Electoral season is in full bloom and the nasty political pollen is all over everything, triggering partisan rumor allergies that just seem to annoy us every election season.
I began reaching for the antihistamine after receiving numerous phone calls about my intention to run for U.S. House of Representatives District 3. Truthfully, I have not expressed even the remotest interest in running for the seat.
Some select individuals are strategically greasing the rumor mill in an attempt to create some division, or at least psychological disruption, amongst conservatives in Congressional District 3.
Conservative state Senator Mike Crane from Newnan has already announced to run and I will support his candidacy.
Another airborne allergen floating about is based on the ultra-controversial district voting lawsuit settlement. There is fear from the restrictive government crowd that our local state legislative delegation will look at ways to create a scenario that is more unbiased and ethical with a local bill centered on the settlement. That is the last thing State Representative Virgil Fludd, a member of our local legislative delegation, wants.
We had a split vote on the Board of Commissioners and it is always possible that the members of the local delegation may split on what they would like to see.
The rumored anxiety is that the legislative delegation might create a reasonable and unprejudiced bill such as one that I have proposed for years called the “3-2” plan. In the 3-2 plan, the county has three districts and two additional positions would be voted on at-large, giving EVERY voter in Fayette County the ability to elect a majority of the Board of Commissioners as well as their own district.
With 3-2, North Fayette County would have its own district with a percentage of African American voters similar to the percentages reached in the ultra-controversial settlement which did not meet minimum Voting Rights Act requirements as approved by Commissioners David Barlow and Charles Oddo.
Allow me to reiterate, African Americans in a new 3-2 plan northern district would be able to elect their own district representative and additionally have the power to elect a majority of the Board of Commissioners by also voting for two at-large posts which Representative Virgil Fludd adamantly opposes. Why?
Rep. Fludd wants a situation where he can continue to consolidate and manipulate his personal political power, but broadening African American voting influence across the county dilutes his personal dominance over the voters of north Fayette County. He is now in a position where he has tight control over that specific area of the county and maintaining that control means preventing an African American challenger that can defeat him. To that end, Rep. Fludd does not want “his constituents” involved in broad political engagement outside his district. Heaven forbid that the little people begin voting for Republicans in at-large races and build political credibility.
The other legislative option that causes absolute panic in the hearts of the restrictive government crowd and Rep. Fludd is a district voting bill that would allow the at-large position in the ultra-controversial Barlow and Oddo settlement to be a countywide election for chairman of the Board of Commissioners. The settlement calls for an at-large position, why not for chairman?
I have proposed for years that the county voters be allowed to vote for their own chairman. Citizens voting for chairman seems like a no-brainer because we want to believe that everyone should be able to elect their leadership, especially the person who is their regional government representative. Why would this be threatening to Rep. Fludd?
They feel like they have a better chance at controlling the Board of Commissioners leadership from behind the scenes by using influence through pressure. Honestly, in the short-term it has worked. Commissioner Barlow has proven to be easily influenced and he was the swing-vote for the chairman’s vote in January and Chairman Oddo has been in their camp.
The flaw is that the balance is fragile with Barlow and Oddo as damaged candidates in this year’s election lineup. However, if you are Rep. Fludd, you want to keep as much backdoor personal influence in that local chairman’s election process as possible since it can lead to personal political gain. The ability to control local leadership is essential for pleasing special interests who fund campaigns.
Mind you, it disenfranchises the constituents in the north Fayette district and other districts, but the political process is not designed to benefit the citizens.
I seriously doubt the chairman of the legislative delegation, Rep. John Yates of Spalding County, has any idea what has actually transpired in Fayette County on this issue.
For years, I have been openly pressing for more egalitarian reform and giving the voters further control in local government.
Citizens (black, white and in between) should question any elected official who wants to take the process in the opposite direction.
[Steve Brown of Peachtree City is the District 3 member of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]