption allegation.&bsp; I am greatly offended by that allegation. And I have asked Warren to retract that allegation in the newspaper.&bsp; Warren has stated to me in a private email, My comments were not an attack against you or any of the Commissioners, but rather the flawed system that is politics and political parties.&bsp;&bsp; &bsp;

Yet as of the time I submitted this letter, Warren has refused my request that he, himself, confirm that statement publicly.

What youre seeing in Warrens recent action and statements in the Tryon Daily Bulletin is the behavior of a very disappointed and angry man who wanted very badly to be chairman of the Board of Commissioners. &bsp;

Warren urged that being chairman would help him get re-elected.&bsp;&bsp; He also argued that he was the only member of the Board who could control Tommy Melton,&bsp; in Warrens own words.&bsp; But having observed Warrens behavior in office, in open and closed sessions of the Board and in and outside of meetings, Cindy, Ray and I did not believe Warren would make the best or most productive chairman for the Board of Commissioners.

Warren has alleged in the Bulletin that the previous Board, the one on which he served for his first two years, was more productive than the current Board.&bsp; That is not borne out by the facts. &bsp;

All three of us, Ray, Cindy and I, ran in part because the previous Board was a very unproductive board.&bsp; Little was being accomplished.&bsp; Actions that were taken were slipshod.&bsp; The new Board had to spend much time at the beginning of our term correcting and repairing problems created by the previous Board. &bsp;

Warren greatly resented that.&bsp; He thought we should leave all the mistakes of the previous Board in place, rather than correct them. Warren frequently complained when things were not done the way his previous Board (the Board that was voted out of office in 2008) had done them. &bsp;

If the prior Board was so much more productive, why would all three members of that Board who were up for election have been voted out of office in 2008?&bsp; Apparently, contrary to Warrens assertion, most people did not agree with Warrens perception when it came time to vote.

Our Board, on the other hand, has been in office only 14 months, but we have a considerable list of accomplishments of which we can be proud. The list is very lengthy, but here are just a few:&bsp; We lowered taxes and lowered County debt.&bsp; We adopted a Mountaintop and Ridgeline Protection ordinance. &bsp;

We adopted a Sedimentation and Erosion Control ordinance (which members of the previous Board had immediately rescinded upon their election in 2004).&bsp; We have built an adult day care facility which will soon be in use in Polk County.&bsp; &bsp;

We completed the long drawn out purchase of Lake Adger and got the new Meeting Place Senior Center remodeled and in operation.&bsp; We have adopted a fair and even-handed policy for placing water lines, one not based on political affiliation or friendship.&bsp; And we have accomplished much, much more.

Finally, why does Warren think that he was unable to be effective as an elected official when affiliated with a political party?&bsp; Is he conceding that he has been unable to be an effective representative of the people during his four years in office?&bsp; Changing party affiliation will not change the basic person.

Nuff said.&bsp; Now lets get back to work on the peoples business.

Rene McDermott