Why I said ‘no’ to unit system

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As a commissioner of Covington County, I feel compelled to respond to the voters and citizens of this county as to why I voted “no” to the unit system.

First, let me respond to a couple of articles that were in our local paper recently. The days of the “good ole boys” have been over a long while in District 4. We operate with a very high level of integrity and strive to help all that we can with fairness.

The past four years, I have dealt with a budget that has been reduced each year greatly since I’ve held office. Oh, and you don’t have to shake my hand when you see me on the street. The last time I checked, we were still a free democracy and could vote as we wish.

I am still, nonetheless, a proud elected official of Covington County. Thanks to the people of this county, I’ll allowed to vote in the interest of all the people and not just a select few. I want to see the county go forward and come out of the situation that we are in.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard, along with my men, to budget and cut costs wherever possible in District 4 while trying to maintain our services to our citizens in the county. My records at the county office show fact to this statement.

I voted “no” because we know nothing about what we are about to undertake as a commission. We are the blind leading the blind. I’ve not sat down and talked with people who could give us advice and suggestions on how to prepare and plan for the change. Let me say that even those who voted for the change have no plan of action to bring the table, that I’ve seen. All they have is a comparison to a county that does not maintain close to the amount of dirt roads that we do in Covington County.

Fact: We maintain, in District 4 alone, the same amount of dirt roads as Elmore County does in the entire county. We are going to just jump up and change and none of us know the “plan of action.”

I think we are going about it the wrong way. After talking with Mr. Sonny Brasfield, the assistant executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama — who, by the way is very pro-unit system — he stated to me that we need to implement the unit system in the right way and be very informed of how to handle this new endeavor. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

He stated that the first year, or possibly two years, were going to be very strenuous. A lot of change is going to take place and we all must be prepared. Some of my worst days as a pastor of churches were when change was implemented. It causes emotional stress, physical stress and sometimes even division among the people.

But, change is important and we need to plan, implement, set order, make rules, and listen to feedback from those who are going to be affected the most — the employees and citizens of this great county. I do not want us to fail and then crash and burn, because this is one of the most important changes that the Covington County Commission is going to make for a long time.

I’ve had citizens tell me that will accept it, and I’ve also had citizens tell me they did not like it and will not accept it. I’m praying that we cover all our bases before we move on this completely.

May God help us and guide us and may God continue to bless Covington County.

Carl Turman is the District 4 Covington County Commissioner.