Reaching across the aisle

Published 8:26 am Thursday, July 25, 2013

GATESVILLE – In politics, it’s highly unlikely that one party will reveal its grand plan to those sharing a different viewpoint.

That appears not to be the case inside Gates County politics.

At their July 15 meeting, the Gates County Board of Commissioners, each a member of the Democratic Party, listened as Thomas Hill, chairman of the county’s Republican Party, laid out the GOP’s current and future plans.

Meanwhile, another high ranking local GOP official informed the commissioners of a pending survey that may be given to Gates County High School seniors, allowing them to discover their personal political beliefs.

Hill said the local Republicans had been working on what they call, “a contract with Gates County…..a promissory note, a direction, a road map for the county.”

“Some may say that we’re telling the Democrats what we’re doing in 2014. I hold no secrets,” Hill stated. “We want to make ourselves public…aggressively make ourselves available to any and all in the county. They have a right to know what’s going on in the county, even if it (the Republican Party) is only one-third of the county, they still have a right to know.”

Hill then unveiled a list of what the local Republican Party favored, saying, “We encourage you five (county commissioners) to vote for. Some of these are no secret to you all.”

In order, the GOP “wish list” included:

Restore the old county courthouse, “Something that, in my personal belief, is needed as a healing for this county. It’s a bipartisan project, one we can clasp hands with the local Democrats and make everyone proud,” Hill noted.

Create jobs in Gates County….“Everyone needs a job, especially in today’s society where we have a 16 trillion dollar debt at the federal level and here in the state we have a deficit that we’re working to eliminate,” Hill said.

The implementation of the JROTC in the high school.

“This is something we need in high school. We’re working aggressively with the (Gates County) school board to put this in place,” Hill remarked.

Another need, Hill said, is affordable housing and an active senior center.

“Our elders are those with a big bag of wisdom. We owe it to our seniors to provide a better level of living,” he said.

“We are also aggressively pursuing animal welfare laws,” Hill continued. “We agreed that we need to look at the laws currently on the books. I warned you all months ago about stacking the deck (with the animal ad hoc committee). We need bi partisanship on this particular board. We would like to submit names to this board for inclusion on this particular committee as well as all committees that help shape our local laws. These laws will be with us for a while. They need to apply to all, not just the Democrats.”

Emily Truman, secretary of the Gates County GOP, said another plan by the local Republicans was to have graduating seniors to fill out a survey, a questionnaire, in an effort to accurately judge where they stand politically.

“When I graduated high school I was concerned because I didn’t know what I was politically,” Truman said. “Growing up in Gates County, you’re a Democrat if you want to vote, at least that’s what I was told. I was told that by a former commissioner.

“At age 18, I registered as a Democrat,” she continued. “After diving in to politics and learning more about each party, I found out that I didn’t line up with the Democrat values and beliefs. I found I was more Republican.”

As for the survey, Truman said the Gates County GOP wanted to work with their Democratic counterparts in the county to develop a questionnaire that targets high school seniors, allowing them to discover where their personal political beliefs fall. This effort, Truman said, must be coordinated through and come with the blessings of the Gates County Board of Education.

“Let these graduating seniors, those turning age 18, decide who they are and what they are…not told who and what they are,” Truman said. “I’m not saying that everything on the Democratic Party side is wrong and everything on the Republican side is right. I’m saying I am a Republican. I feel both parties are fighting for the same thing, what’s right in the community, the state, and the country. But we need balance on both sides. This would be an awesome link between the two political parties to go together and educate our youth.”

Hill, in closing, said there is no need for partisan politics at the highest level of GatesCounty local government.

“Last year we had a county manager who made himself available during the Democrat meet and greet for (then NC Senator) Stan White,” Hill recalled. “This individual could not be reached nor did he make himself available during the time that Bill Cook, a Republican and our newly elected State Senator, was in our county.

“It is time to get rid of partisan ways of doing business. The old ways are now gone. It’s time to work together. We look forward to working with each of the commissioners on the old courthouse project, one that has the support of our party. To (County Manager) Mr. (Jon) Mendenhall, thank you and your office for no partisanship. We want to move forward in Gates County,” Hill concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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