And, yes, this has to do with the mayor’s race in the City of Jasper. These are beliefs I try to apply no matter where circumstances raise the question.
While I obviously no longer live in Jasper and some might feel I have no business with an opinion about the mayoral contest there. I invested 16 years of love and sweat equity in a town I continue to love and care about, not to mention the issues of fairness and equal opportunity. I would argue that most of the free world has a stake in this election.
I am privileged to know, and to call friend, both men seeking election in that mayoral race — current mayor Mike Lout and challenger Max Griffin. The issue uppermost in the minds of half the free world today, thanks to extensive publicity, is Max’s sexual preference.
I KNOW Mike extremely well. We were competitors and good friends. We’re still good friends and will remain so. No one cares more about Jasper than Mike.
I don’t know Max as well, even though his then-wife, Anita Buckmaster Griffin, worked for me at The Jasper Newsboy. Max worked out of town. I know many of the Buckmaster family. Anita’s brother, Billy Buckmaster, is a former coach, teacher and administrator in the Jasper Schools.
The Griffin family is prominent and well known in town and the Griffin name is strongly associated with one of the major banks there.
Max is an airline pilot, who has extensive experience managing large numbers of people for that airline.
Almost every Jasper voter is faced with the same experiences I have, a first-hand knowledge of both candidates.
SO, YOU SEE, folks, this election is partly about freedom to make personal choices in life. It is about defending American principles to choose whatever paths we elect to tread.
And, yes, it is about defending the right for someone to do something that, as individuals, we may not approve. I say it is our absolute responsibility to defend those rights at whatever cost, because that’s how these freedoms for all of us were paid for in the first place.
Fair-minded individuals might have a hard time deciding for whom to vote.
That is certainly a great reflection on both candidates because they’re both well qualified. Each loves Jasper and cares about the well being of the city and its residents.
If people wish to be harsh in their view of each candidate, those who have strong faith-based beliefs about the rite of marriage can certainly take issue with the incumbent as well. He and Debbie “The Widow” (Mike’s appendage for her) Foster have been together for many years and, though they each have long maintained separate residences, they would not intentionally mislead anyone about the extent of their relationship and any level of cohabitation.
Their relationship and arrangements are their business. It’s personal. I also happen to know the commitment is deep.
WHILE I KNOW Max, I don’t know if there is a partner and co-habitation or not. Knowing Max, though, if there is a partner, I feel sure his commitment is equally as deep.
Frankly, it’s none of my business, in the case of either candidate.
Nor anyone else’s.
If you’re going to judge them as mayoral candidates, do so on the very impressive qualifications and experience each has to fill that office. Not on their personal life choices. Then cast your vote.
Good luck to both candidates and to the voters and residents of Jasper.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.