Roy Exum: Who Are Nancy & Marie?

Saturday, June 28, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

“Nancy Doyle” and “Marie Burton” are purportedly two residents of Signal Mountain who wrote letters on this week in support of Rex Sparks in his quest to become a Sessions Court judge but – oh, what’s this? – these two girls appear quite hard to find. A quick check, and admittedly it was done hurriedly, could locate no one on Signal Mountain who has ever heard of them.

I am sure there has been an error or omission somewhere, maybe the street where they live hasn’t been named yet. I also suspect they may be sisters because they write so much like one another. Really. They even both shared the same paltry line, “My vote is for Rex Sparks” and anyone who writes like that has got to be kin.

It appears that “Nancy” allegedly went to the Hamilton County Election Commission to snoop around and learned that Rex’s opponent, the esteemed Christie Sell, has voted as a Democrat several times since 1998. Nobody at the Election Commission can recall “Nancy Doyle” coming in to study Judge Sells’ record but perhaps it was a busy day. I guess people study past voting records a lot.

In the letter purportedly written by “Marie,” she wonders if Christie voted for Biden, Clinton or Obama, as if that has any bearing whatsoever on the fact Judge Sell is one of the finest judges this town has ever had. “Marie” also claims the judge has voted on the Democratic ticket four times. Well, whoop-de-do.

“Marie” apparently believes the Sessions Court has a flawed domestic violence court and a flawed mental health court but – get this -- not one soul at the court house can ever remember anyone named “Marie Burton” as having any pointed interest in either program. Certainly she would have to do research and all of that, wouldn’t you suspect?

Nonetheless, both women write “My vote is for Rex Sparks” and that, my friend, is evermore going to take some sort of magical trick. A review of registered voters in Hamilton County on Friday did not show any persons named “Nancy Doyle” or “Marie Burton” – not just on Signal Mountain but in East Ridge, Red Bank or anywhere else. Isn’t that odd? How are they going to vote if they are not registered voters? I know: Just wait until they try to show a photo ID.

I seriously fear there may be some political chicanery going on and, when I asked Judge Sell about it on Friday, Christie just laughed as she shook her head and rolled her eyes. The judge wouldn’t say anything about the letters, just laughing a little harder. And I sensed some “bench wisdom” from a veteran who has heard every line imaginable so I didn’t push it.

“Nancy” stated in her letter that Rex Sparks “is a strong Christian and not afraid or ashamed to show it.” And “Marie” wrote that Rex Sparks has “conservative values and has a servant’s heart” so I wouldn’t accuse a man like that of anything untoward. Besides that, he’s a lawyer. But it does cast ol’ Rex in a peculiar sort of light and you wonder who would do something that stupid to anyone.

At the same time, I will boldly predict Rex Sparks has about as much of a chance at beating Christie Sell in the upcoming election as he does getting “Nancy” and “Marie” to cast a vote for him. In the only contested race involving our five Sessions Court judges, the amateur Sparks picked the worst possible opponent because Christie Sell has proven in the past eight years she does indeed have conservative values and a servant’s heart. Everybody in Hamilton County knows Christie Sell is, quite simply, the best there is.

Few have ever heard of Rex and fewer still can believe he would waste his money and his time in such a folly but, then again, somebody went to a lot of trouble to dream up the ghostly twosome of “Nancy” and “Marie” so for everything there is a season. I know Christie would be delighted to meet either of them. She even told me she would love to visit anytime I could bring the girls by.

If I could do so, maybe Judge Sell could tell them about how much she enjoys helping people on a daily basis and how she and the other Sessions judges have done such a creditable job in talking to schools, civic groups and making the Sessions Court more “open” and “viable” in our community.

“Nancy” and “Marie” could learn firsthand how Judge Sell worries about the young people in our community, about how carefully she explains to students how one bullet changes multiple lives and that a minor shoplifting incident can keep a young person from ever being employed. They could hear about the civil cases the Sessions judges hear and see – up close – the compassion that is put on display every day at our Justice Building.

If either would dare ask, Judge Sell would happily explain that all her life she has voted for a person instead of a political party. “We have some good people on both the Republican and the Democratic ballot. I try to vote for the person I think is best for the job. One of the best things about being a judge is that you strive to respect everybody. Every person is equal under the law and I treat all of them the way I would hope to be treated.”

But, alas, nobody can seem to find “Nancy” or “Marie.” How is Christie Sell ever going to let these two know she is the most qualified, the most able, and the most gifted candidate facing opposition in the forthcoming election? It is a mystery with a secret that may never revealed but one thing is for sure, Rex Sparks ain’t gonna’ be getting any votes from “Nancy” and “Marie,” no matter what their alleged letters might claim.

The fact is neither is registered to vote.

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