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Progressives pan County Commission's ‘recognition’ of Robinson

Robinson Robinson

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, appearing at a meeting of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners last week, touted the state’s $3 billion budget surplus as a chance to spur jobs and economic development.

“There’s so much opportunity up here,” he said afterwards in an interview. “There’s opportunity in agriculture, there’s opportunity in industry, there’s opportunity in technology, and there’s opportunity in tourism. What our job needs to be as elected officials is to come up to this area — don’t do it back from Raleigh — and talk to the people here and ask them what they need in order to make sure that we are not supplanting the businesses that are already here but bringing in industry that’s going to be able to be to coexist with those places to help these areas grow.

“There’s a delicate balance here,” he added. “People love to come here for the scenery. People love to come here for the nature. We don’t want to totally destroy it. We want to make sure that we’re bringing in industries they’ll be able to coexist with our natural resources, and the businesses and agriculture and things that are already here.”


‘I’ve got mixed feelings’ about Ecusta Trail

On one intensely local subject, the Ecusta Trail, Robinson expressed misgivings.

“I’ve got mixed feelings about that because I really feel like if we’re going to try to grow some industry in this part, we’re going to need some rail service,” he said, adding, “I think there’s a way we can figure out how both things can coexist.”

The frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for governor in March, Robinson spent Aug. 7 in Henderson and Buncombe counties, hearing from farmers, visiting supporters and attending a fundraiser at Taylor Ranch in Fletcher.

“Bub Hyder — he’s a great supporter of mine, we love him,” Robinson said of the large landowner, apple grower and developer from Edneyville. “We see eye-to-eye on a number of things and he’s a big supporter of mine.”


Stein ‘is too far left’

Asked whether he’s too far right to win a general election in North Carolina, Robinson pivoted to the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, the state’s attorney general.

“My response to that is absolutely not. Who is too far is Josh Stein,” he said. “Josh Stein is too far to the left.”

He also appeared to be recasting his more conservative positions as “opinions” that would not necessarily drive policy if he were to be elected governor.

“The ideas that I espouse, my personal opinions — people may think those are too far to the right,” he said. “But what I’ve been trying to impress upon people and what I’ve been doing as lieutenant governor is showing people I don’t govern by my opinions. We govern by consensus, and I’m ready to partner with anyone who is willing to do the good work to take the state to the next level.

“It doesn’t matter to me if me and you disagree maybe about the issue of life or we disagree about some social issue,” he added. “If we see eye to eye on how we can raise the stature and status of people here in Western North Carolina or Eastern North Carolina — if those folks come to me with a great plan, full of purpose and full of principle, that I know those plans are going to work, I’ll partner with those people in a heartbeat to make sure we get that work done.

“I’m convinced we have far more in common than we have in differences. We’re allowing about five issues to keep us separated. We can’t do that as North Carolinians.”


Don’t honor ‘cancerous hate-filled resume’

Robinson’s appearance at the top of the meeting last Monday night, billed on the agenda as a “recognition,” was not universally applauded.

Three speakers during the board’s public comment period questioned commissioners’ decision to grant him the floor, saying his “cancerous hate-filled resume” is unworthy of the honor.

 “When I saw that he was going to be here, I didn’t have any idea what he was going to be recognized for,” Peter Zimring said. “I couldn't imagine what that would be. I asked my wife if I had missed something. Had he saved some children have a burning house? That would deserve recognition. I don't think he has earned recognition from this group or from us.”

Joe Elliott said the community should condemn Robinson’s positions on LGBTQ rights, climate change and public schools, not give them light.

“He vigorously denies the effects of climate change, a denial that blindly ignores science,” he said. “His stance is particularly tone deaf given the unprecedented heat waves and forest fires with the accompanying poisoned air that have been with us this entire summer. He constantly spews vile, antisemitic garbage that amplifies the constant lies of the far right propaganda machine. He refers to black people as muddle-headed negros, apes and monkeys. … How can we suggest that the people Henderson County should recognize this man? His cancerous hate-filled resume does not align in any way with the good people of Henderson County.”

In response to speakers’ assertions that the Board of Commissioners should not have invited Robinson and their comments expressing doubt that the all-Republican board would ever invite Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, or Josh Stein, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, to speak, board chair Rebecca McCall pushed back.

“The lieutenant governor was not asked to come,” she said. “He asked to be allowed to speak while he was in the area. Also, this board met with Josh Stein a couple of months ago for over an hour talking about things that he had an interest in. And as far as I know, the governor has never requested to come.”