With our local primary election coming up soon, I just want to take a minute to discuss my concern with our "Interim" County Judge/Executive Jamie Spears, his appointment as judge and his candidacy in the Republican primary election.
My overarching concern honestly lies with the fact that I feel this individual should not be holding the seat he currently holds. I do not believe he has the experience necessary to do this job in a manner required to meet the demands of this community, and, in my opinion, he has not shown enough interest or concern for this community over the years to be given the responsibility of representing Simpson County as county judge/executive.
From the moment Spears was named interim county judge/executive, I began asking myself - how did this happen? Through my research I have gathered some information that I would like to share that supports my concern.
It's interesting to me that our "appointed" judge is a very new Republican. Spears filed to change his political affiliation on Sept. 8, 2017. Additionally, Spears does not have a history of being very civic-minded. He has only voted in three out of the last 10 elections; since 2011 he has voted in zero primary elections and in only 3 of the last 5 general elections.
To me, the timing of Spears' party change looked pretty orchestrated, so it got me to thinking and I began asking questions. What I learned is that when a county judge/executive seat is vacated, interested candidates must petition the governor for the appointment of that seat. Therefore, this new Republican petitioned our Republican governor for this appointment and, in December 2017, the governor announced the appointment of Spears as interim Simpson County judge/executive.
However, what is most concerning to me is the fact that Spears wasn't the only Simpson County resident to petition the governor for this appointment. There were two others I know of who petitioned for this seat. Democratic candidate Blake Tarpley, who boasts almost eight years of service as a county magistrate, was a sitting magistrate (and still is) when the appointment was made. Republican candidate Mason Barnes also boasts almost eight years of community service as a city commissioner.
Both of these gentlemen are very reputable within our community and have years of community service experience and knowledge behind them. Shouldn't this have worked within their favor? But - Spears was the one appointed, a brand new Republican with a 30 percent voting record (over the last 10 elections at least) Our Republican Governor had to choose from a sitting magistrate, a sitting commissioner and a local businessman with no history of public service, or any known public interest for that matter. That has never made any sense to me.
This entire situation is, in my opinion, complete political injustice. There has been an unfair disparity in political influence, if you will. Quite honestly - I'm very upset about this.
Don't get me wrong - I don't have a personal problem with Spears. He's always been polite enough when we've spoken. However - liking someone and feeling confident that they can effectively do a job are two totally different things. It's just that every time I've spoken with him or heard him speak about issues, I always walk away stunned by the things he says and by the things he doesn't even understand.
I don't know about anyone else - but every time I see a "Keep Jamie Spears as County Judge Executive" sign I sigh a little. Because, to me, an "appointed official" shouldn't campaign for citizens to "keep" them when said citizens never elected them in the first place. It's just that, in this situation, given the facts that I've laid out above, I feel as if our political system didn't work the way that it should have. So it makes me upset to see someone try and capitalize off of that.
Shaunna Cornwell, a lifelong citizen of Simpson County.