Guilford County Commissioner James Upchurch is running in the Republican primary for state auditor, and, if you are political opponent who wants to criticize him, now is the perfect time to do so – because he can’t say anything back.
Literally. He lost his voice and can’t speak above a very slight whisper.
At the Guilford County Board of Commissioners’ Thursday, June 1 meeting, after a large group of school funding advocates gave input to the board on the manager’s proposed budget for fiscal 2023-2024, Chairman of the Board Skip Alston explained to the audience that Upchurch had lost his voice and Alston then offered a comment that Upchurch had previously asked him in writing to convey.
The fact that the commissioner was voiceless led to a few humorous moments at the meeting. At one point, on an agenda item, Upchurch did want to ask a question and so Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy, who sits next to Upchurch on the dais, announced that Upchurch wanted to say something. He then whispered the question in her ear and she repeated out loud what he said.
When asked via text how he lost his voice, he replied, “Probably on the campaign trail. I’m up to 38 counties now. I’m headed to Wilmington tomorrow and Statesville Saturday. I’m going to try some home remedies tonight.”
When it was pointed out to him that it is difficult to campaign well, when you have lost your voice, he texted that he had “been talking a whole lot more than normal.”
The commissioner was still in good spirits because he added an “LOL.”
At another point in the meeting, when the commissioners make their final comments, Upchurch had stepped out of the room when it was his turn to speak.
Alston moved on to the next commissioner and commented that it didn’t matter anyway because Upchurch was unable to say anything.