I and many others will agree to disagree with the newspaper's editorial staff regarding the referendum on whether to appoint or elect Beaufort County's treasurer and auditor. I recently saw a bumper sticker that stated, "The more you let government do for you the more they can take." I, for one, will do everything I can to ensure that does not happen.
As most everyone knows, this referendum will not affect the current auditor or myself, but it is something I am strongly against, and I am concerned about the long-term future of the taxpayers of Beaufort County. There are several items at issue here: It is correct that the law has minimum requirements to run for these offices. If the electorate disagrees with the requirements, I would encourage them to work to change the law so a certain level of competency is required to run for these positions. In addition, proper vetting of candidates prior to their election will identify the qualified individuals. More government control is not what our county needs, especially when it concerns the people's right to choose. There is a reason that our form of government was established, and it was mainly for the purpose of separation of powers. There are many occasions throughout the state in which local politics come into conflict with the duties of a treasurer or auditor. But we are a part of the checks and balances, elected to protect and serve the interest of the taxpayers of this county, a trust and responsibility we hold sacred. If County Council believes that voters are not astute enough to vote for these two important offices, then why aren't the sheriff, County Council, clerk of court or other elected offices on this referendum? Can we assume that voters are astute enough to vote to for some offices and not others? If this movement is a result of the previous Treasurer's Office administration, I find it inappropriate and contradictory with the actions and desires of the county's voters. After the issues of the previous administration came to light, they acted in an overwhelming way and made the changes they thought necessary.
Apathy of an electorate will always be a factor in elections, but I believe the people of our county have shown they are involved and concerned with the quality and abilities of their elected officials and desire to make the decision for themselves. I would encourage County Council and other county elected officials to work together in a transparent manner to establish expectations and lines of responsibility and communication so that we may better serve those who elected us instead of asking the electorate to surrender their right to choose.
The auditor and treasurer may not be under the authority of the county administrator, but we are under the authority of the people of this county, as is every other elected official; we have a responsibility to work together to successfully fulfill our obligations.
Asking a capable and active electorate to vote on eliminating their right to vote, increasing the power of County Council and reducing the county's checks and balances, instead of attempting to improve the functions of county government, is inappropriate and shows the disconnect between government and its people.