Editorial: Commissioners by precinct worth considering

Published 9:25 am Thursday, December 2, 2021

A letter to the editor in this issue raises some good questions.
Should Davie County elect its commissioners by district?
Looking at it from a logical point of view, the answer would be no. Davie County isn’t that large, so it shouldn’t be hard for anyone to get to know the needs in every corner of the county. And by and large, we’ve generally elected good people to be county commissioners. We may not always agree with them, but for the most part, they have the right intentions.
But can someone who moved to Bermuda Run 10 years ago really know the needs of a southern Davie family which has lived on the edge of poverty for generations? Even if they want to empathise with these folks, can they? Yes, if they take the time.
If it was one of their neighbors on the county board, would they be more in tune with that family’s needs? Yes.
That question can be flipped. Can someone who has lived in rural Davie for their entire lives be in tune with the needs of a newcomer family in a more urban setting, where houses are an arm’s length apart? Yes, if they take the time. But like before, someone like them would be much more in tune with those issues.
A problem with going to districts could be quality candidates. Every election, we have a few wild cards who sign up to seek office who have no business being anywhere close to becoming a commissioner. Those wild cards could be more easily elected in a district setting, and noone benefits from that.
Davie County is one. We’re like a foreign country. Like the old saying, we may fight amongst ourselves, but you outside folks better leave us alone. Davie County has held that pride for a long time, and we don’t won’t that to go away.
Would electing commissioners from districts make that feeling of one go away? Maybe, but it shouldn’t.
A problem the writer points out about how we elect commissioners makes sense. Our commissioners are mostly from one or two areas of the county. Sure, they are the most populated areas, but does that make them more qualified to make decisions for everyone? No, it doesn’t.
Another issue brought up by the writer makes even more sense. Residents in areas of the county who have been without a commissioner from their neck of the woods for decades are starting to feel alienated – that their opinions don’t matter.
Their opinions don’t matter? That, in itself, should make the county at least consider going to districts for board members. There’s good arguments on both sides. It wouldn’t be easy, either. Imagine the fight when we starting making those lines where commissioners must reside in before running for office. It will be a fight, but if it makes people feel more like a part of their government, isn’t it worth at least considering?
Hats off to anyone who decides to run for local office, no matter where they reside. Not only will you be demonized on social media, a simple trip to the grocery store could get you some sideways looks, as well.
These days, holding a public office requires a tough skin – a really tough skin. When making decisions on any issue, a public official is likely to be demonized by someone on social media. It doesn’t have to be the truth, but if the masses read it on Facebook and want it to be true, then in their minds, it is true. Spouting off opinions on social media does nothing to make things better.
Electing commissioners from districts is an idea worth consideration. And believe it or not – it can be done without an outside consultant. We can figure this one out on our own.
And no matter the outcome, we are still one.
– Mike Barnhardt