Starnes is a role model for those who want to serve

Democrats should allow all at sheriff's forum
Jan 31, 2013

Folks in Haywood County would be hard-pressed to find a more community-spirited person than Lee Starnes, who is retiring from a 29-year career with State Farm Insurance. Lee has a passion for youth sports, and showed that passion not only through financial support, but by his personal enthusiasm at game time.

His involvement wasn’t just limited to baseball. In addition to his mission work for Waynesville First Baptist Church, Lee could be found sponsoring everything from United way to Senior Games to schools, to community events such as Apple Harvest Festival or Folkmoot, and the list goes on.

Community cheerleaders in Haywood County are plentiful, but Lee elevated the words “community service” to a new level.

His presence in the business community will be missed, but he assures us he will still be supporting his same causes. Lee Starnes is an inspiration and role model. We wish him well and extend heartfelt thanks for all he has done to make Haywood County the special place that it is.


Public should be able to attend Democratic sheriff’s forum


As the Haywood County Democratic Party plans for the process to name a new sheriff, it provides insight into how partisan politics works, and it isn’t pretty. Because Sheriff Bobby Suttles is calling it quits in mid-term, the party to which he belongs is charged with selecting his successor.

Statewide party rules govern the process, and neither the Republican nor the Democratic parties include a process to select a candidate from an opposing party. That’s understandable. What is puzzling is the party rule that allows only registered party members to attend a public forum where candidates outline their qualifications and positions.

The county sheriff serves all, and the public forum portion of the process ought to be an open one, not an event where party registration is checked at the door. In Haywood County, there are currently 18,846 registered Democrats; 12,076 registered Republicans and 10,680 registered voters not affiliated with either party. The growing number of unaffiliated voters, as well as the number of people who no longer participate in the election process, can be partially traced to partisan actions that defy common sense.

The public level of frustration with both politics and politicians is at an all-time high. Those who care about the future of our communities, state and country expect leaders to rise above fractious and artificial divisions and look toward the overall good.

True, there are different paths toward achieving that goal, but it is hard to imagine how a restrictive public forum before party leaders select the next county sheriff could serve anyone well.