Barfield vs. White

Recently, the Wilmington StarNews Editorial Board (EB) weighed-in on a local political dispute between Chairman of the New Hanover County Commissioners, Jonathan Barfield, and Commissioner Woody White (1). Barfield is liberally in favor of more government spending, debt and taxes, and White conservatively wants less of it. Editors chose to make news under the banner: “Barfield-White feud must end.” Let’s examine this “feud” and what editors call “animosity” between them.

It’s been well known that since the last County election strong ideological differences separate Barfield from White—inflammatory editorial rhetoric calls this “Our often-poisonous political environment.” Further, the EB writes:  this “compromises our efforts at good governance.” Not so.

Political debate is the basis for good government—sometimes bad policy results, but without vigorous defense of the limited role of government and the immorality of taking some people’s money to benefit others, our freedoms erode.

Unfortunately, liberals define “good” government as expanding the state; its size, cost and power—ultimately dangerous to the liberties of the citizens. We need political leaders who will stand stalwartly against this threat. Mr. White appears to be such a leader. Sadly, he seems to stand alone in his defense of prudent government in New Hanover County, North Carolina. I’ve written about this at my blog site (2).

Editors indicate parity in the conduct of the two commissioners and conclude by hoping that “they put any animosity they might have for each other aside and provide…unifying leadership.” Yet, who is it that has shown personal hostility toward his colleagues?

Recently, according to a parliamentarian writing in the StarNews, Barfield “apparently didn’t like the subject being discussed” and violated code of ethics rules by abruptly adjourning the meeting (3)—as the EB puts it, “walking out on his fellow commissioners.” After being given the chairmanship of the Board by the members one would expect he would be more respectful of them.

Passion in politics goes with the territory—so does disrespect, incivility and arrogance. In this case Woody White has shown passion for his belief in more responsible government. He has also behaved professionally and civilly. Even the StarNews Editorial Board can’t say that about Barfield.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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