This past weekend, Deanna McElmon, owner of the GYM and Aquatic and Wellness Center in Cape Carteret made waves (pun intended) when she stood up and said “Yes” in contrast to Governor Cooper’s constant and repetitive refrain of “No.”
Ms. McElmon, along with hundreds of fitness centers, gymnasiums and similar studios statewide were blindsided by the governor’s last minute change of his Phase 2 opening mandates Wednesday denying them the opportunity to open. The GYM’s owner chose to ignore the mandate on the grounds that it was discriminatory and illegal. The following day Cape Carteret Police served Ms. McElmon a citation for failing to adhere to Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 141.
Other gyms and fitness centers across the state followed Ms. McElmon’s challenge of the executive order and have now prepared to sue the governor. They were not alone in displaying their frustration and dismissal of the governor’s executive orders. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians decided they too would ignore the governor’s negative and damaging mandates by visiting our beaches, attending public events and shopping without regard to physical restrictions such as social distancing.
We have noted in several recent editorials the governor’s lack of leadership. His communications are vague and dispiriting, showing no interest in listening to the needs and expectations of his constituents. Above all, he offers no positive solutions. His efforts to date can be best described as “hunker down and wait till the threat passes.”
This is not leadership - it is a de facto denial of responsibility.
As the senior elected state official, it is the governor’s job to represent all the citizens of the state and thus to be understanding and empathetic to their needs, something that is missing in all of his comments and actions to date.
Further, as the senior elected official it is his job to facilitate differing opinions among the numerous agencies he has appointed and to seek counsel from the legislature; again action that we have not seen.
Above all it is the duty of the senior elected official to consider all of the needs and demands of his constituency, articulate plans that move forward through the threats– not stand stock still and await the passage of time.
Cooper served three terms as the state’s attorney general. He then chose to run for governor knowing full well that he would have to make decisions and address challenges. He is failing miserably, destroying the state’s economy and in the process lives and dreams of hundreds of small business owners.
Accompanying this editorial is an op-ed by John Hood of the John Locke Foundation that details the economic, social and now academic destruction that is the result of Governor Cooper’s failed leadership.
What the state needs is positive action from the state’s executive. Ms. McElmon’s actions Friday challenging the governor’s mandates, and the pending lawsuits, are indications that if positive leadership is not coming from the governor, she along with business leaders across the state will fill the void and provide positive alternatives.
A mass leadership effort, while a positive outcome, does not solve the problem that Governor Cooper continues to exhibit. If he is unwilling to show a positive way forward, then in November voters will need to consider changing course and electing a leader who knows that a positive response is more powerful than a negative, do-nothing response.