We have never been more disappointed in a local elected official than we are right now with Sampson Clerk of Court Norman Wayne Naylor.
And never have we seen someone so blatantly use the power of their position more than Naylor did when he fired an employee after that employee was upfront enough to let the current clerk know of his intentions to run for the seat Naylor currently holds.
But that’s exactly what our clerk did, according to Chris Driver, a four-year employee of the Clerk of Court’s office. And we have no reason to believe differently given Naylor’s comments, or lack thereof, to The Sampson Independent when asked about the situation last week. His one-word responses to questions about the firing leave no room to assume much else.
And when you couple the cryptic replies with the fact that Driver was fired 24 hours after he told Naylor of his intentions, it merely drives the point home.
We find that kind of behavior and misuse of power reprehensible. It’s the kind of back room, dirty politics you expect out of Washington and even Raleigh, but not here in Sampson County, where our elected officials are supposed to (and usually do) rise above the fray.
Not so with Naylor, who opted to jump into the muck and mire rather than take the high road.
Driver, who publicly announced his intention to seek the Clerk of Court’s seat in the 2018 election last Wednesday night, briefly acknowledged his firing during an interview that night, but he didn’t go into detail nor, admirably, did he sucker punch Naylor for letting him go.
Now with word spreading of Driver’s firing, we understand Naylor is saying the young man was released from his duties for other reasons. Maybe so, but the signs certainly don’t point in that direction.
Naylor, who has served as clerk since 2002, and ran unopposed in his last attempt, would like for us to believe he wouldn’t stoop so low. Truth be told, so would we. Unfortunately we believe Driver’s account.
Whether it was a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that someone in his office would dare run against him or the reality that this time around, with competition lapping at his heels from the Democrats as well as from his own party, he just might not win, Naylor took a road we wish he had never traveled.
For years, we have supported Naylor. He was a good county commissioner and he started his tenure as clerk in the same vein. Somewhere along the way, we’re afraid politics and power reared their ugly head and, like so many politicians, Naylor fell victim to its headiness.
We hate it came to that, but it seems clear it did. Perhaps it’s time Naylor thought long and hard about his tenure and opted to let others have the opportunity he was afforded over a decade ago to represent the county as its clerk.