Chamber puts Commission votes to test

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The questions seemed simple enough. The answers, in most cases, abundantly obvious.

When the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce compiled a group of 17 diverse community members last week, leaders wanted to analyze the way common folk would run county government.

“So we took 12 votes Hale County Commissioners have made in the past 14 months,” said Law Lamar, who helped administer the pop quiz. “We wanted to see what kind of answers we got. We also wanted to see if commissioners vote in the majority with the people they represent.”

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Among the questions: Would you grant a liquor license to a business located near a school? And would you grant that license if there had been drug problems at the business under former owners?

Out of 16 counted votes (one person did not cast a vote), 15 citizens said they would not support a liquor license for the business in question. Only one member of the group voted for the license.

Another question: The sheriff has applied for a traffic grant every year. The grant funds overtime pay for deputies who set up roadblocks and safety checks. Would you vote to accept the grant?

This time, all 17 members of the group voted, and 16 supported application for the grant. Yet again, one member voted against the idea.

Of the dozen questions asked, most were that simple, making it easy for group members to pick an answer.

In part, the chamber meeting was held to educate citizens on county government and the political process.

“We wanted to see how citizens would have voted if they were commissioners,” Lamar said.

The second reason for the event was to test one incumbent county commissioner, Lois Fields, and her challenger, Elijah Knox. The two face off in the District 2 County Commission race on June 1.

“We really didn’t do this to draw conclusions,” Lamar said. “We just wanted to see where the candidates stood on issues in comparison to how people would have voted.”

Knox voted with the majority of the citizens on every question. Fields, on the other hand, voted in the minority on every issue, according to Lamar.

“She voted opposite of what the majority of people in this county want,” Lamar said. “The chamber study found that Knox voted with the people.”

While Lamar said nothing of a Knox endorsement, Lamar did indicate that members of the community need to educate themselves about the position of elected officials.

“In my group, the goal is to get rid of as much hatred and racism in Hale County as we can,” he said. “People need to ask themselves, ‘Do you support people who promote hatred?'”