Trevor Fuller adds tremendous value to discussions had by the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, but he was way off base in criticizing the towns for supporting Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order.
Closing and reopening our economy are two of the most important decisions our elected leaders will make in their lifetimes because those decisions affect the lives of so many people. It is intellectually lazy to suggest elected leaders in Matthews, Mint Hill and other Mecklenburg County towns are politically motivated in wanting to loosen stay-at-home restrictions.
Fuller came off as an aggressive attorney trying to badger a witness when asking County Manager Dena Diorio about how the towns wanted to back out of the original agreement to support Mecklenburg’s stricter stay-at-home order.
He said such actions undermine the county’s public health authority.
“People who have been pushing this effort to undermine our actions to respond to this COVID-19, they ought to be ashamed of themselves – who are pushing to reopen in this reckless and political way,” Fuller said.
Fuller is conflating national debate with local reality.
Matthews commissioners voted 4-3 to authorize Mayor John Higdon to send a letter to Mecklenburg County in support of the state’s stay-at-home order. Before the vote, the president of Novant Health Matthews Medical Center told commissioners the hospital was treating just one patient for COVID-19. The president of the Matthews Chamber of Commerce told them businesses were taking a nosedive just as an aircraft could be heard flying over her home.
As Matthews Commissioner Jeff Miller frames it, when you consider 34 people have tested positive in a town of roughly 30,000 people and the numbers are trending down, you can’t say the decision to loosen restrictions is reckless or political.
Social distancing has made a difference in our community. People are wearing masks, washing their hands and being a lot more cautious than they were when the stay-at-home order was activated.
Gov. Cooper’s stay-at-home order has been effective though people can legitimately argue whether certain businesses should be deemed essential. Republicans have supported Cooper’s order, most notably U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.
While I believe Fuller is among the most effective county commissioners, this is a board that comes off petty and toxic at times. Some of that is rooted in insecurity about their role in shaping public policy.
Fuller regularly mentions how he represents the largest county in the ninth largest state in the nation. And this isn’t the first time he’s squabbled over the county being undermined or not getting its due.
I don’t have a problem if Fuller lobbies state lawmakers to close a loophole that would prevent towns from undermining the county’s authority in public health decisions, but I don’t think bashing other elected leaders now helps anybody.
The best thing any elected leader can do right now is reaching out to constituents to get perspective. I think Matthews, Mint Hill and the towns have been doing that.