County Commissioner David Barlow gave a very backhanded congratulations to incoming commissioner Pota Coston, the Democrat candidate who beat incumbent Allen McCarty convincingly in the recent election for the newly established Fayette County 5th District.
Coston has the distinction of being the first black candidate to be elected to the county commission.
Her election comes amidst an ongoing legal dispute between the county and the NAACP. The NAACP lawsuit which established a minority-majority 5th district in north Fayette County is still being appealed by the county commission and the board of education. The legal victory for the NAACP established district voting for the county, to replace the prior at-large system in which all residents could vote for all open commission seats.
Barlow distributed copies of his comments to local media prior to the commission’s meeting Thursday, which Coston attended. Barlow read his prepared comments at the end of the meeting during the designated commissioner comment portion.
He opened by honoring veterans before transitioning into the following quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort or convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Barlow then went on to equate Democrats to demons and suggest their election amounted to an “evil that has been proliferating throughout our great nation.”
“We conservative Christians have been unmercifully attacked by the liberal demoncrats [Ed. Note: misspelling intended] and liberal press throughout Obama’s Presidency. November 4th changed all that,” Barlow said. “I will work tirelessly to see that in 2016 the GOP regains the Presidency thereby nullifying the evil that has been proliferating throughout our great nation. I declare this, in the mighty name of Jesus.”
Barlow then congratulated Coston for her win, before noting he first met her when he was campaigning against her on behalf of Eric Dial in the race for Mayor of Tyrone. Dial would win that race. [Correction: Pota Coston and Eric Dial were running in the same election cycle but not for the same position. Coston was seeking a seat on the Tyrone Town Council.]
“Pota and I would be on the street every morning holding signs, so naturally we began to speak to one another,” Barlow said. “We even prayed together for God’s Will to be done. Even though I disagree with how she won, I look forward to working with her.”
Barlow concluded his comments with a lengthy quote from county resident Terry Garlock in which he said the district voting system that paved the way for Coston’s election is racist.
“Furthermore, the whole racist district voting project had the underhanded goal of getting DEMOCRATS elected in a heavy Republican county,” Garlock said in the quote put forth by Barlow. “If I moved to a heavy Democrat county, would I have any right to change the voting system and Gerrymander a racial district trying to ensure a Republican result? Of course not. So pardon me if I don’t buy [sic] the happy-happy-happy view on recent changes in Fayette that stole 4/5ths of every voter’s county votes.”
Democrat Leonard Presberg also won convincingly in his bid for the District 5 Board of Education seat.
Democrat Ogechi Oparah was defeated by a similarly convincing margin for the District 4 Board of Education seat, losing to Republican Diane Basham.
On Friday, Presberg said the Fayette County Democratic party had not formulated an official response to Barlow’s comments but he offered his thoughts.
“It’s just unfortunate that the best he can do for the large percentage of the people in this country is demonize them and attack them in public. I don’t see how as a county commissioner he can claim to be representing the interests of the people in this county if he can’t even be civil,” Presberg said.
He went on to question why nobody on the commission countered Barlow.
“It’s one thing for him to have these beliefs but when he says them in public like that it makes a difference. The fact that nobody in the room said anything about it…” Presberg said. “At some point that becomes the message coming out of the meeting. If that’s the behavior that is acceptable to the other commissioners as representing the county then I worry about the health of the county.”
Coston opted not to comment, referring instead to current Fayette County Democratic Party Chair Dawn Mabra.
Coston will take office January 1, 2015.