After reading Steve Wildsmith’s column, “Newbie Doesn’t Know Blount County” (Jan. 17, 6A), I decided to read Mark Pulliam’s column, “Leftists Are Colonizing Red Towns," published online Jan. 13 in The Federalist and RealClearPolitics, to which Steve was referring.
I served first as managing editor, then editor, at The Daily Times for more than 27 years. During that stint, readers made various claims regarding a perceived political bent: Some said we served as an "arm of the Religious Right," while others said we were "a leftist, Democratic rag." So, with respect to Mr. Pulliam's comments in The Federalist (yes, I read it), I'd take his assessment of the current editorial bent of The Daily Times with less than a grain of salt.
As a longtime political observer, I could tell Mr. Pulliam a thing or two about Blount County politics. I remember when we used to joke that the Blount County Democratic Party could meet in a small room. Nonetheless, as retirees from the North and elsewhere discovered the grand quality of life in the foothills of the Smokies (it was the halfway point to Florida, for many of them), the political landscape began to shift a tad, but nothing like Mr. Pulliam describes.
As Steve suggests, Mr. Pulliam’s obviously a transplant who didn't do his homework, especially if he thought before moving here that Maryville College — a historic Presbyterian college — is like the Rush Limbaugh-praised Hillsdale College. Likewise, his relocation studies fell way short if he assumed that since the political demographic polled overwhelmingly Republican, its leadership and populace put partisanship over people.
Yes, I was mildly surprised when Sarah Herron was elected to Maryville City Council, but it only served as evidence of what I had been saying for years: The county is changing. Is it changing for the worse? I don't think so, but not because I'm some sort of leftist. Like many Blount Countians, I'm a middle-of-the-road voter who sometimes will "split the ticket."
Steve, with whom I served in the newsroom for nearly two decades, is correct when he says Blount Countians of all political persuasions have learned to serve together for the common good. With respect to the homeless and poor, Christians in this county may split at the polls, but we will band together to do justice and show mercy.
Mr. Pulliam, who is "not from around here," might be happier in Mississippi, Alabama or Louisiana.
Frank “Buzz” Trexler