Bailey backers speak up

Published 12:09 pm Saturday, June 22, 2013


ISLE OF WIGHT—As far as he’s concerned, Byron “Buzz” Bailey is here to stay.

The supervisor representative for the Newport District in Isle of Wight County was again confronted by residents at Thursday’s board meeting, calling on him to resign before they file a recall petition.

Again he declined to step down, and intends to fulfill his term through 2015.

The petitioners remain upset since Bailey and school board member Herb DeGroft were exposed in mid-May for emails of crude humor they had privately circulated to other board members and county staff. Several of the emails featured President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

Dottie Harris, president of the county’s NAACP, called for both men to leave office because she believes their actions are so hurtful to African-Americans such as herself. Harris said she received a printed copy of the emails from school board member Denise Tynes, who said she was sent them anonymously.

Supervisor Chairwoman JoAnn Hall of the Hardy District and Rex Alphin of the Carrsville District have also asked Bailey to step down for the good of the board and county.

In past meetings, the calls for resignation were noticeably vocal during a citizens’ comment time. At this meeting, in contrast, several neighbors and friends spoke on Bailey’s behalf.

“I get a sense he’s very dedicated to the people and the county,” said Rick Douglas in support.

“He’s been a neighbor of mine for many years,” said Bobby Lockhart. “We are all human beings. I really do not feel his mistakes warrant removal from office. He’s an asset to the board, and I’d like to see Mr. Bailey continue as a board member.”

“I’ve never known him to be profane,” said Sherry Robinson, who describes Bailey as a friend, client and neighbor of 20 years. “His character is above reproach.”

“He truly loves this county,” said Gail Lockhart. “I’ve accepted his apology. Isle of Wight has bigger problems to solve.”

George Gallman, who said he’s known Bailey for eight years, said he disagrees with the actions (i.e., circulating the emails), but not the man.

“He made mistakes. I just don’t think it’s worth it to remove him from office,” added Gallman.

“I want him to stay in office,” said Terry Streep.