The close proximity among Halloween, Election Day and Thanksgiving puts me in mind of a particular former (and now late) in-law. I’ll call him Bill.
Bill was a man of many opinions. None was sensible. Most were racist.
Bill believed the only mistake Richard Nixon made was getting caught. He believed affirmative action was unfair to whites. And he thought weekends existed solely for getting drunk and philandering with whatever female was nearby - despite being married with three kids.
Bill loved to bloviate about politics and religion, and I loved to tell him what a moron he was. Of course, the drunker he got the less he liked that. Halloween reminds me of Bill because, like Dr. Jekyll upon drinking the serum, he became Mr. Hyde, terrorizing family, neighbors, friends, and anyone else who happened upon his imposing, drunken, 6-foot-4-inch frame and dared disagree with him.
Bill’s predilection for politics might make the connection he holds to Election Day in my mind seem obvious, but there’s more to it. His marriage into our family might never have occurred were it not for the 1972 re-election of his hero Nixon, for it was during an election night barroom watch party (long before that term was coined) that he met my relative, his future wife.
Thanksgiving, of course, is where it all converged: A four-day weekend with the whole family, over the course of which an increasingly inebriated Bill would push whatever hot button came to his addled mind - religion, politics, John Madden (I’m serious ) – for no other reason than wanting something to argue about.
Watching what has transpired here in Greenville as Election Day approaches, I can’t help but be reminded of Bill.
For a couple of weeks, we had a person (or group) placing unsigned (read: cowardly) fliers containing what can only be called hate speech on the windows of cars in church parking lots, their sole aim being to derail the candidacy of Calvin Mercer - who has served Greenville for six years – and to do it by calling his religious beliefs into question. Radio ads similar in content and tone have appeared on WTIB, and last week that station’s owner, Henry Hinton, joined the game of dirty pool himself, raising the ”religion question” to Mercer during a candidate forum.
Way to go, guys. Bill would be soooo proud.
As local law enforcement plays hot potato with NC General Statute 136-32 - which stipulates the illegal placement of political signs as a class 1 misdemeanor - one candidate has responded to the Guardian’s documentation and made a good-faith effort to bring his signs into compliance.
By early last week, the campaign of Michael Overton, a first-time city council candidate, had moved a passel of oversize and over-height signs promoting his District 5 run from positions within road and highway rights of way to new locations behind sidewalks and power lines. We applaud the campaign for doing so.
As for citing the only remaining candidate with apparently infracting signs - Mayor Allen Thomas – the Greenville Police Department, as of this writing, still had not made a determination. This after the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department demurred on the issue, saying it would not cite infractions “within the city limits,” since it operates on the understanding that GPD has primary responsibility for such locations.
Regardless whether the Thomas campaign’s apparently illegal signs are cited, his refusal to correct them unilaterally, along with his failure to denounce the anonymous fliers and radio commercials described in the first item above, makes one fact beyond dispute: The needle has fallen off the mayor’s moral compass.
Again, kudos to Mr. Overton for doing the right thing.