Politics rears its ugly head

Floyd County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Lauren Yoder
Floyd County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Lauren Yoder

The ugly face of politics, and too many faces of political activity are hideous, surfaced over this week when the vice chairman of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors posted a glowing endorsement to one of three candidates in a contested primary for Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Locust Grove Supervisor Lauren Yoder hit Facebook with strong recommendations for interim prosecutor Eric Branscomb.

“I support Eric Branscom for two main reasons and of course because he is just a great guy,” said Yoder in his post. He went on to praise Banscomb for his “experience” as an assistant for several other Commonwealth’s Attorneys and his attempts to show cost-saving measures in the county.

Circuit judge Marc Long appointed Branscomb as the interim after Stephanie Murray Shortt became a juvenile and domestic relations judge last year.  He is running for election to the job this year.

Two other attorneys — longtime Floyd lawyer Harrison Schroeder and Travis Epes, who lives in the county but practices elsewhere — are also seeking the seat.

Yoder, of course, has the right to support whomever he wants but he also became vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors last month and, as such, his endorsement is seen as some as a coronation by the board of Branscomb.

“I guess I don’t need to cast any votes in the caucus,” said one email.  “The board has made its decision on our next Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

With three Republican attorneys running for the job, the decision of the GOP caucus in May will pretty much decide who will serve as prosecutor.

Other email writers wondered how Yoder made his decision on the candidate of choice.  Branscomb has been in office for just over two months and the vast majority of his cases have been plea bargains.

One wanted to know if Yoder has talked to either Schroeder or Epes about the job.

“Was this because of just friendship or a back-room deal or what?  Is that how decisions are made by our Supervisors?”

Another, an obvious supporter of Schroeder, said he wanted to hear a “recommendation from someone involved in law enforcement and not a heating and cooling contractor who happens to be a Supervisor.”

Yoder is a farmer, a contractor and a volunteer fireman.

I cover courts in Floyd County for The Floyd Press and spend a lot of time watching prosecutors in the courtroom.  Voters need to know more about each of the candidates before making an informed decision about who will be the county’s next elected prosecutor.

Sadly, politics, and only politics, comes into the play all too often, even at local levels here in Floyd County.  Yoder criticized retiring Sheriff Shannon Zeman for supporting incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Warner in last year’s elections.

Yoder said Zeman was “required” as a GOP office holder in Floyd County to support Republicans and only Republicans because, he claimed, GOP office holders must sign “an oath” to do so.

Zeman told us he supported Warner because of what Warner did for the county as both a Senator and a governor.  He did not give a damn about Warner’s political party or any sham “oath” that Constitutional scholars say is illegal anyway.

The question that this entire incident illustrates raised questions about the decision-making process of the vice chairman of the Floyd County Board of Supervisors or any other elected official who claims to serve us.

8 Responses to Politics rears its ugly head

  1. Was the endorsement as Vice Chair or as a citizen? Was it as a GOP rep or a citizen? While many don’t see a difference I do. All citizens have the right to back a candidate or not, even one who is holding a office. Endorsements do not mean a lot to me when picking someone to vote for and a R or D beside the name means even less.

    • It is my understanding the board of supervisors is not taking a position on the primary, which is how they should handle it. Lauren did not make it clear in his initial post on Facebook if he was speaking as a citizen or a supervisor but referenced supervisor matters. He should have made it clear if he was speaking as a citizen. I do raise a question when ever a chairman or vice chairman takes an endorsement in a contested primary. That was something that just wasn’t done but I’ve found that, nowadays, anything goes. 🙂

    • Stephanie Shortt was not a Republican prosecutor. She ran as an independent and beat a Republican in her first election as Commonwealth’s Attorney. The Republican she beat? Eric Branscomb. 🙂

  2. Doug, maybe Eric Branscom simply impressed the socks off of Mr. Yoder. I am assuming you saw this endorsement on Yoder’s personal facebook page so it’s not a huge leap to know that Mr. Yoder was speaking as a private citizen to his facebook friends. I have had the opportunity to know Eric and I am very impressed with his integrity, ethics and experience. I plan to support his efforts to become Floyd’s Commonwealth Attorney.

    • Yoder uses his Facdbook page to tout his Supervisor position on a regular basis and he linked to Branscomb’s campaign Facebook page as part of his “endorsement.” It is politics, nothing more, nothing less.

  3. I’m thinking of running as a Democrat for Commonwealth Attorney. I think I could plea bargain as good as anyone else, with just very little training……………..