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LETTERS/ “What box are you in?”

By Tim Gupton, Blowing Rock

I ask as it seems that a group of residents believe that if you are not a “Full-Time Resident” then you are not really a resident of Blowing Rock.  Some even label residents “entitled”. 

Let me explain my “Box” – We have owned a home since 1999, built a new home and relocated to Blowing Rock in 2018, served on the boards of Blue Ridge Conservancy, Mayview Home Owners Association, Village Foundation and Tourism Development Authority and Chamber committees for Economic Development and Underground Utilities Task Force.  Also, I served as the past president and current board member of Blowing Rock Civic Association (BRCA).  My goal is to build relationships and understand the issues facing our special town.  I have spent literally hundreds of hours learning all aspects of town government, especially the budget and land use code. 

In the opinion of some, however, I am not considered a “Full-Time and Real Resident” because we spend the winter months in Florida where I started by career.  Of course, I am a full-time taxpayer along with all homeowners who pay 85% of the property taxes and a large portion of other taxes like sales taxes. Some of our individual neighborhoods have a larger tax base than downtown, but funding has prioritized the needs of downtown and tourism for the last 20 years to assure that we have a viable downtown all year.  Now that we are at capacity, we should expect the Town to shift their focus on the infrastructure needs for our residential neighborhoods including roads, drainage, water quality, sidewalks, and water and sewer access and upgrades. 

I vote here, but apparently since I am on the board of Blowing Rock Civic Association, some consider me “newcomer” trying to take over.  I assure you that my goal and the goal of the organization is to ensure that homeowners are informed and have a voice in decisions that affect everyone, even if the homeowner does not vote in Blowing Rock since they are the backbone of our property tax base.  

The recent letters to the editor and voters are uncivil and divisive in my opinion.  I share Mayor Seller’s commitment to One Blowing Rock and worked with him to convene a meeting of the key business and homeowner organizations in Blowing Rock to build relationships and cooperation after the unfortunate behavior of individuals on each side of the underground utilities debate, a debate that should have been conducted with civility, respect and facts.

The letters are actually political attacks on individuals and BRCA by a group who support a specific candidate.  The authors of those letters are also attacking me personally since I served as the past president of the BRCA and currently on the board of trustees.  I challenge you to look at the list of trustees and ask yourself if you think these well-intentioned members are the type of people with devious intentions.  

I know firsthand that BRCA is dedicated to giving all homeowners and full-time taxpayers a voice in determining the future of Blowing Rock. Only 1/3 of residential taxpayers actually vote in Blowing Rock which is typical for desirable resort towns that have a dual economy based on homeownership and tourism.    BRCA complies with the rules that allow lobbying which the authors don’t seem to understand. So, whether you believe that BRCA is presenting facts or lobbying, BRCA complies with the IRS rules.  This 501C3 challenge is a repetitive narrative asserted by a small group over the years who apparently resent advocacy for all homeowners. Their assertions are not true.  BRCA has ALWAYS respected the line in the sand that prohibits endorsement of candidates.  I learned when preparing communications as president that the facts often speak for themselves and are perceived as lobbying for a position. In the future, I have encouraged BRCA to take a position and lobby for key decisions materially affecting the future of our town. 

Individuals do and should work to support candidates of their choice.  Asserting otherwise means that anyone serving on a community board should not work for candidates.  Such a view is un-American. 

Hunt Broyhill has been the primary target of the attacks because of his prior board service on BRCA and campaign support from some BRCA board members.  I have gotten to know Hunt Broyhill since he became a full-time resident.  Hunt appropriately resigned from the BRAC board when he decided to run.  To say otherwise is untrue.   He is an honorable and honest man with significant business experience. Hunt has taken the high road during all of the mud-slinging and that alone says a lot for his character.   Serving on any community board like the Chamber or BRCA should not disqualify a resident from running for public office. 

I was pleased that we have four qualified candidates running for Town Council. They were all well-prepared and expressed their views clearly.  Anyone who attacks any of these candidates is personally engaging in divisive politics, something that we should eschew.  I hope the residents of Blowing Rock don’t buy the misinformation and instead make their own informed decisions to vote for a candidate absent any discrimination caused by misinformation and political agendas. 

We should be better than this…….

Tim Gupton