Letter to the Editor
Mr. Warren Adams, Administrator of Elections, from the Fayette County Election Commission sent a letter out on June 01, 2017 to both Republican and Democratic Parties. This notified both parties of the official notification deadlines for calling county wide primaries. Discussions were initiated with in the Fayette County Republican Party, the TN GOP, elected officials such as State Senator Dolores Gresham, Representative Ron Gant, County Mayor Taylor, and other leaders of the community. The reasoning, rational and timeframe for taking a vote on the matter was clear and transparent.
The citizens of our county deserve the facts of calling a primary. The rumors of a primary election costing upwards of $70k+ are simply false. Last year, in 2016, the Presidential Preference Primary cost $43,916.63 to operate in Fayette County. Of this sum, $32,332.21 was paid to directly to Fayette County residents in labor costs. Based on this figure, the overall “estimated” figure amounts to 0.24% of an entire Fayette County fiscal year budget. Over a 4-year election cycle, that is 0.06% of all Fayette County spending. Put another way, for every single dollar spent by Fayette County, 6 one-hundredths of a penny goes to providing a primary for local offices. Again, approximately 75% of that cost goes right back into the pockets of county residents who work the polls on primary election day and early voting. The cost of a county primary is not expected to exceed this amount. For the record, the state of Tennessee has reimbursed Fayette County for the cost of the Presidential Primary.
Another rumor to be dispelled is the additional expenditure to the cost of the election of $14,000 for “relocation of precincts”. This estimated figure was added in the event that Fayette County Public Schools would not provide access to the schools as polling precincts. I have been personally in contact with Superintendent Dr. King, and have been assured the schools will be open as polling places. A simple inquiry could have resolved that issue instead of dispelling inflated estimates.
Having to pay for an election however, is a small price to pay for more accountability from our elected officials, and is the fabric of our democratic process. You don’t have to look any further than Memphis to see why increased accountability is a good thing.
The question asked in the headline splashed across the paper in the Fayette Falcon, is the idea that calling for party primaries somehow equates to “taxation without representation”? That is simply untrue. State law has been passed by both the Tennessee House and Senate and signed by the Governor that allows the parties to call for County primary elections. 63 counties in Tennessee have elected to do the same thing. Your elected representatives have all weighed in on this issue long before our decision to call for a Republican primary. The county is aware that they are responsible for paying for the primary election should one be called.
A total of 14 voting members of the Fayette County Republican Party Executive Committee voted unanimously to call for this primary are ALL elected officials of the Republican Party. Of these members, 12 were elected in February 2017 during the last Mass Convention of the Republican Party and serve two-year terms. The other 2 votes came from the State Executive Committee member- of Senate District 26 and past Chairman of the Fayette County Republican Party.
The topic of Fayette County’s growth also came up in the article last week detailing the events of the County Commission meeting. The idea presented by Commissioner Logan that the new Fayette County residents shouldn’t have an equal voice in their county government is offensive and is clearly an example of why things need to change. Commissioner Logan’s quote in the Falcon of “It’s just that you all come out here from other places and try to change this county around from what we’ve been doing” represents a mindset in Fayette County that must change. Does the Commissioner sound like a new import to Fayette County is valued by him the same as a lifelong resident?
Also, as mentioned, no one is forcing Commissioner Farley or anyone else to be someone he is not. The option to run as an Independent is available for anyone not wanting to affiliate. However, when voters know a candidate’s political affiliation, they immediately have a basic understanding of the platform that person is running on. Giving voters the opportunity to nominate candidates empowers citizens and increases the knowledge about candidates, elected officials, and important issues. Citizen empowerment, accountability, and transparency are good things in government. Fayette County voters need to ask themselves why some of their County Commissioners are so seemingly
opposed to these things. Elections open the door for an increase in public discourse which helps hold our elected officials more accountable.
The goal of the Tennessee Republican Party is to model our county government after our state government. This model has produced results that are anything but dysfunctional. Tennessee has a balanced budget, low taxes, is a Top 5 State for business, is the Top Auto Manufacturer in the south and has increased teacher pay. That seems like a pretty good model to emulate. Change is both necessary and good for our county government.
The bottom line is all citizens, every resident who votes, deserves to know what values and party either a candidate, or their elected official affiliates and identifies with. If you are a Republican or Democrat, you should have the right to nominate the best candidate.
Individuals interested in being candidates for the Republican Primary can pick up their candidate petition at the Fayette County Election Commission starting on November 17, 2017. The qualifying deadline is February 15, 2018 at noon. The Primary Election will be held on May 1, 2018. Please see the TN GOP newly updated bylaws for more information on qualifying factors for a Republican and the Republican Party Platform.
Submitted by Angela Courtney, Chairman Fayette County Republican Party
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