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BEACON FILE PHOTO ELECTED TO REPRESENT US — Dr. Fred Lowry, center, is seated between County Chair Jeff Brower and County Council Member Heather Post when the Volusia County Council is in session in DeLand. The other members of the County Council, not shown, are Danny Robins, Ben Johnson, Billie Wheeler and Barb Girtman.

It’s remarkable that we find it necessary to counsel an elected public official who has been not only a member of the Deltona City Commission, but of the Volusia County Council, spanning more than 11 years of public service. Nevertheless …

What follows is an open letter to Fred Lowry, representative on the County Council for District 5, which encompasses all of Deltona and Enterprise, and parts of DeBary and Osteen.

Pastor Lowry, no one forced you to run for public office, to assume the incredibly important role of giving your constituents eyes and ears on and a voice in their local government — a government designed to be “by the people and for the people.”

You chose to run, and the people trusted you enough to perform this role, so they elected you. When that happened, you gave up the life of an ordinary person, and became a public figure. Again, this is the role you chose, of your own free will.

We entrusted you with amazing powers. You can reach in our wallets to take our hard-earned money to run the government you’re in charge of. You can make rules about how we can conduct our lives and how we are allowed to use our property. Your decisions affect the roads we drive on, the services we depend on, and the communities we live in.

We pay you for this. County Council members earn $45,240 per year, an amount that’s about $5,000 higher than the average annual wage in West Volusia.

At the Sept. 21 County Council meeting, you chastised our county chair, Jeff Brower, because Brower had announced publicly that you had missed two consecutive meetings of the County Council because you were suffering from COVID-19, and were hospitalized with the virus.

You said you hadn’t given Brower permission to share information about your health, and scolded him for sharing it.

Hogwash. Brower did exactly the right thing, in consideration of all the people who consent to be governed by the Volusia County Council.

No one needs your permission to share important information about a public figure’s fitness to carry out his or her duties. It’s the public’s right to know. It’s essential information for the people who are governed.

A famous book we think you’re pretty familiar with contains dozens of passages offering advice for modern-day folk who might choose to be leaders. The Gospel of Matthew, quoting Jesus, has one such passage, in the 20th chapter: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant.”

We deserve to know what’s up with our public servants. We need to know if they are sick, bankrupt, in jail, prosperous, on the job, homebound or disabled — temporarily or permanently.

Yes, this is contrary to what we ordinarily view as a person’s privacy, especially where matters of health are concerned.

But all elected officials must remember: Those rights to privacy belong to private citizens. You chose to give up being a private citizen, and chose to become a public figure. There’s a trade-off, and you can’t have the title and the powers and the salary and the benefits, and forgo the sacrifices. It doesn’t work that way.

Pastor Lowry, we’re thrilled that you are home from the hospital and have apparently overcome the coronavirus, a public-health threat whose very existence you called into question in your widely publicized Memorial Day sermon, calling it a lie perpetrated by our government.

Now that you’re feeling better, we hope you’ll devote some time to contemplating what you owe your constituents, in exchange for your power and your salary. Among those debts is transparency, about your personal life as well as your public works.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well written, this man is a menace to our community and has been since crossing the political line while posing as a preacher (or was it vice versa?). He hijacked religion for his own personal gain, and completely used his followers as stepping stones to local government seats.

    As a result, he has lost the trust of his constituents (and former church members) whom at one time, respected him, but ultimately 95% left for other churches. The ignorance and entitlement towards anyone who dares questions his actions is beyond comprehensible (as an elected official).

    His sermon that woke up the world to Fred Lowry’s homophobic hate and science lies, was a wake up call that this community desperately needed to hear. If this council had any heart, they would have already voted him out or demanded a resignation (yes, a pipe dream with these spineless bunch).

    A community is well served by a unbiased spiritual leader, someone who can rise above politics and speak truth to power. Someone who doesn’t take sides but listens to all sides with respect. Someone whose words can calm hearts and help extinguish anger.

    The above statement rules out Fred Lowry by a thousand yard stare.

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