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Insurrection: WNC leaders react

In the interest of transparency, all responses from local officials regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection have been published online, in their entirety. Some submissions may have been lightly edited for grammar, spelling and punctuation or to conform with AP style. 

 

North Carolina General Assembly

Sen. Kevin Corbin

Violence and looting by anyone, for any political cause, is wrong and illegal.  The riot yesterday as well as the riots that have taken place over the past few months have been well documented by television stations as well as dozens of cell phone recordings. These people should be easily identified and held accountable for damages and charges like breaking and entering. 

The time has long passed for the microphone to be passed to those who want civility and honest conversations. In the past few months, including yesterday in Washington, there have been sincere people who truly want their cause heard. In addition to the sincere protesters, there have been instigators or “agitators” that have escalated the events to property damage and injury to persons.

With the Trump event yesterday [Jan. 6], there were people who sincerely wanted the election process reviewed and checked. They wanted nothing more but then the agitators were there to cause trouble.

Truth is that when property damage and violence occur, it hurts the cause of those who are protesting. I have several friends in Congress and they stated that a civil and peaceful conversation was being held in the halls of Congress, but when the violence started that the conversations were over and the vote was taken to certify the elections. 

Tens of millions of citizens voted for Trump, tens of millions voted for Biden.  99.9% did so and stand by their vote in a peaceful manner and not participating in any violent or destructive behavior.

Those folks are going to work, going to church, working in their communities, while the agitators and protesters on both sides of the issues give everyone a bad name. That is not fair and not right. Let the agitators be held accountable for their actions and let the rest of us remain engaged in civil conversations. 

We may not always agree but we agree to be agreeable and non-violent. I am disgusted by yesterday's events in our nation's Capitol.  These were not the acts of Republicans or Conservatives as I know them, these were acts of anarchists and thugs!  I believe t

his to have been a one-time thing but nevertheless disgraceful.  As many fine people of all political views, races, ethnicities and creeds, I serve this country in elective office – and proud to do so.

I ask every person of honor and faith in our constitutional republic to repudiate these acts in the strongest terms. We pledged our lives and our sacred honor to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States. We honor our institutions by respecting them. I am proud of our first responders, our Capitol police and all those that put themselves in harm's way to protect and serve the citizens of our great country. We may not always agree, that is a good thing, but we must always stand for what is right and good.  God bless America.

Rep. Mike Clampitt

The events that unfolded on the grounds of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. are very disturbing, unappreciated and uncalled for. What I am speaking of is the assault by those few individuals that do not represent the other persons (and others in the nation) that were there to attend a peaceful assembly, pray, and support the American Republic, the U.S. Constitution and President Trump. Any of those individuals that can be identified should be arrested and charged to the laws of the Capitol. I am supportive of ALL the amendments to the Bill of Rights. We are a nation of laws, and the right of grievances by peaceful assembly is the right of every American. But, whenever anyone that uses aggressive, assaultive behavior and using items of destruction has now crossed the line of “freedom of speech” and now has become an anarchist and a rioter. These individuals shall be held accountable for their actions.

Rep. Karl Gillespie

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of folks gathered in Washington, D.C. to peacefully protest, as is permitted by the First Amendment in the United States Constitution. History has shown that the right to peaceably assemble is one of the most effective ways to express our views. However, the protest descended into violence and chaos at the hands of rioters intent on destruction.

I want to be clear: the violence that took place at the U.S. Capital is absolutely unacceptable.  Violence and destruction of property can never be justified.  Those that are responsible for these despicable acts should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In these times of division, it is imperative that we respect the rule of law and support our law enforcement as they protect the foundations of our democracy.

While many are unsatisfied with the outcome of the election, we must accept the election decision and move forward. Our democratic republic provides that the government is elected by the citizens. There will be another election and the citizens will again have an opportunity to select who they want to run their government. In the meantime, we should all find ways to improve and protect the democratic process, thereby restoring citizens’ faith in the integrity of the system.

While no nation is perfect, I believe the United States of America continues to be the greatest county on the face of the earth. Conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, we are all Americans and we should strive, as Ronald Reagan so eloquently once stated, to be the shining city on the hill. 

Rep. Mark Pless

I guess I should start by addressing what I see as the causes of the events in Washington. On a much larger scale than even the election in 2016 I believe the American citizens became engaged in this election. The 2020 election was to a level I have not seen in my lifetime. Much like a rivalry sports event people who felt passionate about either the Republican candidates or the Democratic candidates poured all their emotions into this election.

It’s very difficult to know where you direct that much energy after the fight is over. I dare say if President Trump had won the election and the Republican Party had taken both houses there would have been a similar event unfold. Unfortunately our leaders on both sides fueled the events leading up to the violence. I think there are just as many poor winners as there are poor losers.

In today’s instant lifestyle we want everything our way right now. Following the news or social media will sometimes bring fears to the surface. Most people don’t even realize they had something buried deep inside until it’s out. We as a society will not listen to a report about something we are fearful of then allow time to cope. We search the internet or Facebook or television for people who feel the same way we do. We then feed off that until we are so panicked and fearful poor decisions are made.

I believe there were some people who went to Washington as a result of their fears surfacing. Those same people had full intentions of causing destruction. Others in that group just allowed themselves to get caught up in the moment and made poor choices. At the end of the day we are still a nation of laws and the peaceful assembly was the only part protected by the constitution. Those few people who were disrespectful to our leaders, law enforcement and our country must be held accountable.

 How do we keep this from repeating in two or four years is my concern. Starting in the White House and ending at the local level everything has got to be about the people of the United States of America. I am not going to agree with some decisions that are made and that is my right. I am going to make decisions that others will not agree with and that is their right.  The time to voice our disapproval comes in two or four years. I must respect the leaders America picked whether I like them or not.

I will forever feel this election was not conducted fairly in the United States however that doesn’t change the outcome. I feel we as residents of Western North Carolina should set an example for North Carolina and our nation to follow. The election is over. Time to focus on the needs of the people. We are in a serious and deadly time right now. The people are in danger of losing their jobs, homes, health and even lives. We need to focus on helping our neighbors. When the electricity gets cut off they don’t just pull the meter on people who voted Democrat. When the food is gone and you have no grocery money Ingles does not give free food to a Republican voter.

We are all in this fight to survive and can even thrive if we work together. Put politics aside and help your neighbors. Turn off the news, there is nothing you are going to hear today that will help you or your neighbors tomorrow.

For the newspapers, tv stations and 24 hour gossiping stations (Fox, CNN, MSNBC) stop fueling the American people. Start reporting on the neighbor who needs help because their house burnt, when the neighbors do go out and help report on how Americans take care of each other.

We learn how to stick together again or we die as a divided nation. We work together getting everyone on their feet again or we stay divided and die one at a time.

Haywood County Board of Commissioners

Did not respond: Commissioner Kirk Kirkpatrick

Chairman Kevin Ensley

First let me say that we must always condemn violence in the strongest possible terms and support our law enforcement officers as they work to keep us safe.

As I watched the coverage last night, there was a dichotomy in the description of what was transpiring on TV. Suddenly liberal announcers did not have pleasant terms to describe the "mob" and "rioters." They called them what they were.

Only a few months back the "mobs and rioters" were "peaceful protesters” even though small businesses were burned and looted. The media has much to be responsible for in the times in which we live. While I believe our local media is fairly balanced, the national media is not. The Hunter Biden story, biased coverage of President Trump and ignoring valid election irregularities have added to the mistrust of the mainstream media from conservative Americans.

As an elected official, this is the frustration I hear from many citizens.

I know I look at events thru a conservative worldview but I try to be open and tolerant of other viewpoints. It seems, however, we have a long way to go to be more unified in America today. The national media can help by giving all viewpoints equal coverage and descriptions. That is why our Constitution gives us the First Amendment. The media need to look back, study and understand the role the Founders envisioned them to be doing.

Another thought as we consider where we are locally on this type of activity. I spoke to the sheriff last summer when there was some BLM marches and opposing protests going on in the county. He seemed to be well prepared and had received training after the Charlottesville unrest. I am confident our law enforcement will be able to keep the peace in any local matters that may arise.

Since I sent my response on Thursday [Jan. 7], I would hope both national parties and their leaders would tone down some of the rhetoric. They should condemn any and all violence that may arise from any protests. I think we all agree there should be consistency from both sides on these issues.

Commissioner Jennifer Best

I believe that once the comments are compiled you will find a common thread, as Americans-we are better together!

The First Amendment outlines rights given by our Creator and protected by the Constitution including gathering for peaceful protest as well as the right to petition government for a redress of grievances.

Washington, D.C., a large city stage where protests play out on a regular basis, seemed ill-equipped for the events January 6. The “storming” of the Capitol building was heartbreaking, frightening and suggested news reels of uprisings in third-world counties. Wednesday’s events did not play out like a scene from America. Such criminal acts of violence and gross disrespect is not in keeping with the patriotic American spirit and the heinousness is compounded by the fact these crimes were committed by Americans. The ultimate cost of their actions was loss of life.

I am of the belief that two groups converged in D.C. on Jan. 6.  The first group, large in number and passionate about their convictions gathered to express their concerns for fair elections and voter transparency. A second group with ill intent and a plan for chaos created a diversion, desecrating our nation’s capital building and committing felonious acts of trespass and vandalism.

We should identify and prosecute those individuals who participated in such traitorous acts to the highest extent of the law. In an age when social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can readily identify faces from an uploaded photo, we should be able to identify those individuals recorded in countless cellphone videos and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, without exception or delay.

Individuals elected by the people and who take a vow to uphold the Constitution should do so at the highest degree and on every level of government, federal state and local.

Great division is being attempted in our country. It is my opinion that media, large and small, syndicated and social, participates in this division at a level never before seen. The days of 6:00 news reporting an event and trusting the viewer to interpret what they see and read without commentary or editorial opinion seem long gone. Rights protected by the First Amendment include freedom of speech. But has freedom of speech become biased viewpoint? Case-in-point, during this most recent event-a group of people participating in similar acts of vandalism, one referred to as a ‘mob’ another as ‘peaceful protestors’ conjuring very different images. 

I choose to believe that we are still the America founded on religious freedoms, rights from our Creator and love for our fellow man. It is my prayer that peace, health and prosperity continue to reign across our country.

Commissioner Tommy Long

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 will be a day in American history that will be remembered for years. As we move forward can we see clearly what caused it? Days removed, facts continue to be discovered. 

These waters are turbid, rapid and dangerous to our Republic. The divide is wide and growing. Free and fair elections are questioned. Free speech is under attack and censorship is upon us. 

I wonder what will happen ... what leader will step forward? Who can build a bridge and bring us together again? Top leaders in Washington speak peace out one side of their mouth and hate and division out the other side, sometimes in the same sentence. This double speak is bi-partisan in the highest circles of leadership. 

What happened in Washington was a culmination of much. It resulted from divisive leadership on both sides of the river over the last years and biased 24-hour news outlets who have been eager to cast shade or shine a light on their respective political pick. These for-profit TV news groups do not love America. They love money and the high ratings they need to survive. They stir the pot of division and feed egotistical narcissistic politicians. This inflames both sides of the river. 

Americans can flip the channel until they find a news outlet who feeds what they like. 

Thankfully unbiased news reporting still resides on the local level. Many times they are the only ones who get it right. The people can form their own conclusions. 

Oh for the days of Walter Cronkite and Harry Reasoner. But we can’t go back. The big tech, electronic age reigns and now seemingly with an iron fist.

Where do we in WNC go from here? I hope we continue to be isolated from the extremists who want to divide and destroy us. We should guard against these extreme groups. Some of these want to use this event to destroy the constitution itself. 

I hope we are not influenced by extreme positions that are detrimental to our nation. Law and order were being begged for Wednesday by people who were chastising it back in the summer. I support law and order like most law-abiding people in WNC. It is a bi-partisan necessity. Taxation without police protection is a dangerous position.

Justice is being demanded today by people who turned a deaf ear to riots, looting and city burning back in the summer. Many encouraged it openly.

I support justice. It is a bi-partisan necessity and a foundational element of our republic. Law-abiding people in WNC do too. People involved in riotous, illegal activity should be punished accordingly. 

Elected lawmakers in DC who said the riots, looting and a sovereign state in Seattle was an invented myth didn’t say that Wednesday about events at their front door.

As I respond there is much talk in Congress about impeaching the current President for his role in inciting this. I have heard no one agree with the illegal activity that occurred. This with only 10 days left in his term. The bridge burners are real, loud and angry but where are the bridge builders? Will one emerge that has credibility and integrity to do so? 

I don’t hear any of these same people talking about impeaching the Vice President-elect who not only encouraged the looters, rioters and arsonists to continue last summer but raised millions to bail them out of jail. 

America needs credible leaders, credible news outlets who can see clearly through the turbid waters. Have a resolve to build bridges instead of burning them. It will take time. Will these emerge? I wish JFK and Ronald Reagan could respond to this. I believe both would have needed words for America today. 

My hope is that WNC will continue to follow the paths that have made our country the greatest nation on earth. Our faith and trust in almighty God, our love of liberty and justice for all have made us who we are. We stand on these beliefs. We have more in common than that which divides us. 

We will remain a great nation only if we embrace these fundamental tenants to our society in a bi-partisan way. If the scales tip away from these foundational tenants we will fall as a nation. 

May God comfort and be with the families who lost loved ones over these events. I pray for them, our country and our elected leaders in Washington. 

May God bless America and Western North Carolina. 

Commissioner Brandon Rogers

I have always been a big supporter of our law enforcement and always will be. I was raised to respect authority, my elders, and to love your neighbor.

Unfortunately, we as a nation have slowly diverted from the truth and lost all respect for others. There is a mistrust in most of our government and most of the media is biased when they report on such.

Just a short time ago there were reports of what the media was calling "peaceful protests" with innocent business owners’ buildings being burned and robbed in the background. As a business owner myself this was very upsetting.

There are a lot of discrepancies and questions that need to be answered concerning the election but, once again, most of the media are very biased and one sided in their reporting.

I in no way condone the behavior that took place in Washington which resulted in lives being lost but do understand the frustration of many of those that attended. Our nation is more divided than ever and our morals have been tossed out the window.

I am reminded of what the Bible says in 2 Chronicles 7:14- If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.

Our trust needs to be placed in Christ!

Town of Clyde

Did not respond: Alderman John Hemmingway, Alderman Dann Jesse, Alderman Frank Lay

Mayor Jim Trantham

This has been a bad time for our country and I am praying that our country can heal!

Alderman Diane Fore

I am saddened by the events that took place in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. I do not feel that these events were caused by one single happening based on one single event but more a combination of many, many reasons and issues. Where I hope we go as a Nation is forward towards an atmosphere of respecting the views of those that differ from our own and the ability to handle our differences without the use of threats or violence be it physical or verbal. I would like to see our Nation return to a unified Nation where our government officials work to serve for the "good of all" our citizens. As we move forward, hopefully the path before us offers all of us ... a time to heal.

Town of Canton

Mayor Zeb Smathers

We will all remember where we were when we watched one of our nation’s greatest symbols vandalized and our American way of life attacked on Jan. 6, 2021.  Not since Sept. 11, 2001 has our country witnessed such a surreal, pre-meditated, and specific homeland assault on our freedoms: the freedom to choose our representatives, to disagree without violence, and to transfer power peacefully.

Jan. 6 will never be forgotten: the breach of the Capitol, the evacuation of the Congress, and the assault on law enforcement that caused the death of a Capitol Hill police officer. Those who took part in the violence and the vandalism of that day should be prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law. Those who incited and encouraged the tyranny of that mob should also be held accountable. We are a nation of laws and those laws depend on officials who are true to their oaths to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

These events and the reckless actions of some of our leaders serve to be a devastating reminder of the importance of moral character in leadership. Those of us who have the privilege to serve in elected office have a responsibility to appeal, as Lincoln did, to the better angels of our nature, not the demons of division. Our founding documents, the sacrifices of our military, and the pledge we take to our flag demands it. 

It is time we expected more. In WNC, we respect the ones who tell the hard truths, find common sense solutions and bring people together over issues of substance.  We do not celebrate ones who engage in non-factual nonsense, political posturing, and superficial sideshows. We face serious challenges. Thousands are out of work. The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic rage. Communities are hurting and people are desperate for bold and creative leaders who live up to the state's motto "To be, rather than to seem." We need leaders with the maturity and backbone to fight for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, not lie to us, incite violence, and undermine the very essence of our democracy.

I have the honor of serving with local leaders, both elected and not, from our mountain communities who do just that.  Some are Democrats, some are Republicans. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we do not. I have never questioned their loyalty to our country or their desire to help their constituents ... whether constituents voted for them or not.  However, a line was drawn on Jan. 6 for all of us to now choose between country or an allegiance to division, misinformation, and violence. The moment our country finds itself is not in the success of political parties, platforms, or policies, but in the resolve of our American conscience.  We are all making the choice of what we want the soul of the Nation to be.

For too long we have let people with dangerous ideas and goals masquerade without consequence under the mask of politics and is time we took a stand.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with political disagreement. In fact, our entire American system was constructed to encourage debate, protect minority opinions and to check the balance of power. I have voted for men and women from both parties, I do not agree with every policy of my political affiliation, and at times, I have failed to live up to my potential. All of these actions are acceptable in American life. What is not acceptable is when politics ceases to be less of reasonable debate and more of religious devotion.  In my opinion, you cannot be respected or taken seriously in the political arena when your ideas and goals promote and harbor views of racism, violence and prejudice towards any person, political party, or group. In doing so you are not acting as a participant in the American form of government, but a rogue agent attacking the very ideals of a more perfect union.

I believe in giving people chances. I especially believe in honoring elections and giving folks a fair shot. That is the attitude that I had when our new Congressman, Madison Cawthorn, took to the capital. I truly hoped he would live up to his promise to work on behalf of all WNC residents and work across the aisle to improve the lives of our people. After all, representing this region in Congress is an incredible honor that should be taken seriously.

Unfortunately, it seems our new representative is more comfortable dealing in division and falsities rather than uniting and truths. Representative Cawthorn rallied supporters to come to Washington saying the very "fate of the nation” rested on their shoulders, telling them they needed to come show backbones made of steel and fight. He reveled when he spoke to the crowd that stormed the Capitol, when he observed they had “fight in them.”  He can try to pass the buck all he wants but we heard his words, we saw his actions. Leaders lead, leaders unite, leaders understand the power of their words, leaders take responsibility. I am asking Representative Cawthorn to do better. 

The destruction of Jan. 6 has given us an opportunity. To do so each of us, elected or not, must now decide where to stand.  Do we stand on the side of freedom or fascism? Do we stand on the side of American values or violence? Do we stand on the side of independent facts or do we listen lazily to ones who tell us what truth is? Do we stand with the ones who want to unite us in common purpose or with the ones who demand strict allegiance to selfish power?  The problems we face do not originate from a single political party, but a failing of moral character and to honor our American creed.  We can, and must, do better.  If we as Democrats and Republicans seize the moment together and take a stand for right, we will write the next great chapter of our American story.

Alderman Ralph Hamlett

Many of us across the nation have asked of the January 6th events, How did this happen?” Suggested in the question is a sense of shock that it did happen!  That sense of the seemingly endless moment of a few hours had its causal genesis in not one singular event of election certification but from an endless four-year barrage of desensitization.  This did not happen.  It has been happening.  We acquiesced.  What we witnessed on January 6th is born out of our complacency.

As participants of this great democratizing experiment, we have a responsibility to refresh the American hope and promise.    As citizens, we must engage in the body politic as a serious endeavor not one of passive entertainment.  We cannot be seduced by outlandish behaviors  (which we witnessed in the not-so-well concealed criminality on January 6th).  There is no justification for discovering excuses and providing apologizes for them.  We must hold elected officials firm to the oaths they take with penalty and potential removal for violations of the public trust.

As elected officials, we must remember that it is that public trust for which we serve and not self-aggrandizement.  We must remember that personal differences are just that—personal and must not detract from public discourse which should be reserved for policy debate whose end is the public good.   Overall, we must remember to whom we are responsible, the citizen, and that our voice must speak for all so that hopefully we can all listen to our better angels.  And if we cannot do this, we must be willing to leave office and allow another who will to serve.

Together, we must participate—this is not a spectator sport.  We as elected officials and as citizens must engage with one another for the benefit of the later and society not for the gain of one or the politician.

Alderwoman Gail Mull

The events at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. this past Wednesday, Jan. 6 highlight what we have been taught since childhood – "words have consequences.”  Once said, they cannot be unsaid. Compare it to toothpaste - once it is out of the tube, it cannot be put back.  The rioters were there because they had been told a lie – that the election had been stolen through massive voter fraud. This lie has been disproven dozens of times in the weeks since the November election. Judges and courts (all the way to the Supreme Court) have ruled that there is no evidence of fraud.

We must now cling to another adage – "the truth will set us free." Now, if we can just get the citizens of this country to recognize the truth and move on to the pressing issues that face us –  the economy, a pandemic that is out of control and a country that is as divided as we were in 1860. 

Alderman Tim Shepard

“In a thriving democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”

 – Daniel Patrick Moynihan. 

Jan. 7, 2021 was a sad and terrible day in the history of the United States.  Never before have we had American citizens storm the capital and try to seize power. That those people were encouraged and incited by the president is even sadder. The fact that the president refused to concede that he lost the election even after all of the evidence pointed to that fact, but proceeded to push false narratives and conspiracy theories are criminal. 

Mitch McConnell said it very well on the floor of the Senate as the mob stormed the capital building. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again.” 

If we are to ever come back together as a nation, we need to find middle ground and work together to compromise so that our country becomes stronger and more unified. Above all else we need to become a country where everyone is truly treated equally. The people on the left and people on the right are both still Americans, we have more in common than we have differences, we need to remember that. A republic/democracy is a form of government that requires hard work to maintain and precious little effort to destroy. Words matter, especially from those in positions of power.

Alderwoman Kristina Smith

What transpired? A group of people who were encouraged by our sitting president to storm the capital, and they did without pause. We had Americans, breaking windows and doors, pushing past barricades, endangering law enforcement, elected officials, and staffers based on lies. It is traumatic and not surprising.

This is America. You can say “That's not my America,” then I say you are living in a delusion.

What happened at the capital is America. 

I send my child to school where he has lockdown drills. Where instead of science books, the educators have 'stop the bleeding' kits. I have a child that hides, quietly, in a locked classroom where lights go off, where he was quieted with a sucker when he was a little one. This is a practice drill in case there is someone that comes in with a gun that is shooting children. All because we have a society that elevates the use of automatic weapons over the safety of our kids.

School shootings, racist riots, white supremacist groups being elevated to the highest offices from local elections, school boards, leadership in states and the presidency.  It's finally reached the capital.

Where we are as a nation is at the place where we are seeing who we thought we were, and who we really are come into the light. The truth is that if people of color, LGBTQ+, or another marginalized group took that action, there would have been more deaths and law enforcement present. We think we are county fairs, church on Sundays, mall shopping, and small business Americans.

That American experience is the privileged one and exists in parallel with the one filled with racism and fascism. Just because one person lives on the side you don't experience, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Where do we go from here?

As a town, we are a reflection of what people are supposed to think of when they think of 'small-town America'. Small businesses, blue-collar workers and families living close together. We need to look inward and outward to understand who we have become. Are we a community that is safe? Have we looked inward at the systems in place and broken them or been bold enough to push outside our comfort zone to ensure we are being better than what transpired in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6?

The answers will be uncomfortable and necessary.

That's where we go, into the uncomfortable conversations and actions. The land where politicians and citizens alike don’t often like to tread. It's hard and filled with fear. But there is light, hope, and love there.

There is hope – in justice.

There is love – in funding the underfunded ... It's not going against bootstrapping principles if a boot has always been on your neck and the government invests in you and your community.

There is light at the end of this. Right now, we need to see the gross, fascist smoke and lies that bring up these events and make it hard to breathe. We need to see the impact of white supremacy, lies and speak truth to power. That is where the light lives. People don't like it, it's uncomfortable. That's the only way we grow. That's how we move forward.

But we aren't ready yet. We have to invest in hope – that there is justice. Focus on love, and love isn't all patience and roses. My friends, love is anger too. It's the pain in your heart that gets you up to a call to action for your community. Love looks like embracing how blind you have been this whole time and it's also the strength you need to speak truth to power.

Town of Maggie Valley

Did not respond: Mayor Mike Eveland, Alderman Clayton Davis, Alderman Phillip Wight, Alderman Tammy Wight

Alderman Twinkle Patel

I am very disappointed in the actions at the Capitol this week. We are not a country of violence and this cannot be tolerated. I only support peaceful protests and not acts of thuggery and destruction. Two Capitol police officers lost their lives and my heart and prayers goes out to their families. Representative Madison Cawthorn said it best, "We are all Americans. What unites us is greater than what divides us.

Town of Waynesville

Did not respond: Mayor Gary Caldwell

Alderman Chuck Dickson

The President, Senators and Congressional Representatives who incited this violent attack should resign or be removed. The insurrectionists who caused death and destruction in our Capitol should be arrested and prosecuted. There should be no tolerance for hate, lies and white supremacy. I hope that our nation can begin to heal from this shameful attempt to subvert democracy.

Alderman Jon Feichter

Like most Americans, I watched with horror as the events unfolded in Washington, D.C. on the 6th of January. Seeing a riotous mob descend on the Capitol, brawl with police, and force its way into the building and onto the floor of the Senate was sickening. As I followed the news coverage, I had some of the same kinds of feelings as when I watched the World Trade Center towers crash down on September 11, 2001. Then, as now, I had trouble wrapping my head around what I was seeing. How could this be happening in our country, and why?

To me, the reason why was obvious: members and "leaders" of one party refused to accept the results of an election simply because their candidate lost. As a result, they and President Trump have spent the last 65 days claiming the election was rigged and stolen from them in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Autonomous boards of elections from all 50 states certified their electoral votes – in some cases after conducting thorough audits and hand recounts of the tabulated votes – and in more than 60 separate court cases, from District Courts all the way to the Supreme Court, the results were unequivocal: this was a free and fair election and Joe Biden won it. This drumbeat of conspiracy, banged by the President and his allies, including some of the nation's most powerful Republicans, set us on a course that culminated in an attack that tragically left at least 5 people dead, including a police officer.

But make no mistake, what happened on January 6th wasn’t just the result of what has transpired since Election Day. The seeds that bore the fruit of this poisonous tree were planted long ago. I believe the reason there was a riot is that somewhere along the way we started seeing people we disagree with as the enemy. It shouldn't be that way. It doesn't have to be that way. At his second inauguration on March 4, 1865, as the end of the Civil War neared, one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln said:

"With malice towards none, with charity for all…let us…do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

How we move on from this is very much an open question, but if Lincoln saw a way for the country to unify after the bloodiest four years in our nation’s history, surely we can find one too. Before we can fully move on, however, we must hold those that desecrated the seat of our democracy – and the people that encouraged them – to account for their actions. The people that committed these crimes must answer for them. Only then can we begin the hard work of healing, of coming once again to see disagreements not as declarations of war, but as differences of opinion that can be resolved by talking to one another.

In May of 1961, a little less than 100 years after Lincoln spoke those words, another president, John F. Kennedy, challenged the country to put a man on the moon in less than 10 years’ time. That we watched Neal Armstrong take his giant leap for mankind eight years later is a testament to what we can accomplish as a nation if we work together. I wonder what would’ve happened if things back then were the same as they are today. Would we have been able to rise to the occasion like our forebearers did? Or would we still be wondering if the moon was made of green cheese? More likely we’d still know it’s just rocks and dust, but some other nation’s flag would be planted on surface instead of ours.

We all know we have monumental challenges in front of us. From climate change, to healthcare, to racial justice, to raising wages for the working men and women of this country, to recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a lot of work to do. That’s infinitely more difficult when we’re divided into camps of Democrats and Republicans, red states and blue states, and us versus them. We can only make real progress if we come together as one nation indivisible. The time to do so is now.

Alderman Julia Freeman

As an elected official I will say that I was shocked and completely disgusted by the violence, lawlessness and events that took place at our nation’s capital last Wednesday. The attack and unprecedented assault, invasion and insurrection on our Capitol Building is truly a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation. The siege on the halls of Congress and those who wreaked havoc on those very halls will be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. Our Democracy is wounded and in my opinion we now look weak because of the events of last week in the eyes of many of our allies and other nations around the world. As former President Bill Clinton said, "Today we faced an unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country. The assault was fueled by more than four years of poison politics spreading deliberate misinformation, sowing distrust in our system, and pitting Americans against one another." 

Alderman Anthony Sutton

What happened on Jan. 6th left me in shock. The un-American action taken was an assault on our democracy and cannot be tolerated. Every person should be held accountable for their actions. The insurgency was strengthened by the lies that were perpetrated in the echo chambers of far-right groups who are only interested in the pursuit of power or personal interest.  

Society must come together and reject the lies that sow the seeds of anarchy. We must be optimistic and forward-looking. We will remain resilient and continue to do the hard work of repairing the divisions in our country. 

Party officials

Myrna Campbell, chair, Haywood County Democratic Party

In his post-election remarks, President-elect Joe Biden called for healing and I agreed with him then, but not now. Now is a time for accountability - healing will come later. What we saw in DC on January 6 was not just rioting - it was terrorism fueled by people who falsely believed wild election conspiracy theories and that a cabal of cannibal pedophiles control Washington and Hollywood.

I'm calling on the Haywood County GOP leadership to acknowledge the activities in DC as terrorist acts and denounce Donald Trump and Madison Cawthorn for their actions.

You can't continue to condemn the rioting that occurred in Seattle, Portland and Asheville in Fall 2020 and justify what happened in DC.

Kay Miller, chair, Haywood County Republican Party

My heart breaks for the lives lost last Wednesday. A peaceful march of thousands of patriots turned ugly when it was infiltrated by those who did not have peace in their hearts.

Reports from those I know who were on the ground said some people were even singing patriotic songs and chanting “U-S-A” while waiting on an address from our President, Donald J. Trump.

Then something went terribly wrong.

What caused the violence that took place?  As with any wrongdoing, the short answer – and the truth – is that evil in the heart of mankind caused the violence. Jesus is the only “fix” for any of the problems in this country, this state or in Haywood County.

The long answer needs more time to play out.

To be sure, those who participated in the destruction and violence at the Capitol should be arrested and punished to the fullest extent of the law. And, the lawless ones who ran rampant for weeks on end in 2020: looting, burning, tearing down statues, occupying cities, destroying livelihoods, and killing people – like the thug who murdered my cousin’s only child – each should have been arrested and punished to the fullest extent of the law. I’m sure all reasonable people can agree on that.

Where do we, as a nation and as residents of Western North Carolina, go from here? The answer is never going to be found by censoring the voices with which you disagree. Hate is the motivation for that move – “I hate what you are saying and I’m going to make you stop!” – and that’s what is happening now. Free speech is under attack even more in the aftermath of the tragic events of Jan. 6. We have to fight back.

In World War II, my father fought on foreign soil to preserve our liberty and freedom at home. Now the fight is on American soil to preserve liberty and freedom.

The ruling class mindset in Washington, D.C. has to be eradicated. The grassroots “We the People” movement must take even more action in North Carolina and in the U.S. and, if you are a conservative patriot who stands for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, the Haywood County Republican Party has a place for you. Together we can make a difference. Mid-term elections are right around the corner.

Still, people are very frustrated and angry. The Haywood County Republican Party can help direct that negative energy in a myriad of ways. From community service projects and civic education to precinct leadership and running for office, “We the People” can keep our republic!

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