I hope to first establish that a woman can be liberated and a conservative and explain how I grew to be both. Politics and current events are my passion and I want to give my take on the issues as a mature conservative woman. I plan to also share sometimes intimate details of my five-decade journey with all of the blood, sweat, and tears that led me to this place of great promise.
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Friday, May 22, 2015
WHO IS WOODY SPONG?
WHO IS WOODY SPONG?
This has been
the question that everyone in Washington County has been asking since the
announcement of his choice for appointment as county commissioner by the Washington
County Republican Central Committee (WCRCC). This is the first and last time
that I will write about a person. I am an activist and political commentator. I
do not conduct interviews, and I do not write about people. I write about
issues. A few people suggested that I ask for the interview. I did, and I got
it. It didn’t turn out like I expected. This article is much longer than most
of my other posts, and my opinion changed between the time that I conducted the
interview and when I finished writing about it. I will start with a little history
for those who have not been following the Washington County Republican appointment
HISTORY OF APPOINTMENT
appointment of Senator Christopher Shank by Governor Hogan as the new executive
director of the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention on January
21, 2015, caused a domino effect of open seats in Washington County. The WCRCC
was tasked by the Maryland State Constitution to submit names to the governor
for the seats of senator, delegate (District 2A,) and county commissioner. The
appointments for senator and delegate have been made, and Senator Andrew
Serafini and Delegate William J. Wivell have been officially sworn in.
appointment for commissioner has also effectively been made except for a few
formalities. This is because the Appointments Office had closed for the session
before this appointment could be officially completed. I am told that the governor
must accept the name submitted by the WCRCC, but that the Senate will vote to
accept or deny it when the new session begins in January 2016, and that it is not likely that they will vote to deny.
Vincent “Woody” Spong has been sworn in as the acting commissioner until it
becomes official at that time.
All of the
appointments have been reported to have caused at least some degree of discord
between many of those in the Republican Party and the WCRCC, but none like the
selection of Woody Spong. The Herald Mail published articles and there were a
few articles written on-line that questioned if Commissioner Terry Baker
influenced the appointment. There have been social media debates and
disagreements, letters have been written to the WCRCC questioning the process, one
email was written asking for the resignation of Chairman Showe, and it is
rumored that five local Republicans with money and influence even called the
interviewed the Chairman of the WCRCC for his perspective on the process, the
outcome, and the public response regarding all of the appointments. That can be
read by clicking on the link: Interview with Steven Showe. That article was received by many as
informative and even restorative, while others felt that it presented either
mistaken or intentional misinformation given either by Showe and/or myself.
Clearly there continues to be mistrust and discord in the Party. As for myself,
I will begin by repeating in part the disclaimer provided in the Showe article.
I had no prior
connection to Vincent “Woody” Spong before this interview. I am a Conservative
activist and blogger. I normally do not conduct interviews or write about
people, preferring to write about issues. I have nothing personal to gain or to
lose by this interview. Although I had been a loyal Republican for 30 years, I
now identify strictly as a Conservative. I have no influence in the Washington
County Republican Party or the Washington County Republican Central Committee,
and I am not even a member of the Washington County Republican Club any longer.
In fact, although I still own a home in Washington County, I have been
"temporarily" living in Baltimore County for nearly two years. I have
no personal friendships on the WCRCC. I do have three acquaintances out of the
six who voted to fill these positions, having briefly served on one Board with
one member and having occasionally attended the same political events as two
others. Full disclosure: Even though it has no connection to the WCRCC
appointment of Commissioner Spong, I am currently a contracted employee for
Delegate William Wivell in a politically benign position as a social media
consultant. I also compile data for him into document form, one day a week
working from home. I will reserve stating my opinion on Mr. Spong’s appointment
until the end of this article.
All of the information
about Woody Spong was taken directly from a 2-hour, face-to-face interview with
him. Any contradictions or errors in facts are his own. I began by asking
general background information about family, education, and his work history.
Woody Spong is 71-years old, and has been a
lifelong citizen of Washington County. He lived in Williamsport for about 12
years, moving to Hagerstown at age 20 where he has remained.He is married to Connie Spong. They have one
daughter and one granddaughter who is the apple of his eye.
Education and Work History/Career
Spong’s first job out of high school was at
the Washington County Hospital in the Housekeeping Department. He also worked
at Pangborn as a clerk and at the Herald Mail in the Circulation Department
before heading off to college at the University of Maryland. He paid for his
room, but ran the kitchen at the fraternity house, washing dishes, preparing
the menu, and ordering inventory to pay for his board (food, etc.). Tuition was
$200, but after teaching for two years the state forgave the tuition. He
graduated in 1967 with a degree in Education, and went on to get his Master’s
Degree in School Administration at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel
Mr. Spong was a teacher for 10 years and a
school principal for 22 years. His last assignment as principal was at Salem
Avenue Elementary School for 16 years, which earned the National Blue Ribbon
Award of Excellence in 1998. Spong retired from the school system in 1999.
After retiring he was the executive director of Leadership Hagerstown for five
years, and a hunting guide for the Woodmont Rod & Gun Club for five years.
Education has clearly been his passion and
career choice, but when I asked him what is passion is he jokingly said that
his real passion was “teasing the students.”Besides education, he has been an avid observer of local politics and
active “behind the scenes”. He said that he is well versed on all of the
commissioners who have served over decades and the issues that they faced in
there time in office. After retiring he
became very active pursuing his hobby in showing his beloved retriever dogs and
often served as a field trial judge.
There was a
lot of concern expressed over Spong having once been a Democrat, and also that
he has never campaigned or held an elected office, so I wanted to spend a
significant amount of time on this subject.
Woody Spong first became involved in
politics at stuffing envelopes and handing out literature door-to-door for the
JFK campaign. He said, “I admired that man, and like most of the people in this
country, I was really sad when he was killed. For young people…he was someone
who could get you stirred up, and that’s what got me into politics.”
Spong expressed some frustration that none
of the recent articles mentioned that he was the treasurer for Herb McElwee’s unsuccessful
campaign for Delegate of District 3A in 1974. He stated that McElwee was a
Republican and his next door neighbor. McElwee was the president and owner of
Superior Dairy. Spong said that he was “twisted” on party principles, and that he and
McElwee agreed on some things but not everything. He mainly agreed to act as
treasurer because “he was a neighbor and he asked him”. However, I did my own
research and found that McElwee was actually a Democrat. When I asked Mr. Spong
about McElwee, he said that he honestly thought that he was a Republican, but
that it didn’t matter to him. He said, “He was a friend. It was a favor.” I
will mention this again and with further detail later in my opinion summary.
Next he served as treasurer for John
Salvatore’s campaign for Delegate. Salvatore was a Democrat and his
brother-in-law. Salvatore asked him to help him on his campaign. Spong felt
that Salvatore, having served as a state’s attorney, was a “law and order guy”
and that was important to him at the time more than any other issue. He said, “I
liked him, so I did it.”
Spong voted Republican for years before
changing his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in 2006. He thinks that he first voted Republican in
Ronald Reagan’s second campaign for president and then continued to vote
straight Republican since that time. He feels that people are saying that he is
“not Republican enough” because he has only officially been a Republican for 9
years. He isn’t quite sure how to defend that supposition. He feels that he
gets a little more conservative every day. He said, “You know there is a saying
that inside every young Democrat there is an old Republican. I see things a lot
differently the older that I get.” When asked hypothetically if there was a
Conservative scale, from 1 to 10 with 10 being most Conservative, where he
would place himself fiscally, he said that he would be a 10. He said, “I
believe that this county needs to pay back more than it borrows at this time.
My ultimate goal would get us to be pay-as-you-go. That was Bill Wivell’s
feeling too.” When asked where he would
rate himself on that scale socially he said, “Socially it would be between 5
and 10 depending on the issue. I try to be good to people.”
repeatedly pointed out that he was the president of the teacher’s union for two
years, which is typically a Liberal alliance. He pointed out that it was in
his 5th & 6th year of his career at age 30. He said, “Apparently
after 40 years I still must have the stench of being president.” I think that
speaks to the hyperbole being used regarding this position that he held so long
ago to try to discredit him as a Conservative.
AVAILABILITY TO THE MEDIA
denied that he refused anyone an interview. He does regret that he was not
prepared to be interviewed the night of the swearing-in ceremony by WHAG TV. It
was a special evening with family, friends, and some supporters. He was in the
moment and it caught him off guard. He wished he had told the reporter that he
would be happy to give them a full interview if they would call him the next
day to set up a time. He said, “I couldn’t even remember what I said to the
newspaper until I saw it the next day. I wasn’t bushwacked. She [WHAG] was
sincerely asking a good question. She just asked me at the wrong time.”
that there is only one person who he would not give an interview (an opinion
writer with his own website), so I asked him why. He said, “I think he has an
agenda. He wants to abuse me. Everybody I know strongly recommends staying away
from him. ” This is based on a couple of articles written on his website and
the antagonistic emails sent to Chairman Showe about his appointment. Spong
read in one of these articles that he had supposedly refused to be interviewed
by Jim Miller, the CEO of After Five Productions and the Executive Producer of
Antietam Cable Channel 30’s The Flip Side, not once, but twice. Spong denied
this stating, “Whether that guy has called or emailed me, I don’t know. I
probably have over 200 emails on the office computer. I don’t get on the
computer, and not very often I get on Facebook to see what my friends are
doing. If it’s not right there I don’t scroll around to find out. Before I
became commissioner I had 1300 emails [personal email account] that I hadn’t
opened…that had accumulated over my lifetime at the computer.” He went on to
say, “The point I am trying to make is that I am not really a social media guy.
I try to take care of some of those emails every time that I get on.” I asked
if he thought that the emails may be a problem for him.He answered, “I’ve made up my mind. I’m going
in there almost every day to try to take care of them.” I asked if he would go to
his Facebook page more often? “Probably not. I don’t want to get hurt.”
This led me
to ask the obvious question as to whether or not he plans to be more accessible
to the public. Will you be going to more events, answering phone calls, answering
letters and emails? He answered, “As best I can…Yes! Yes, I am going to answer
them. I’m not trying to avoid anybody. Other than the WHAG reporter I have not
told anyone that I needed more time. I’ve told Lovelace [Herald Mail] anytime you
want to talk to me you call me. I said I know it’s your job. I will do
everything I can do to help you.”
I asked him
if he thought that the Herald Mail has been fair to him. He said, I was
disappointed in the one [managing editor, Jake Womer] saying that me being a
friend of Terry Baker’s means that I will vote for his programs. But on the
other hand Terry Baker had the most votes of anybody ever in Washington County.
I was disappointed in that because when I ran a school I was my own man and
tried to make the school what I thought it could be. After going to a workshop called Developing a
Vision…that changed the way I looked at things. My vision was that Salem Avenue
was going to be the best school in the county and we were.” He also was
disappointed in Mr. Wormer’s remarks because he attended a Leadership
Hagerstown class when Mr. Spong was involved and he said, “I thought he knew me
better and thought better of me.”
COMMISSIONER TERRY BAKER
Most of the
complaints about Mr. Spong’s appointment surround his relationship with Terry
Baker. The implication by some was that Commissioner Baker wanted Spong to run
so that he would have an ally on the Board [How is this worse than the
brother-in-laws?], but the more serious accusation was that he may have
influenced the appointment. I approached this in the Interview with Steven Showe, but I wanted to hear from Mr. Spong
directly. Also, after I posted the interview with Showe, there was some
blowback regarding this claim. One person called to “report” a meeting in a bar
between Showe, Baker, and Spong as evidence of collusion. There was no evidence
of this meeting, it was told to me off-the-record, and this person had a personal
problem with Steve Showe, was personally disappointed with who was not appointed, and had political
aspirations of their own. Therefore, I did not give it much credence. I asked
Spong about it later in this interview.
Woody Spong said
that he has been friends with Terry Baker for 35 years, long before he served
as treasurer for Baker’s campaign for commissioner in 2006. He became friends
with Baker in 1980 when he met him while out jogging. They would talk while
running, but Baker was a faster runner making it hard to continue a
conversation. This led to meeting in Spong’s home for friendly political
discussions. According to Mr. Spong, before this appointment they were not the
type of friends always on the phone or frequenting one another’s homes. Spong
has never been to Baker’s home. They didn’t vacation or spend holidays
together. They did go fishing together a couple of times a year.
that Baker often called him to let him know what is going on politically and
also to ask his advice. Spong recounted when Baker was “really waffling around
on Emerald Pointe”. He told Baker, “Terry, you vote no. Don’t you vote for that.
The people don’t want it.” Terry was the only vote against it, and Spong said
that it was the right vote.
The following answers are direct quotes.
Did Commissioner Baker ask you to
apply for the position?
Yes. He said you need to run for commissioner. He said you will be the best
commissioner there [laughing]. It often came up over the years that I should
run for commissioner.
Did he ask you to do so as an
wouldn’t I vote for his programs if he has 26,000 voting for him? For two
elections in a row he has been the top vote getter. If I’m going to represent
the people I’ve got to look at that. He is a solid Conservative and so am I. I
tell you what, Bill Wivell would have voted the same as him also. Wivell and
him were an alliance. I bet they would vote together every time. I am not a
puppet. We do have like minds.
Would you vote independently if you
and he did not agree?
Sure. We’ve talked about that. We have had that discussion and we understand
that will probably happen.
Can you think of one issue that you
might have voted differently than him?
Yes, the recycling fee at the dump. He voted for it.I would have voted against it.
Why didn’t you ever run for
had the time before I retired, and then after I retired my time was taken up
with the dog trials.
How is that different now?
My dogs aren’t competing anymore due
to age and other factors, and I would not be getting a new dog to start over
Did you think that Baker had the pull
to get you appointed?
I never thought about that. He told
me that he was confident that I would interview the best.
This lead to a discussion about the
reported bar incident:
I told Mr.
Spong that someone is questioning Steve Showe’s claim that he didn’t know
that Spong had any connection to Terry Baker until two days before the vote. They said that is untrue
because they report seeing you, Baker, and Showe at the bar together after the
March Republican Club meeting where he had stood up and announced that he had
applied for the appointment. Spong
immediately denied that he was at the bar with Showe, stating “They didn’t see
Showe there. It was Jeff Cline and some guy that I don’t know. The seating at
the bar was: the unknown guy, Terry, me, and then Jeff Cline.” Spong said he
didn’t know who Showe was at the time, but now that he knows, he can state for
sure that he was not sitting at the bar with them. I have since asked Showe
about this claim and he said that he saw Terry and Jeff sitting at the bar and
stopped to say hello as he passed them in the bar, but he did not sit with
them. I asked if he and Terry Baker were sitting together at the meeting prior?
He said no because Baker arrived late and sat in the back. Someone who is prone
to gossip is spreading this “bar meeting” scenario via social media as if there
were “many” claiming to have witnessed it. I had one person call me, and as I
said early, this person had too much personally invested to be taken seriously
when there was no evidence, no one to back it up, and they wanted their
identity to be kept anonymous. Only a tabloid would run with that story.
Spong went on
to say, “I would never question their [the committee’s] integrity. Jim Warner
would not let anything like that happen and Steve Showe seems like a good
chairperson. I’ve talked to him since and my sense is that he didn’t even vote
for me.” His sense would be right. I was told by Showe off-the-record at the
time of his interview that he did not vote for Spong. Since then, Showe has
told others and it seems to be public knowledge, so I am glad to finally be
able to say it. Steve Showe did not vote for Woody Spong. He is defending the
decision of the group and taking the heat for the outcome that he did not choose.
He didn’t want anyone to know because he wanted to keep the group united and
the Party to heal and move on. The vote was 4-2 and Showe and one other person,
unknown to me, did not vote for him. So this bar meeting scenario becomes a moot point.
besides Bill McKinnley no one knows more about local politics and issues than I
do. I am a government geek. I have been since I read Woodward and Bernstein’s
book about Nixon’s impeachment. That really hooked me. I pay attention to local
politics. I’ve been following the Board of Commissioners and recognize almost
everyone of them from 1970 to my time. I’ve been very interested in what they
have done, what they have said, and what’s been reported.”
complained that they don't know where Mr. Spong stands on local issues. I know
that the Central Committee asked for an essay for his top three priorities. He
said that they were education, volunteer fire & emergency medical services
(EMS), and economic development. I asked if he had a copy of his essay and he
said that he did not. I asked if I could request a copy from the committee and
he said that he would have no problem with me getting a copy. However, once the
committee forwarded a copy of his essay to him, he refused to let me see it. I
asked for it because I thought it may actually help him because his is answers
regarding issues were not very comprehensive. He told me that he had given me
an interview and that was all that I was going to get. I was stunned by the
change in his attitude. “There is too much going on and I don’t want anything
else getting out there.” So this is it:
answers are Spong’s direct quotes.
You were in the education field for
many years. Do you see a difference in the challenges facing educators today?
is much greater on the people [teachers and principals] today than during my
time. There is a great deal of pressure not only to perform but to do clerical
duties. They have to enter grades on the computer. There is a lot more record
keeping and paperwork for teachers. They don’t take anything away. They just
pile on. Those people work hard.
Where do you stand on the BOE having
the ability to independently borrow $10M?
I am opposed
to it, but it doesn’t matter. Serafini [Annapolis] is the one who will decide.
The county commissioners have no power except to voice opposition. We can’t
vote on it, but I oppose it.
Why do you oppose it?
paying back that loan: we are going to give them money every year and then they
have to find the money out of the money given to them by the county commissioners
to pay back the interest on the loan. I think they said it would be less than
one percent, but I don’t want any money that is given to the school system by
the county commissioners to be used to pay back a debt.
How about money for the downtown
have taken $4M out of their reserve fund and allocated that, it hasn’t been
used, but it’s earmarked to go downtown to the education hub. They asked the
City for $1.5M. My understanding is they’ve asked the County for another $4M,
plus a bond for $6M. I can’t seem to find out the expected total cost, but
that’s $15M. What is a boutique school anyway? I would like to help the City. I
would like to help the BOE. But I can’t. They are like piranhas right now grabbing
Do you oppose the Academic Hub
strictly based on finances, or are you concerned that resources meant for
“regular” public schools are being given to schools like BISFA and perhaps
other specialty schools?
That is a
true statement. I feel that’s the way it is going to be. But for the most part
it is the money issue. Plus just before I was sworn in, they [BOE] asked to
transfer $750,000 at the end of this year, and I don’t know from what account,
to the reserve fund. So eventually that will go to the downtown hub. It is just
too much too fast. I have no idea what a boutique school is or what they are
going to do because they haven’t said [anything definite].
commissioners are paying $4M for the retirement fund at the state of Maryland.
That started a year or two ago. We took on that burden, $4M this year and I
think it’s supposed to be $5M next year. They kind of forget that when they
come and ask for money. It’s like we haven’t given them anything, but I think
education has been pretty well taken care of. They do get the largest part of
Economic Growth: Do
you have a plan for attracting and maintaining businesses and good paying jobs to
I did provide
a plan. I think it was a question on the Internet. I had to name top three
priorities and what I would do to improve it. My top three priorities were
education, volunteer fire & EMS, and economic development. I don’t think I
have a copy. My daughter might have a copy because she did the typing. I had
ideas. A plan is more complex.
I would make
some changes. Do you ever actually see or hear what is being done in Washington
County? I know that they always say that they can’t say but they have a big
company coming or something. Do you know why we lost Campbell Soup, or whatever
it was, over in West Virginia? They needed 370 contiguous acres and they were
told that we didn’t have it. I think we could have came up with it if someone
had approached neighboring farmers [and landowners]. I think they should have
had someone to do the work to accommodate them. It bothers me that people who
are hired to find prospective locations for these big businesses can pick up
the Herald Mail and we look like the murder capital of the world. It’s always
on the front page. I’m sure they look at the newspaper. I’m sure they look at
the workforce. I am sure they look at education. We certainly get a star in
education right now. I think we can put things together to train a workforce. I
believe if we needed some kind of machinists to qualify that the community college
could set one up real quick. We are not going to get scientific companies to
come to the county until we get a four-year college. If I was a scientific
company I wouldn’t settle in downtown Hagerstown. I’d settle near University
Maryland. I would be willing to pay the economic director a percentage of the
value of the businesses that they bring in. [There were a few additional ideas
Do you have any ideas about improving
how the county conducts business like bidding for contracts, etc.? Many are
concerned that people may be able to profit from decisions made by the Board, such
as Board members or friends and/or relatives and/or business associates of
answer that at all. I haven’t been involved yet to know. I will say this, that
the short time that I have been involved they have really good people working
for them. I haven’t really thought about bids and purchases. I believe there
are ethics rules in place. I think in Frederick County a sitting county
commissioner cannot get a bid for county projects. I do believe in that.
Would you support funding a new
stadium in Hagerstown?
absolutely not. If we had given them money we certainly wouldn’t have had any
money to give to the school board.
How much would you agree should be
spent by the county for the current Hagerstown redevelopment plan?
I like that
they are doing something and they are doing something different. You know,
there is such a thing as in-kind services. This may be off the wall, but why
couldn’t our roads department do something for them to help put in the trails?
We’d pay salaries and they would pay for materials. We could loan them in-kind
services. I’m not interested in giving money, but I would look at something
I-81 is a big
bad bear and isn’t moving very fast. The county doesn’t have the money to get
involved in I-81 except maybe to lobby. I don’t have any other thoughts about
transportation at this time.
Volunteer Fire & EMS
I am all for
the volunteers. My heart goes out to those people. I don’t know if the Fairplay
station should be given back. I didn’t pay too much attention to that at that
time. I don’t know the particulars. It’s in courts now and whatever they decide
is what we’ll do. But I want to prop the volunteers up. [He offered no details
on how he would prop them up.] They are the biggest asset that Washington
County has. If they stopped their runs and we didn’t have volunteers…you talk
about taxes. They do have a recruiter now. They need some office power like a
secretary to follow up with prospective volunteers. I don’t think the county
needs more control over the administration of these fire stations. They have
enough control. Anymore would be meddling. I don’t know if we should relinquish
any control. I am willing to talk about it.
Do you have any ideas on agriculture?
I don’t have
any ideas and I wish I did for the farmers. There is another group of people
that my heart goes out to. They are hard workers. I don’t know if they’ve ever
asked for anything.
What do you think about Plan Maryland?
I am not
familiar with that.
Thoughts on county taxes?
I am really
amazed that the county has been able to hold the line on their taxes for 16
years. I don’t want to be on the Board when they raise them. I fear the time
will come when it may be necessary. I will never say never, but my intention
going in here is not to raise taxes…and fees are taxes. If I see where we are
falling behind on infrastructure, or schools, or fire and police then I may
consider a raise in taxes.
is debt. I imagine that is how we finance the debt. I’d be very cautious about
voting for new bonds. Seven percent of the budget goes to paying back debt.
Supposedly we can go to 10 percent and still be in very good shape.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
I ended the
interview by asking Mr. Spong if there was anything that he would like people
to know about himself, the process, or about how he will serve. I asked, “Is
there anything that you want to say?” He said:
“I’m not Terry
Baker’s lackey, but if I vote with him it doesn’t mean that he is controlling
me. I believe we will be of like mind, and I’m filling Bill Wivell’s shoes who
would have voted with him. I’m certain they would have voted as a bloc. So
don’t look at me that I’m controlled by anybody. Terry would never do that. He
is not like that. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Kind, very
kind person. He would never tell me what to do. I know that he wouldn’t. He
that he thinks that the process was legit and fair. He did everything that they
asked him to do including an application, an essay, and a cover letter. I asked
if Baker helped him to prepare any of those things and he said that he did not.
He finished by saying, “I don’t think there is any reason to question the
integrity of that group. I was amazed actually with the strength of the people
[on the Central Committee]. That comes from the job that I had before. I picked
my own teachers and I interviewed people. My sense immediately was the strength
in that room. My point being that any observation of them being led or twisted…I
don’t think Terry has any power to twist any of those arms.”
IN CONCLUSION: MY OPINION
The process is
determined by the state constitution. The members of the committee are elected
unless filling a vacant seat between elections. The members fill that vacancy.
The committee is tasked to fill the vacancies of senator, delegate, and commissioner
by providing the governor with the name of the person that they have chosen.
They are required to give one name, but may give more than one. There is no process
spelled out for the committee to follow in order to make that choice. If the
citizenry do not like the process they are free to do the work to pass an
amendment to the constitution.
that the committee performed their duties as required by the state constitution
using all available information and with complete integrity. Mr. Showe clearly
did not strong arm anyone to vote for Spong, having himself voted against him.
There was another member who did not vote for Spong. I did not interview the
other four members who voted for Spong, but there has been nothing or no one to
Appointment of Woody Spong
This is the
part that I dread. I don’t want to give my opinion about a person, especially
one who has not voted or offended my politics in any way because he simply hasn’t
even had a chance to do. If he had voted to spend millions of
dollars on a new stadium I would be all over him. He hasn’t done a thing to
merit criticism, but if he had campaigned for this position he certainly would
have been under intense scrutiny by the public, the media, and bloggers like
myself. That said, I think the public deserved this interview. They deserve to
know where he stands on issues. They deserve to know the person who is representing
them. So here goes:
would not have voted for Woody Spong for this position.
By all appearances
he is a good man, a family man, and he has worked hard all of his life and was
an asset to the education of the children of our community. He has lived
amongst us (meaning the community, not myself as I am a “transplant”) all of
our lives. He is one of us. He knows the people. He knows the history. He knows
the culture, and he knows the politics. He is pure Washington County.
political “journey”, I am not convinced that his involvement politically was
inspired by a deep allegiance to the principles of either Party. It appears
that his hands-on experience serving as treasurer on at least three campaigns
for candidates of both parties was inspired mostly by being a good friend or
relative of a candidate. McElwee was a neighbor, Salvatore was his
brother-in-law, and Terry Baker was his friend. As he said about McElwee when I
pointed out that he was wrong about to which Party he belonged, “It didn’t
matter. He was a friend and it was a favor.”I do believe, however, that at this time he is a conservative man. He may
not be able to recite the Republican Party platform, but he truly espouses
Conservative principles. I am personally comfortable that he will be a
Conservative vote that would be close to how William Wivell would have voted,
which is who he is replacing, so in my opinion it is fitting. I think it is
time to stop looking for the hidden Democrat tattoo or devil horns and accept
that the man is a Conservative.
I don’t think
that Spong is avoiding the media. I think that he is uncomfortable with the
media. He is not accustomed to having their interest. He is not used to people
writing and reporting about his every word. He is inexperienced. In addition,
he has been maligned by baseless implications. He is not used to having to
defend himself in public at an instance notice. Only experienced politicians can
handle that circus. He is not an experienced politician. He is just getting
started. I do not believe he has anything to hide or any guile towards the
media. He just needs some time to get used to the water in the deep end.
issues, I gave you his answers. I don’t think he has any deeper of a grasp on
the facts than the average reader of the Herald Mail. I would have preferred
more. That may be all that is needed. I’m all for average Joe-citizen serving
their community. I think that anyone can see by those answers that he espouses
Conservative principles. I was disappointed that he reneged on his promise to
let me see his essay. I think it would have been helpful.
I would have
voted for a candidate who is more computer savvy. This is a common skill that
is becoming crucial if you want to serve as an elected official. You have to be
willing and able to at least easily answer an email. Social media may not be as
crucial but it is quickly becoming the primary way for politicians to
communicate with their constituents.
I do not
think that Terry Baker had anything to do with his appointment or that he will be
an extension of Baker. He is his own man. He is more of a friend and a good guy
than a politician, but I believe his vote will belong to him.
I do think
that Woody Spong is going to have to grow some thicker skin. As any
commissioner could probably relate, not everyone is going to agree with his choices.
People may question him and they can sometimes do so in a most public and
obnoxious manner. You have to be able to take it. You have to be able to
respond in a dignified and insightful manner. When I pointed out that he was
wrong about the Party that McElwee represented he was downright spooked. The man
who had taken the time to let me interview him in his home and invited me to
call back with questions, was now skittish and defensive and couldn’t get me off
of the phone fast enough. He refused to give me the essay, as if I was going to
use it in someway against him, when I was only trying to enhance his
presentation on the issues. If he was intimidated by that minor
misunderstanding and request…he is in for a huge helping of some very strong
He is a good
man. He deserves to be treated with respect. He is not the man that I would have chosen. He was chosen, so I’m over it.
I choose my battles, and I’m pretty sure this one is over and everyone has gone
home. I will be watching to see how he votes on issues. After all that is what
it is all about…issues, issues, issues.