Pulling no punches

A draft for an ad.

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AN OPEN LETTER FROM JULIAN “PUDDY” SMITH TO THE CITIZENS OF COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 5

At the County Commission meeting on June 21st, Allen Booker, your commissioner for the last five and a half years, voted with the other three mainland commissioners to take authority for reviewing and approving preliminary plats from the two planning commissions and giving that authority to the county planning staff.

The following morning, I sent Commissioner Booker an email in which I expressed my disappointment about his vote and asked five simple questions:

1. Why would he go along with Commissioners Brunson, Browning, and Strickland to reject the unanimous recommendation of the two planning commissions in support of leaving that authority with the planning commissions.
2. Was it because he expected those three mainland commissioners to support him on some other issues?
3. Didn’t he understand that poorly controlled development on the islands and in the unincorporated mainland will make good development and redevelopment less likely in his district, which includes most of the city of Brunswick?
4. Didn’t he pay attention to and understand the reasons why so many citizens spoke in opposition to the scheme to curtail the authority of our two planning commissions?
5. When and why did he, the only Democrat on the county commission, stop acting like a Democrat?

In response, Commissioner Booker called me at home, ranted at me, refused to give me a chance to speak, and then sent me an email using his county email address: “You openly support people who are not a friend of African American people and you have the nerve to question me about being a Democrat. You ride around with bumper stickers of Republicans on your car and actively campaign for Republicans. One thing I know God is real and Christ is his Son!!”

Nowhere in that email or in his phone call did he answer any of my five simple questions. Instead, he indulged in peevish faulty claims, played the race card, and ended by retreating into religious fervor.

Let me clear the partisan record: while I supported Peter Murphy and Bob Coleman in the 2016 Republican primary and now support Mark Stambaugh in his primary run-off with David O’Quinn for the honor and privilege of running against me in November, I did not support them because they are Republicans but because I believed they were the best candidates in their primaries. I do not have bumper stickers for any Republicans on my car. I was born a Democrat and expect to die one—but not because I am one.

Now let me move on to Commissioner Booker’s more serious charge: that I “openly support people who are not a friend of African American people.” I don’t know who those people I openly support might be, or why he thinks they are not friends of African American people, but I will be happy to discuss the matter with him in a public venue of his choice—and to discuss my active involvement in the civil rights struggle in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the ‘fifties and early ‘sixties—and why I was arrested, jailed, court-martialed, and threatened with violence because of my support for civil rights and my opposition to racism.

If you know and support Commissioner Booker, please ask him to explain why he hasn’t answered the first four of my five questions—and to answer them to your satisfaction.

And please join others in every commission district to vote for me as your new county commissioner at-large so I can sit next to Commissioner Booker in the seat now held by Mark Stambaugh.

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THIS PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT WAS PAID FOR BY JULIAN “PUDDY” SMITH

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I might add that I am not a disinterested bi-stander
Commissioner Booker recruited me to serve as Secretary on one of his community organizations. Then, when I took notes and distributed them to the attendees, he objected to the information being made public and I eventually had to explain to him that I have no interest or time to participate in a secret society.
When I filed a complaint about a weedy and trash strewn lot in the neighborhood on which some commercial vehicles were parked, he told me they were OK because they belonged to a “friend.”
I admit it is a failing of long standing that I go by the act, not the person.
Hannah