The best government does the people’s bidding. The worst government is that which toys with voters and ensconces itself in power.
In Wake County, that’s what we have now that the General Assembly has done in passing Sen. Chad Barefoot’s bill that redraws district lines, creates two large districts with disparate needs and limits the ability of voters to choose their county leaders.
The Republican-led General Assembly adopted the legislation over the objections of their party leader, Gov. Pat McCrory who said the General Assembly should steer clear of local politics.
The Republican-led General Assembly adopted the legislation despite the fact that a majority of Wake County voters said they didn’t want the change.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
In an interview, Barefoot hardly disguised his motives when he admitted that, well, the new rules could very well benefit members of his own party.
It’s not the first time Barefoot has taken an overtly political action since he was elected to office. He was part of the movement that altered the way school board members in Wake County will be elected.
And he has thrown his support behind legislation that will fast-track hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as a means to exploit natural gas reserves, despite the overabundance of questions about the safety of the process and the accountability of those who practice it.
Barefoot has charged, full-speed ahead, into all these issues and because he sits in a legislative body so full of members of his own party, Barefoot has found the treading easy over the past few years.
So voters in Wake County, including those of us in Garner, will be limited to choosing just two of our nine county commissioners during the next election. That’s down from the ability to participate in choosing all seven member of the elected board under the previous law.
Republicans, in general, have done a good job of insulating themselves from voters, setting up districts in which they are unlikely to lose barring some illegal activity or some sort of moral turpitude. Barefoot knows that and he is learning that such a safety net allows elected leaders to run roughshod over the wishes of the people he serves.
But we are reminded of an old platitude that goes something like this: what comes around goes around.
Barefoot has ignored the wishes of he majority of his Wake County electorate on more than one occasion. In the long run, that won’t serve him well.