The sin that can never be forgiven

Published 11:55 am Wednesday, September 9, 2015

To the editor:

It’s not supposed to be this way.  It’s not supposed to be this way, at all.

Once elected, a county commissioner’s job is to represent all of the people in Polk County, not just the people who voted for him or her, or who supported him or her during the election.  Yet three members of the current board of commissioners are making support of them during the election a non-waivable qualification for appointment to any volunteer board.

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I’ll give him credit for being honest about all this. Tom Pack admitted that the majority’s refusal to re-appoint animal cruelty investigators Patti Lovelace and Nancy Hasselbring was for the sole reason that Patti and Nancy allowed their names to be included in a 200-name list published by A Better Polk County in support of the Democratic candidates for county commissioner.

Apparently that’s unforgiveable.  Apparently that condemns the bad actor to banishment from service to Polk County, and condemns Polk County to a future devoid of service by all those bad actors, a future that could be made better through the volunteer work of approximately half its citizens, banished from service for voting the wrong way.

Not willing to “fess up,” Michael Gage used the “fresh blood” fig leaf as in, “We needed to have some fresh blood on some of the boards.” Really, Michael? What fresh blood? There weren’t any other people seeking appointment to the animal cruelty investigator team. Pack, Holbert and Gage left two important positions entirely open, rather than select Lovelace and Hasselbring, two tried and true, trained, experienced, compassionate, honest, and dedicated volunteers.

Didn’t Pack, Holbert and Gage all promise to represent “ALL” the people in Polk County once elected?  Don’t they always? Obviously that was just a campaign pitch. An empty promise.

When Ray Gasperson, Cindy Walker and I were serving on the board of commissioners, we never made voting for us, supporting us, or even being silent about supporting opposing candidates, a condition of serving Polk County. We never checked the voter rolls for party affiliation before making volunteer board appointments. Those things were just never issues or concerns.

We evaluated applicants for volunteer boards according to their qualifications, often as stated on the volunteer’s application form or as known from prior community service. We based appointments on relevant training and experience, not on party affiliation or voting record.

We never made leaving one’s First Amendment rights at the border of Polk County a condition of selection to a volunteer board.

Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

Renée McDermott
Tryon, N.C.