Letter – Any way you  cut it, a sham

Published 8:14 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

At the Dec. 19 Smithfield Town Council meeting, I stated that the process used to select the two members was not a sham but could be more transparent. However, as the meeting proceeded, I realized I was wrong; the process was a sham. 

Councilman Randy Pack told everyone it was a sham when he said: “Certainly we could have done this in open session; there is nothing that would have precluded that. We do not feel it is fair to the interviewees to sit in front of a community to be interviewed. I didn’t feel we would get as honest an answer from that.” 

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It was a sham when they selected the two candidates multiple people told me would be selected weeks ago. 

It was a sham when Pack talked about how hard the decision was between Jim Collins and Bill Harris but never said a word about why Raynard Gibbs was selected despite having one of the most uninspiring applications submitted and stating he could only provide 2-4 hours per week to dedicate toward being on Town Council. 

It was a sham when Mr. Gibbs, obviously the first choice since he was not compared to Mr. Harris, was selected to replace Renee Rountree instead of Wayne Hall, despite Mr. Hall’s former seat being the immediate vacancy; Valerie Butler did this because she doesn’t want to be on the same election cycle as Mr. Gibbs.  

It was a sham when Pack recommended Bill Harris for a Planning Commission vacancy, claiming it wasn’t a consolation prize when everyone in the room knew it was a fabricated participation trophy designed to undercut accusations of this being a sham from the same people who have opposed the council’s behavior related to the Grange approval process.

Constituents aren’t dumb, but they are busy. I hope people take 25 minutes to watch the video from the Dec. 19 meeting. Watch your elected officials explain that the people they appointed to represent you might not answer questions in public honestly or how it is divisive to call this sham what it is.  

Mr. Pack and Ms. Butler didn’t want to be honest about how and why they selected these appointees. The majority had the votes to elect whoever they wanted in an open process, but they did it behind closed doors because they thought you were dumb, or at least too busy to pay attention.


Lewis Edmonds