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Laurels and Darts: Darts to Catawba County commissioners

April 24, 2012

Darts this week to the Catawba County Board of Commissioners for departing from leaders’ elected duty of governing our county and instead taking a partisan action that is nothing more than an attempt to spotlight a hot-button issue on this year’s statewide ballots.

Ultimately, our disagreement with county leaders’ action has nothing to do with the 3-2 decision they delivered in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage in North Carolina as a union between one man and one woman.

Our dart has nothing to do with marriage, or whether you are for or against Amendment 1.

We make it a policy that we don’t tell people how they should vote. Sure, in hopes of creating an informed electorate, we offer opinions on all sides of important issues and deliver information about ballot topics and candidates.

But we do not use our position as newspaper of record in Catawba County to tell people how to vote.
County commissioners shouldn’t use their elected position to do so either.

That said, our disappointment in Catawba County Commissioners’ action is rooted in the fact that they used their meeting as a political stump.

In considering a resolution written and suggested by a county citizen who sought input on a purely political issue, county commissioners set a dangerous precedent illustrating that, going forward, our local governing body believes it is OK to tell citizens how to vote. By taking up the measure at all, our county commissioners paved the way for government to enter the voting booth and direct our hands as we navigate through touch screen ballots.

If county leaders are compelled to tell us how to vote on statewide referendums like Amendment 1, what is to stop them from using their position as a government body to tell us how to vote for members of the General Assembly, the governor’s office or Congress? If county leaders feel justified in telling us how to vote on a referendum that doesn’t pertain to the business of Catawba County, it is only a slippery slope until they tell us how to vote for president.

Catawba County’s elected government has no place legislating an opinion on the personal decisions we make come voting day. Yet that’s what commissioners did this week, in spite of commission member Lynn Lail’s well-intentioned motion to refuse consideration of the matter.

We elect those five citizens to study, consider and vote their opinion on matters related to the governing of Catawba County, including the investment of citizen tax dollars. We do not elect them to hoist the banner of political movements, promote religious philosophies or offer opinions on our own morality. We elect them to govern.

Important decisions about how people vote on important issues, such as amending our state’s constitution, must be left to the citizens.

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