Letter to the editor

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The following letter is a response to Ken Lynn’s March 17 Jefferson Post opinion piece.

Mr. Ken Lynn once again demonstrates his unique ability to pontificate from a presumed position of moral rectitude, while talking down to his entire audience and insulting the integrity of most of the parties about whom he is bloviating. To even begin to equate the local Ashe County Government operations to the presidential election of 1824 is to make what one of my college professors used to call “a quantum leap of logic.” The tone of Mr. Lynn’s diatribe resembles the nonstop whining complaint of the mainstream left-leaning media and sour grapes Democrats, who can’t seem to grasp the fact that their failed candidates’ ideas and policies are the reason they lost the last election.

Mr. Lynn has the right to hold and express his unverified biased opinions, but that does not make his snarky assertions about Sam Yearick and Gary Roark and the other commissioners true. Word on the street is, Gary Roark has built some mighty fine homes in this county over the years.

In 1824, the political process worked as the political process is designed to work. Multiple people looked out for their own self-interest and made mutually beneficial bargains, and the ones who lost out then resorted to name-calling and charges of corruption—just as Democrats are still doing today. But as the illustrious former President Barack Obama condescendingly informed the outnumbered Republicans in Congress back in 2009, “Elections have consequences.” He then proceeded to imperiously ram through patently “unfair” and Constitutionally unprecedented legislation, merely because he had the requisite Democrat votes to do so. He blatantly lied to the American people in the process, and that is how Obamacare became law. Oh, but never mind that! Let’s snidely lecture the local Republicans who make perfectly legal governing decisions that seem to them right and prudent.

Whether our new Sheriff Buchanan “inherited a mess,” as he says, will become apparent over time, as will his actions to remedy the perceived problems in the jail. Remember that we currently have a Williams’ deputy going to trial in about a week for second degree murder, having killed not one but two unarmed local civilians in recent years. The local Grand Jury saw fit to charge him with the crime. Have no doubt, the truth will out.

But in the meantime, let’s clear up one misconception. Former Sheriff James Williams narrowly won his first race for sheriff by about 200 votes in 2010; he was a nice man, and he was popular in Ashe County, so he was reelected to a second term in 2014. But that’s the whole point: the voters elected Williams, not Bucky Absher. Wiliams had no legal right to hand pick his successor. The law is crystal clear that it is the job of the county commissioners to select the candidate they believe to be the most qualified candidate for the job. Apparently they believed that Buchanan’s 34 years of combined military security and law enforcement experience was the best fit for the position.

Those who have been here all their lives can easily remember a time in the not too distant past when it was hard for a person who wasn’t a registered Democrat to get a decent job in this county. The many-decades-long Democratic one-party rule was pretty well set in stone until the demographics of the county began to change about 25 years ago. It was only in recent years, from roughly 2007 on, that the local GOP began to really dominate the local elections.

Which leads me to my last relevant point. The local Democrats have not taken their fall from power gracefully. They have been bitter and resentful of the fact that their candidates and their policies no longer resonate with voters. Faced with the prospect of losing future elections, they came up with a new tactic. Their bright idea was to get a popular incumbent to run for reelection, then quickly retire and appoint one of their loyal assistants to the post. That way when the next election rolled around, they would still have a Democrat incumbent in office to fend off potential challenges. It worked like a charm when Shirley Wallace finally left the Register of Deeds office after 30 years. So that was the pattern they employed with the Sheriff’s office as well. In fact, they spent several months pressuring state legislators to change the existing law so as to give them the absolute right to appoint Williams’ successor. The legislators declined, but the Democrats simply assumed their tactic would work anyway.

But this time it didn’t. That is why they are so butt hurt and crying foul. But there is no foul. You may not like what the commissioners decided to do, but it was perfectly legal and aboveboard. The commissioners are not apologizing and neither am I. We have no moral obligation to play the Democrats’ game.

I for one am looking forward to seeing what positive improvements Sheriff Terry Buchanan will make to Ashe County law enforcement in the coming months. I am also looking forward to a time when criminal activity by rogue police officers—particularly unnecessary violence against unarmed civilians—will not be tolerated and covered up, but rather exposed and repudiated.

John Wheeler


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