The first political blood of 2013 was spilled Thursday night at the year's first meeting of the Newton County Board of Commissioners.
Denny Dobbs, a longtime member of the Joint Development Authority, was replaced on that board by Mort Ewing, who served for 12 years as District 1 commissioner and also spent much of that time on the JDA as well.
Ewing had to roll off because he was the elected official representative, but then he rolled right back on Thursday as the citizen representative (the county gets one elected official and one citizen representative to sit on the four-county authority that oversees Stanton Springs industrial park).
Dobbs, who has been on the board since its creation in the late '90s, and his supporters are claiming foul.
We aren't ready to agree with their complaints. Elected officials certainly have the right to appoint who they want to local commissions; we just hope the decision that was made to do so was based on what is best for the county rather than political gamesmanship. We hope the lack of continuity and loss of institutional knowledge is not too high of a price to pay for politicking.
It has been said that Dobbs was a valuable member because of his connections with the governor, understanding of environmental issues and other political attributes. But Ewing also has strong ties to Gov. Deal - through relationships developed in childhood when they spent time together while the governor, as a youth, spent several summers in Newton County.
Until it is proven otherwise, we are going to accept that new commission board chairman Keith Ellis, who also appointed himself to the JDA board, has the best interests of our county at heart.
We hope that Ewing's desire to continue to serve on the JDA is for all the right reasons. People sometimes make the mistake of hanging on to positions for their own personal gratification and out of a reluctance to relinquish power. We trust these motivations were not a factor in the decision making process.
Change can bring a fresh perspective and a renewed energy that can become contagious. We remain hopeful this is the case for the 2013 board of commissioners.