• Mayor deserves better than slander

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    May 13, 2016
    A lot of people in and around Four Oaks are angry with Mayor Linwood Parker for trying to convince CSX to build a cargo-container hub on 450 acres south of town. We get that, but some of the charges levied against the mayor are baseless at best, slanderous at worst.

    At a meeting of opponents held late last month, one speaker claimed, with no evidence, that the mayor stood to gain financially from the CSX deal. That speaker is lucky the mayor isn’t hauling her to court.

    This newspaper hasn’t always seen eye to eye with the mayor; years ago, we clashed over how to replace Four Oaks School after it burned to the ground. But we can say without any reservation that what the mayor wants most of all is jobs for people who call Four Oaks home.

    A letter writer said the mayor was making empty jobs promises. The industrial park he had championed had delivered little in the way of jobs, the letter writer said, so why should Four Oaks residents believe the CSX hub would deliver where the industrial park has not? That’s a fair question, but the mayor would argue that his support of the cargo hub is an attempt to deliver on the promise of the industrial park, which does have one major tenant, medical-equipment maker and distributor Becton Dickinson. State officials think the cargo hub would spawn thousands of jobs in Eastern North Carolina, some of them in the fledgling industrial park in Four Oaks.

    You might remember that a few years ago now Mayor Parker, a Republican, appeared in a political ad for Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge, who was running to keep his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That cost Mayor Parker dearly in the Republican Party that he helped bring to dominance in Johnston, but he wanted to say thanks to the people who made the industrial park possible, even if one of those people was a Democrat. The potential jobs mattered more to him than political party.

    We haven’t always liked every politician we’ve met, and we’ve trusted even fewer. But if you think Four Oaks Mayor Linwood Parker cares more about himself than he does jobs for his neighbors, you don’t know him well.

    Yes, we can debate whether the mayor, with the CSX hub, hitched himself to the wrong job-creating wagon. But we can’t condemn him for trying to lure the jobs that will give the community’s young people a reason to still call Four Oaks home after they graduate from high school.

    (This op-ed was printed in The Smithfield Herald on April 29, 2016.)

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    Rick Childrey, President
    (919) 934-9166

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