The League of Women Voters of Wake County (LWV-WC) has sponsored candidate forums annually for at least 15 years. I always try to attend at least one myself – it really helps to see candidates in action. These forums are always beautifully run – professional and non-partisan. I was shocked and offended to read that the 4 conservative candidates for County Commissioner had snubbed the League (LWV), as well as blocked a referendum on a small tax toward higher teacher pay in Wake County.
The LWV-WC invited candidates back in June. The 4 conservative County Commissioners finally responded in August (possibly only 3 weeks before the first planned forum on Sept 17) with a snub. The N&O used much stronger wording in their Sat, Aug 30th article, “Candidates shun some debate forums,” at http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/29/4106862_in-divisive-wake-commissioners.html The title says ‘some’ but I only see the 3 LWV-WC forums being singled out for refusal. In fact, the four conservative commissioners were expected to participate in a forum sponsored by the conservative Wake County Taxpayers Association and with various Chambers of Commerce.
In addition, in early August that same conservative majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners decided not to allow a Nov. 4 referendum to raise the sales tax rate by a quarter cent to fund higher salaries for teachers – so Wake County voters have no say in teacher pay.
http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/05/4051780/groups-react-to-vote-rejecting.html Wake may not be able to vote on this for 2 years, because of a state bill awaiting McCrory’s signature which would limit when counties could hold referendums.
Let us review the way they took the vote – refusing to allow the longest serving commissioner, Betty Lou Ward, to vote because she was recuperating from a hospital visit. Commissioner Ward, who has served Wake County for 26 years responded to Wake GOP board members in letter titled ‘Tossing civility aside,’ at http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/05/4052472/betty-lou-ward-responds-to-wake.html. You may also remember in December 2009, when the conservative commissioners took a vote at midnight while Commissioner Ward was taking a bathroom break. That underhanded trick made the difference in that vote. You can read about how “even bathroom breaks are exploited in order to seize power” at http://www.allgov.com/news/unusual-news/gop-uses-bathroom-visit-to-seize-control-of-county-board-in-north-carolina?news=839995. Also another reference to the 2009 incident at ABC11, at http://abc11.com/archive/7658167/.
The Sept 15 and Oct 6 board meetings (2pm) have opportunities for public comment in case you are offended by the way our representatives are treating women in the League, County Commissioner Betty Lou Ward, and voters in Wake County.
President, Raleigh and NC Chapters of the National Organization for Women
(Op-Ed, submitted to N&O at 1:30am on 9/3/14)