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Editorial: Fields should resign as Wilson County commissioner

Staff Reports • Updated Aug 11, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.” It’s apparent Wilson County Commissioner-elect Robert Fields should take those words to heart and resign his seat on the commission or refuse to take the oath of office.

It’s difficult to believe Fields would “perform with fidelity the duties of the office” to which he was elected, and which he is about to assume, as is recited in the oath of office. Fidelity is defined as “faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support.” 

A closer look at Fields’ actions in the past two weeks demonstrates a clear mistrust of him among many Wilson County residents, and Fields’ lack of both explanation and apology for those actions raise significant question as to whether he can represent all the residents of District 1 and Wilson County, for that matter, regardless of race, ethnicity or political beliefs. 

It was determined following last Thursday’s Wilson County General Election that Fields tied with his opponent, Tim Roehler, for commissioner in District 1 with two provisional ballots left to count. The following day, Fields took to Facebook to question Roehler as to why he “kept quiet” about Roehler’s wife being African American and their children who are “interracial.” He also questioned why Roehler hid the fact that he was a Democrat. 

On Sunday afternoon, Fields said he would “concede the race to Mr. Roehler [on Monday] and will fully support him.” 

Later Sunday evening, Fields told The Democrat he changed his mind and was going to wait for the provisional ballots to be counted, which took place Wednesday. 

“I have changed my mind,” he said in a voicemail. “I am not going to concede on Monday. I will wait and see what the provisional ballots say on Wednesday.”

On Sunday, Fields emphatically said, “I am not a racist. I was simply answering a question [that the race would be determined by two provisional votes].

“In retrospect, I can see that the comment can be considered racist, but I am not a racist.”

On Wednesday morning, Fields was declared the winner by one vote. Fields sent a text message to The Tennessean on Wednesday that said, “I have been informed of the results, and I look forward to serving the citizens of District 1.”

Fields has since been unavailable for comment despite multiple attempts. 

What’s absent from the conversation is, at the least, an apology to Roehler and his family. They deserve that, and Wilson County residents deserve for Fields to renounce his seat on the commission. 

The rest of that commissioner’s oath of office is recited, “I do solemnly swear to support the constitutions of Tennessee and the United States and to faithfully perform the duties of the office of county commissioner...”

There’s a section in the Tennessee Constitution that says, “That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.” The first three words of the U.S. Constitution are, “We the people…” 

At least in the court of popular opinion, there are questions as to whether Fields can be inclusive to the representation of all who live in his district. Oath is defined as “a solemn promise, often invoking a divine witness, regarding one’s future action or behavior.” It leaves a lot of doubt as to whether Fields can or should make such a significant promise regarding future actions when he’s failed to adequately face the mistakes he’s made in his recent past. 

 

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