Coming into this political season it was my intention to follow the precedent I had set in 1998, when as a Commissioner I stayed neutral in the political race for the District 2 Commission seat in Columbia County. It was my intent to do the same in the present race between incumbent Frank Spears and Planning and Zoning Chairman Steve Brown for the new District 1 seat. But as this campaign has unfolded, I have come to sense an obligation to express my judgment about the fitness of these two men for public office. ...
First, it is my belief that Brown is an advocate of open government. His chairmanship of Planning and Zoning was conducted in that fashion. By contrast, Spears early in his term of office proposed that the county government place a gag order on its employees.
All political candidates say they are for responsible development and growth. However, their mettle on this issue is best measured when caught between upset residential constituents and the obligation to ensure the legal rights of a property owner. Brown has demonstrated in his zoning votes a willingness to make the tough decision and a commitment to preserving the quality of life of our community. Spears has played both sides of the fence.
Spears was a proponent of and voted for the storm water utility in its present form. I have no criticism of him over this fact. Sometimes we have to try something out to get it right. However, I do object to his adopting a new position as a matter of political convenience for this campaign - a position which I believe was plagiarized from the platform of another candidate.
This silly controversy over political signs is simple campaign posturing. ... Tell me, which is more unethical: to take an opponents sign down with permission, or to put one up without express permission from the property owner? If one lives in a glass house...
In my view both candidates could use a little more humility in the conduct of their office and no doubt the same could have been said of me. Does any of this make one of these men bad and the other good? Of course not, I believe both men have their good points and faults, as they are simply human. Both candidates are essentially decent men who are motivated on several levels to serve their community. Spears says this campaign is about character. I agree.
I will vote for Steve Brown. I like the clarity of his character.
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