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Cary Allred's burial ovation

By D. G. Martin
Posted Sunday, June 21, 2009

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Chapel Hill, NC - You remember Marc Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, beginning with: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.”

Should it be this way for Cary Allred, whose recent political suicide and resignation from the state house of representatives was the center of attention in the state’s political news last month?

I come to bury Cary, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Cary...

Should we simply bury him politically and remember only the events of one evening? Allred’s night “horribilis" began with a trendy cocktail called a “chelada” (beer, clam juice, tomato juice, lime, and more), then a conversation with a highway patrolman about racing on I-40 at a speed in excess of 100 miles per hour, a late arrival for the Monday evening legislative session, a sharp “over the top and out of order” debate on a pending bill, and finally a big public bear hug and kiss implanted on a young female page, who was the daughter of Allred’s friend.

If Allred had only stayed in Burlington and skipped that Monday night legislative session, you would probably never have heard of him and he would still be in the state legislature.

But he didn’t.

And that one evening pileup of “indiscretions” brought down Cary Allred just as surely as the knives of Brutus, Cassius and their co-conspirators brought down Julius Caesar.

There is no Marc Anthony to deliver an oration explaining Allred’s positive features. But surely there are many positive things to say about a man who served in political office much of his life—years on the Alamance County Commission, the state senate and the state house.

A good friend of mine, talking about Allred, put it something like this: “Almost any southerner can identify with him and compare him to an uncle, one who is always ready to help and would do anything for you, but sometimes just goes overboard. You love him, but what do you do? He is family.”

I remember watching Allred in action two years ago. He had taken up the cause of an old time locksmith who had been fixing broken locks in his neighborhood for years. A new locksmith licensing law required him to register, take tests, pay fees and maintain his license by taking locksmith education classes.

Allred was trying to persuade a legislative committee to exempt older and experienced locksmiths from the education requirements since his locksmith friend “didn’t really need any more education” to do what he had been doing all his life.

Allred presented his arguments with a passion for the plight of an individual who was tragically being put out of business by insensitive government legislation.

He did not persuade the committee to overturn a system of regulation designed to deal with professionals who install and repair sophisticated electronic security systems.

But he persuaded me that he had a good heart that would go to bat for the “little guy.”

Apparently, he also persuaded a lot of voters in Alamance County that he would try to stand up for them, rather than just working to go along with other legislators.

Current Alamance County Republican chair Robert Simpson said, “Cary's a lone wolf. He usually doesn't follow the advice or consent of his fellow Republicans. He does generally what he wants to do.”

Being a “lone wolf” might be the right thing for a politician who wants to please voters who distrust government and all the compromises it involves.

But when a “lone wolf” gets in trouble, there is no one to shield him from the daggers.

Ask Caesar.

Or ask Cary.


D.G. Martin is the author of “Interstate Eateries,” a guide to family owned homecooking restaurants near North Carolina’s interstate highways

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Cary Allred's burial ovation
Allred’s night “horribilis" began with a trendy cocktail called a “chelada” (beer, clam juice, tomato juice, lime, and more).

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