His decision is a reversal of what he said just after the June 8 election — when he said that although he liked Waters, he didn’t believe he could support him politically. Freemantle had lost in the primary after taking about 26 percent of the vote. Now, there will be a runoff between Smith and Waters on Tuesday for the Republican primary. Waters took the most votes with 42 percent of the vote, while Ann Smith had 32. Waters has been deployed with his Air Force Reserves unit, but he says he’ll be back this fall.
Despite Freemantle’s endorsement of Waters, he indicated that it had been a tough decision.
“The bottom line for me is what’s going to be best for the people of District 6,” Freemantle said. “It can’t be about me.”
Freemantle said he still has some reservations about Waters, saying that he hasn’t been keeping up with what’s been happening on county council.
“I do believe that he’s a moral man, and I think he’s of good character,” Freemantle said. “Yes, he’s clueless on the issues, but you know, when I step back and get out of my ‘little boy’ clothes and look at it from an adult’s point of view, we all were clueless at one point in time. And I really think, based on my conversations with him, that if I offer him my help and I’m genuine, we might make ourselves a good council person right there.”
Jane Jones, Waters’ campaign manager, said she and Waters are glad to have received Freemantle’s endorsement.
“Ken really appreciates the endorsement fm Rick Freemantle,” she said. “They had talked a couple of weeks ago and agreed to help each other if one of them lost in the primary.”
Jones also said that Waters wouldn’t let Freemantle’s supporters down.
“I know Rick has attended a lot of County Council meetings and been involved with trying to rid the county of the corruption in the past,” she said. “He is to be commended for all his time and efforts. When Ken is elected, he won’t let Rick and his supporters down. Ken represents no special interest groups and has no ties to past Council members. He will be at the meetings and will work very hard to continue what has been started and bring new ideas and energy to the table.”
Freemantle, an ardent opponent of current incumbent Ron Wilson, said he’s concerned that Smith will be too similar to Wilson.
“The question must be asked, just how does Ann Smith plan to move forward while singing the praises for Ron Wilson’s actions in office over the past four years?” Freemantle said in his written endorsement that he sent to The Williamston Journal and the Powdersville Post. “This elected official voted for more taxes in one evening than his predecessor did in six years. Ron Wilson tried to zone all of district six with his one vote, which would have robbed us, the voters, of our right to decide the matter. He tried to give us a $25 fee on every vehicle we owned. Eighteen days after his daughters contract with the county was renegotiated by Joey Preston to a three-year lucrative contract with a buyout clause, Ron Wilson orchestrated a $1.14 million buy out of Joey Preston’s contract. Was Ann Smith serious when she said, ‘I only hope that I can fill his (Ron Wilson’s) shoes?’”
Wilson has consistently said that he had nothing to do with the county’s contract with his daughter. He also said that he was in favor of a $1.14 million severance package for Preston in 2008 in order to help the county avoid a lawsuit from Preston.
In regard to zoning, Wilson said afterward in 2007 that he was wrong to try to zone his whole district.
Smith said that although she’s supported Wilson and is a friend of his, she’s not identical to Wilson.
“Everybody has friends,” she said. “I have friends of all nationalities, Democrats, Republicans, blacks, whites. You should not criticize someone for their friends. And I am by no means anyone’s puppet. That, I can assure you. I stand on my own two feet, and this campaign I have run on my own merit.”
She also said people should be careful about labeling someone just because of his or her friends.
“I know that Mr. Freemantle has an agenda, and he dislikes me well enough to see just about anyone else in there besides me,” she said.
Freemantle has also said that some people have been spreading rumors about Waters, saying that he’ll be overseas for the next few years.
“Out on the campaign trail, while knocking on doors, I was asked several times if I was the guy who would be in Iraq for the next two years. Why would someone spread such a bold-face lie?” Freemantle said. “Mr. Waters is on record several times now explaining that he would only be gone for a few months, and he would be here for the November elections. Why would someone be so shameful as to attack Mr. Water’s selfless dedication to his country’s safety and well being?”
Waters has been deployed with his Air Force Reserves unit, but has consistently said that he would be back in the fall before the general election. He’s also said that he will be able to be present at meetings if he’s elected to county council.
Waters’ opponents say it’s hard to guarantee that he’ll always be present at county council meetings if he’s in the Air Force Reserves.
Smith has picked up a few key endorsements of her own — including prominent Powdersville residents Dr. Freddie Zink and Norman Garrison.