Like many of you, we watched with curiosity as Gerome Chavis months ago began using social media to call out, as he would say, the crooks in Robeson County who have made such a mess of this place while lining their own pockets.
Soon enough, we couldn’t wait for the next installment.
We found Chavis to be a lot of things, including amusing in his delivery, although we doubt those he was naming — and he has no hesitancy to drop a name — were themselves amused. But what we also found him to be, and this is all that matters, is informed. It is clear to us that Chavis has an army of silent partners feeding him information, and what he was saying matched perfectly with what we were hearing.
When his critics began attacking Chavis because of his criminal history, we knew with certainty that Chavis’ punches were finding their mark. He has been explicit in detailing how county leaders and their marionettists have used racial politics to divide and conquer.
We marveled at the hubris of those who would push a perjurer for sheriff while dismissing Chavis because of his past. Some of them, by the way, have done a little time themselves. Hypocrites, they are.
Chavis’ bull-in-a-China-shop arrival on the local political scene, as chronicled in a page 1A story on him by staff writer Scott Bigelow, was inspired by the commissioners’ now-aborted attempt to purchase the Angel Exchange building, a misguided effort that we still don’t understand. We said at the time that we believed Chairman Raymond Cummings and The Three Stooges had overplayed their hands, and while we were correct, we didn’t predict exactly what unfolded.
You see, if not for Angel Exchange, it is possible that our sheriff-elect would be a serial perjurer. We remain distressed that more than 7,300 people would vote for someone who lied repeatedly under oath to be sheriff, and while that wasn’t enough to elect him, these are the folks who kept this county from celebrating more election-day victories as the status quo on the boards of education and commission was the other winner that day.
Chavis didn’t exit stage right when Angel Exchange was no longer in play, and, emboldened we believe by his victory, moved on to the May primary. We don’t know if Chavis changed a lot of minds, although certainly he changed some, but we are convinced he pushed some folks to the polls who might have sat this one out. The key, however, was he consolidated support behind Burnis Wilkins, who on May 8 was the only of the other three candidates who could win the election.
Chavis and the We the People movement have now turned their attention toward trying to win financial support for the Public Schools of Robeson County, and that can only happen if the commissioners vote to provide more funding — or put a bonds referendum before the people. The commissioners have long demonstrated their indifference toward funding the local schools, and this has endured because the voters have not demanded better.
It remains to be seen if Chavis can inspire a new level of accountability for the county commissioners, something this newspaper has failed to achieve despite our willingness to expose some of them for their greed, their cronyism and nepotism, incompetence, and willingness to serve themselves and not you.
We are glad to have an ally in the crusade, but without the power of We the People, Chavis will become no more than that guy who used to do Facebook videos. Movements, almost by definition, come and go, and we can assure you, the powers-that-be are counting on Chavis and his unseen friends to go.