Harsh words are being exchanged over a new campaign mailer from Democrat Steve Rao that blasts Republican Commissioner Tony Gurley over his election as chairman and how he reacted when Commissioner Stan Norwalk asked for a recess for health reasons.
In the mailer, Rao questions Gurley's leadership for taking advantage of Betty Lou Ward's unexcused departure for a potty break last December to be elected chairman. Rao also accuses Gurley of denying Commissioner Stan Norwalk his insulin by voting against recessing the lengthy meeting.
Gurley argues that Rao's campaign is lying about him denying Norwalk insulin. He also accused Rao of engaging in negative campaigning.
"Tony Gurley not only used a parliamentary trick when his colleague went to the bathroom to become Chairman, but he was the only Commissioner to vote against taking a recess after 10 hours to allow another Commissioner to receive his insulin shot, and Mr. Gurley is a pharmacist," says Rao's mailer. "Denying someone with diabetes insulin and waiting for a colleague to go to the bathroom to take a vote. What kind of leadership is that?"
The mailer cites the minutes of the meeting as its source.
As you guys may recall, it was around 2 a.m. during the marathon meeting when Norwalk raised concerns about not having had his insulin shot. The meeting was deadlocked as the board kept voting 3-3 over naming Ward or Paul Coble as vice chair.
Gurley said today the ad is lying in stating he denied Norwalk insulin. He points to how he offered to have someone go to an all-night pharmacy to get some insulin.
Gurley said he did not vote against the recess to deny the insulin shot. He said he had voted no because Norwalk declined to skip the meeting if Harold Webb, whose absence resulted in the unusual events, was there after they resumed.
Gurley reiterated his charge from December that Norwalk was using a political ploy to call for the recess. He said Norwalk only wanted to delay the meeting so that they could get Webb to attend in hopes of either reversing the election of chairman or to get Ward named vice chair.
Ultimately, the board voted 5-1 to recess when the other Republicans backed the motion. Webb attended two days later and, after Democrats questioned the legitimacy of Gurley's election, wound up electing Ward as vice chair.
Gurley accused Rao of going back on his word of not launching a negative campaign.
But Perry Woods, Rao's campaign advisor, said the mailer isn't negative because it's "completely factual" and talking about Gurley's record.
Here's an official statement from Gurley:
I am shocked and disappointed in the recent direct mail pieces sent by the Democratic Party and my Democratic opponent Steve Rao. Until now the campaign has been civilized and focused on the important issues facing the County Commissioners and Wake County. Now, they have taken it not to the gutter but in their own words to “the potty”.
My opponent and the Wake County Democratic Party have accused me and my fellow Republican candidates for the Wake County Commission of things that we have no control over when it comes to the public school system. We do not set policy! The role of the Wake County Commission Is to provide the financial resources necessary to build, maintain and renovate schools so that our children have safe facilities that are conducive to learning.
And when it comes to setting policy for the Wake County school system, we ought to ask my opponent about his support of the Republican members of the school board who were elected last year. He must agree with something they did or said.
And shame on him for lying in his direct mail saying that I denied a fellow Commissioner time to take his insulin and insulting my profession as a Pharmacist. I did no such thing. That is about as crude as it gets when it comes to politics.
I have served the people of Wake County for the past 25 years as a Pharmacist. And for the past year I have traveled across North Carolina to attend free dental clinics that serve more than 500 to 600 people. I provide free antibiotics to the people who attend these clinics. This is one way I give back to the people of our great state.
Over the past eight years I have worked hard to focus on the issues important to the people of Wake County. Those issues include fiscal responsibility, job creation and economic development, adequate funding of our school system, public safety programs, Sheriff's Department, Human Services, and Parks and Recreation. I have worked to keep Wake County's property taxes low, and I am pleased to say that Wake County has one of the lowest tax rates of any major county in North Carolina.
My opponent needs to understand the role of a Wake County Commissioner.
I am proud of my record as a Wake County Commissioner, and I look forward to serving the people of Wake County for another four years.