Why are we making these races political?

By Jeff Linville - jlinville@mtairynews.com
Jeff Linville News Editor -

It’s only April, and already I’m growing weary of the campaign season.

It’s a long time until November.

On Saturday I sat in on a Republican Party candidate forum for three races that for the life of me I can’t understand why any of them should be partisan elections.

Sheriffs, judges and clerks of court: why should any of these be weighed off the political party to which they registered?

Politicians make laws — often to try to give their own party more power, such as the voting district gerrymandering nonsense that has gotten completely out of hand across the country.

Sheriffs, judges and clerks don’t make laws; they simply have to do their jobs within the law. So there is no reason for party affiliation to be the deciding factor.

If the sheriff isn’t enforcing certain laws because of political beliefs, then vote him out for not doing his job. If he does happen to be enforcing laws equally, then party affiliation doesn’t play into it.

A couple of examples given of “issues” at the sheriff’s office are the opioid epidemic and unsolved crimes.

Two different men noted that there has been a Democrat as sheriff for 23 years, and it was time to get a Republican in office.

Are they trying to say that opioids and unsolved crimes are part of the Democratic Party platform? They think Democrats are pushing to keep Obamacare, raise minimum wage, and make sure there is a steady flow of prescription pain killers going into the wrong hands?

Similarly, what does a judge’s political leanings have to do with making impartial rulings based on the actual laws written?

If a judge isn’t following the letter of the law, then the Court of Appeals can step in an rectify wrongs — and then we know the judge isn’t doing the job properly.

Do we really think that a Republican judge is going to throw out charges like unlawfully carrying a firearm by a felon because he supports the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms?

And a court clerk? Shouldn’t they be practically invisible? Are they supposed to be like referees at sporting events: you only notice they are there when they make a mistake? A person who is invisible shouldn’t be spouting political views in either direction. Politics has no place in paper pushing.

Look at me. When I turned old enough to vote, I registered as Republican because my dad was, and I didn’t know anything else.

Then George Bush said, “Read my lips: no new taxes.” Then he broke that promise, and I switched parties. But then came Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and of course the controversial NAFTA that had a hand in killing the textile trade that was so strong in Surry County.

By that time, I was working here at The News. I made the decision that as a news reporter I should always try to be impartial and tell a story based off the facts without slanting it politically. So I made the decision about 20 years ago to register as unaffiliated.

People will make some crack about the “liberal media,” and I’ll say, “Don’t look at me. I don’t belong to either party.”

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Another thing I dislike about politics is all the bad information floating around.

Maybe people just don’t know any better and they misspeak. Maybe they do know better, but they are trying to sway voters and play a little loose with the truth.

Sometimes folks make campaign promises that they can’t follow through on because the promises fall outside their job description.

On Saturday, all four of the sheriff candidates spoke of the need to hire more patrol deputies, but only one said he thought he could do it without raising the department budget. That would seem to imply the other three think they can raise the budget.

Guess what? The sheriff doesn’t set the budget — the county commissioners approve that. If the men wanted to increase funding for the sheriff’s office, someone should have run for commissioner.

I heard one candidate say if he were sheriff he wouldn’t make deals with drug dealers; he would put them in jail.

The sheriff doesn’t make plea bargains — those come from lawyers. If he wanted to stop plea deals, why not run for district attorney?

Two years ago I wrote a column that got a lot of angry responses from people. I gave three instances of shocking crimes where plea bargains got the convict far less jail time than one would have expected.

One of those examples included a five-month-old baby who died from abuse and neglect. The man received a sentence of 68-104 months, which is as little as six years or less than nine years at the most.

Some of the comments I saw on our website and on social media said that Surry County had kept the same DA for too long and needed a fresh face.

And yet, the DA didn’t attend Saturday’s candidate forum because he is running unopposed.

We have four men running to unseat the sheriff, talking about getting tough on crime. But, the sheriff is only part of the equation. Another factor in that is running unopposed.

Maybe they are pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

Jeff Linville
News Editor
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/web1_Jeff-new-mug-1.jpgJeff Linville
News Editor

By Jeff Linville


Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.