To the Editor:
In the election article for Maggie Valley, I read three candidates — the mayoral candidate Ron DeSimone and two of candidates for aldermen, Phil Aldridge and Phillip Wight — are quoted as being in lockstep for their agenda, which seems mystical. I question their unspoken agendas and their personal experiences in town government. I have read of Aldridge’s attacks on those he disagrees with. I wonder if this trio has positive approaches to deal with current economic times.
My personal experience began with Ron DeSimone at a public hearing over the sanction of the Maggie Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Home in July 2009. He was chair of the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the Town of Maggie Valley (a position he held from April 2005 until 2010, when he was not re-appointed). A second hearing at the Town Hall was held in July 2009, and in an official capacity I attended to support senior citizens and their needs. I waited until the end of the hearing, listening to both sides, and was recognized to speak.
Mr. DeSimone asked me what right did I have to speak and I answered. I told him I was born in the town in 1937, had lived here all my life, that we needed the facility and the employment and revenues, that I was an aging advocate with the N.C. Tarheel Legislature and a county representative to the Region A Area on Aging, and I believe I may have embarrassed him.
Shortly after, a letter to the editor was published under a false name attacking me and my brothers, who also live in the valley and are business and professional men. The source has been undetermined, but we know it was not a woman and that the writer was at that hearing.
Maggie Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center opened in August and is a credit to the leadership of the Town of Maggie Valley. DeSimone was clearly opposed to this just two years ago. Aldridge has been in office for the last eight years; he has aligned himself with the opposition at each election and then falls out of favor with those he supported. Aldridge facilitated the “no charge” for the Festival Grounds for the Popcorn Jam II in July and yet allowed a private restaurant to sell food and beverages and admission, sell tee shirts and make a profit without allowing other local businesses to partake of the Popcorn Spoils. Wight uses scare tactics of increased taxation yet he is unaware of the recent town audit that does not support his fear-mongering. Maggie Valley voters have a heavy responsibility to look beyond the signboards and rumors to truly understand which candidates are best.
I want my community of Maggie Valley to grow and continue to be a hospitable village where the business people, the residents and the visitors can live and share in harmony of the wonders of our mountains and our streams and our way of life. Bitterness and name-calling do not project a friendly place to live or visit. We all have the responsibility of promoting friendliness and unity. No elected board can bring that about.
Ernestine E. Upchurch