Wednesday evening (October 27, 2010) I attended the Queen Anne's County Farm Bureau Candidate's Forum, at the Ruthsburg Community Center. In the moderator’s opening comments was the request that everyone remain civil. County commissioner candidates Paul Gunther and Dave Olds failed miserably with respect to that request.
After an answer by Bob Simmons on a question related to farming, Gunther responded by telling Mr. Simmons that he “should have stayed in the furniture business because you know jack about agriculture.” Gunther went on to declare that there were farmers in our county netting $15,000 per acre raising strawberries. This remark illustrated Paul’s immediate disregard for the rules on politeness. It also raised concern that Paul didn’t know as much about farming as he claimed. If there was a $15,000 an acre profit in raising strawberries, our farmers would not be planting corn, wheat and soybeans.
At the end of the forum I went to ask Mr. Gunther for a name or two of the farmers raising strawberries when suddenly Dave Olds, one of the candidates, went out of his way to throw a shoulder into me as I walked by. Olds immediately squared up inches in front of me and asked, “What are you going to do about it you f#@%king a##hole?” I asked him to leave me alone and continued my course to Mr. Gunther.
Upon reaching commissioner Gunther, I pointed out that my wife and I had just purchased a small farm and that we would most certainly be interested in meeting with a couple of the strawberry farmers so we too could net $15,000/acre on our land. Gunther quickly denied he ever said that and when I attempted to show him my notes which contained his exact words he angrily replied, “Storm, maybe you should get your f#@%king ears cleaned out so you can hear better.”
A short time later I was speaking with a few people at the back of the room when Dave Olds again approached me. He stated rather loudly, “Storm, you just know every f#@%king thing don’t you.” I replied, “Did you just say that?” His answer was, “You mean, you just know every f#@%king thing don’t you?”
Several people quickly left the confrontation, obviously taken aback by Olds’ behavior. I took out my pen and pad and informed him that I was going to record his statements. He grabbed them from me and said, “You don’t have to. I’ll write it down for you.” He wrote “kiss my butt” which I pointed out was far more polite than the words he had just been using. I suggested that perhaps he wasn’t as proud of his language after all.
Clenching a fist around my notepad, Mr. Olds then punched me in the center of my chest and said,”Here’s your pad back.” I took a small step back and told him not to hit me again to which he replied, “You mean like this?” as he hit me a second time. As in his earlier bullying he shoved into me and asked, “What are you going to do about it? Do something you f#@%king a##hole.”
A short distance away with his back turned to the altercation was one of the sheriff candidates, Livingston Banks. Mr. Banks at first thought I was kidding when I asked him to intervene but quickly realized that the situation was serious when he witnessed Mr. Olds shoving into me a final time. Thankfully, Mr. Banks’ presence quickly brought an end to Mr. Olds’ belligerent assault.
No matter what areas of disagreement people may have, verbal and physical bullying solves nothing. If we were to elect Paul Gunther or Dave Olds as our county commissioners, others in disagreement with them would no doubt be subjected to their abuse.
Mr. Olds and Mr. Gunther, thin skin and foul mouths are not positive attributes for a public servant.
Sveinn C. Storm