By Mike Fryar-I am writing in response to the featured article in last week’s edition, “GOP Commissioners in crosshairs of ‘RINO’ hunt.” I’m unsure why I was included in this article, given that I have voted along predominantly conservative lines, but since Mrs. Bilello and Mr. Malt felt justified in coming after me, I believe it’s time to set the record straight.
First of all, Bilello has no standing in Buncombe County. If she would like to become a resident of Buncombe County, pay property taxes and sign up to vote here, then I wouldn’t mind listening to her and taking her concerns into consideration. Until then, there are good people from Buncombe County who are members of the Tea Party, and it is time for them to take control back. She had no part in helping to start the Asheville Tea Party, as I did, and certainly has no business being in any leadership role now. Why is she not a member of the Henderson County Tea Party, given that she lives and votes there?
I did not feel obligated to fill out a “job application” to run for County Commissioner, as was asked of me by the leadership of the Asheville Tea Party.
As Bilello stated in the article, all three of us declined to participate in the iCaucus. However, she failed to emphasize that all three of us won our races, which proves that the iCaucus is irrelevant in terms of local candidates being elected. They will never be able to claim me as “their candidate” because I did not and will never participate in the iCaucus, and I advise that no other candidate do so. I want to have the support of ALL of the people of District 2 for what I am trying to accomplish, including members of the Tea Party. It is everyone’s right to run for election without being harassed by any outside group.
As for Malt, I do not understand why the person who wrote this article referred to him as a conservative activist. Why not Republican activist, as I was previously called before taking office, or better yet, why not just call a spade a spade and refer to him as a Libertarian using the Republican Party as a tool to gain leverage because the Libertarian party in North Carolina has none. That’s what I, personally, would consider to be a “RINO”.
I also don’t want it to go without saying that I have witnessed the hard work and dedication by Chairman Henry Mitchell, the board members, and precinct chairs for the past three years to bring the Republican Party to the forefront and get candidates elected, and for Malt to suggest anything different is absurd. All I have seen Malt do is set up a group of three or four members called Buncombe Forward (unaffiliated with the Republican Party) to endorse their chosen candidates. During the last election, he and his group invited all of the Republican candidates during the primary, excluding myself, to attend an interview to be considered for endorsement. His reason for excluding me (as explained by him to me) was because I was “unelectable and unable to raise money”. In the end, this group endorsed three commission candidates and five school board candidates. After withdrawing their endorsement of one of the commission candidates and Christina Merrill originally being declared the winner, but losing after a highly contested recount, their total number of endorsements was seven, of which only one selected candidate was elected as a school board member.
I would like to thank the good people of Buncombe County for their support and I would like to thank the Asheville Tribune for allowing me the opportunity to respond.