Barlow to challenge for Frady’s commission position
Tyrone resident David Barlow has announced he will seek the Post 2 seat on the Fayette County Commission currently held by veteran politician Herb Frady.
Frady for his part said he has not decided whether he will run for re-election.
There’s no arguing that Barlow and Frady are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, as Barlow sides with the vision of current commissioners Steve Brown and Allen McCarty.
Barlow doesn’t mince words about how he sizes up the other three commissioners, Lee Hearn, Robert Horgan and Frady.
“Lee Hearn in my personal opinion is manipulative, Herb Frady is a senile old man and Horgan is just a criminal. That’s how I look at those three guys,” Barlow said.
Hearn, Horgan and Frady are up for re-election this year, and Barlow is critical of their support for the West Fayetteville Bypass. Barlow said that had he been on the board last year, he would have voted with Brown and McCarty to scrap the bypass and reduce county property tax rates commensurately.
Barlow, who is a certified court videographer by trade, became politically active several years ago with the Fayette County Tea Party, which eventually became known as the Take Back Fayette County political action committee, after moving from Louisiana to be near his grandchildren. He credits a video from a candidate forum in 2010 in helping oust commission members Eric Maxwell and Jack Smith, and since then he had taken to videotaping county commission meetings on occasion, airing them on YouTube; they can be found by searching under his YouTube username: DBarlow777.
“The good thing about video is you don’t have to discuss it, it speaks for itself,” Barlow said.
But it wasn’t until June 23 of last year that Barlow decided he would run for a commission seat. That’s when he heard what he called the “final straw” as a citizen told the commission in essence that if they wanted the West Fayetteville Bypass, they should pay for it themselves.
Barlow also speaks with reverence of several residents who emotionally pleaded with the commission to reduce property taxes.
“I thought gosh, I really could help these people,” Barlow said. “... I had held signs on the streets for other candidates, but I have never been the name on the sign, that guy,” Barlow said, recalling his support for then-President George H.W. Bush in 1991.
In addition to his distaste for the West Fayetteville Bypass, Barlow said he would like to see the commission improve its transparency to citizens. Barlow said he wants the commission to take questions from citizens and provide answers at the same meeting.
Currently, when approached with mundane questions about county matters, commissioners will occasionally respond to residents or ask county staff to meet and address their concerns. But when the topic strays to one of controversy, particularly from someone who is critical of the board’s decisions, the board largely remains silent except for a comment from Frady thanking them for their input.
“There needs to be an opportunity for a citizen to ask a question and get an answer in my opinion,” Barlow said, adding that he advocates that change happen as soon as possible.
Barlow does not hide his faith from his actions, either, as a born-again Christian who advertises his faith on his vehicle, which he calls the “hallejulah-van.” He credits God with helping reconcile with his wife Cherie after their divorce and eventual remarriage.
Barlow also has been publicly critical of new Fayette County School Board Chairman Leonard Presberg, asking at a recent school board meeting if Presberg would reveal which religion he ascribes to after it was called into question when details of Presberg’s association with a group called the Fayette Freethought Society became public knowledge.
Presberg didn’t respond, and BoE member Janet Smola said Barlow’s comments violated the board’s policy preventing personal attacks during public comments.
Barlow defended his stance this week, saying he felt Presberg’s religion matters because those who hold seats in authority should be transparent.
Barlow said he was concerned about how Presberg, who was appointed in October to a vacant seat by the other four board members, rose to be the group’s chairman shortly after the BoE voted 3-2 to settle the district voting lawsuit brought forth by the Fayette County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Barlow said he felt there was some maneuvering behind the scenes prior to Presberg being selected chairman.
Frady said he was waiting to see who else will seek his Post 2 seat on the commission before deciding whether or not to run. He noted that with an $80 million budget to manage, the job isn’t for everyone, nothing that he once ran a company in Peachtree City with a $30 million budget.
The budget, in fact, is one area which Barlow acknowledges is a weakness for now, but says he hopes to get up to speed on.
As for the field seeking seats on the commission, Frady suggested that the local Republican Party could help vet the candidates to help provide knowledge on their backgrounds.