‘You are a moron.’ North Carolina county ends Coke vending machine ban after pushback

County commissioners in North Carolina needed to ship a message to Coke by eradicating its vending machines from county property after the CEO spoke out towards changes to Georgia’s voting laws.

But the machines didn’t belong to the Atlanta-based beverage big.

The 12 Coke vending machines on Surry County property have been owned and operated by Coca-Cola Consolidated, an impartial bottling firm headquartered in Charlotte. Commissioners voted Monday to rescind the earlier vote after firm representatives identified the error throughout a public discussion board by which a number of residents additionally voiced their objections.

Alison Patient, vp of presidency affairs at Coca-Cola Consolidated, informed board members certainly one of its 15 amenities in North Carolina is positioned in Surry County.

“I’m here tonight because the commission has made a decision that directly impacts our business and the livelihood of the 37 employees and their families that work here in Surry County,” she stated. “We’re respectfully asking that you reconsider your actions.”

Surry is on the Virginia border, about 93 miles north of Charlotte.

Patient additionally clarified Coca-Cola Consolidated is “completely separate” from The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta and has “absolutely no control over their opinions or statements about any issue.”

What began the Coke ban

The determination to ban Coke machines in Surry County stems from feedback made by James Quincey, chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Co., after Georgia lawmakers handed laws in March overhauling voting legal guidelines within the state.

The laws contained sweeping adjustments to voter ID necessities and absentee ballots that The New York Times reported “will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers.”

Dozens of firms issued statements denouncing the regulation, including Quincey.

“We want to be crystal clear and state unambiguously that we are disappointed in the outcome of the Georgia voting legislation,” Quincey stated on April 1.

In response, Surry County Commissioner Eddie Harris made a motion during a May 17 board meeting to take away Coke machines from county property, calling Quincey’s assertion an “attempt by the major corporations and globalists to circumvent our election process.” Harris stated the Georgia voting regulation was a problem of “election integrity” and instructed Quincey, who’s British, “go back to England and mind his own business.”

“I don’t believe this will displace any workers in Surry County — 12 drink machines — but you know what, it’ll send a little bitty message that we’re not going to tolerate it in Surry County and you take your Coke machines, load it up, take them back to the house,” Harris stated.

The board handed the movement with three commissioners in favor and two towards. One commissioner abstained, which was counted as a vote in favor.

Harris was later interviewed on Fox & Friends, the place he stated the vote stemmed from eager to “push back against this woke cancel culture.”

“Our citizens support this,” he stated. “They’re absolutely sick and tired of this outrageous left-wing mob that is attacking freedom of speech, that is attacking people’s jobs.”

Public response

Three representatives from Coca-Cola Consolidated kicked off an hourlong public discussion board Monday at the beginning of the board’s recurrently scheduled assembly by which they urged commissioners to rethink.

Patient stated management has by no means made public statements about election legal guidelines in Georgia or every other state.

“We feel in this instance, we’re really not being treated equally,” she stated. “There is a long list of companies that spoke up about the Georgia legislation. I think there were more than 100. The one company that was not on that list was my company, Coca-Cola Consolidated. Yet we’re the only ones that appear to have been impacted in Surry County on that issue.”

Several residents additionally spoke out towards the ban — together with Julian Charles Robinson, who described the earlier board assembly as “full of conspiracy, hate talk and far right-wing activism.”

“How much will it take for the far-right Republicans sitting here who spoke last week, how much evidence will it take for them to accept and go home having lost the election?” he stated. “What’s it going to take?”

Wes Caudill from Elkin stated commissioners handed the vending machine ban towards Coca-Cola Consolidated and “didn’t have a clue about what they did.”

He stated he additionally heard commissioners speak about not wanting firms like Amazon to come back to the county.

“Quite frankly, if you sit on the Board of Commissioners for Surry County and you would refuse any company to bring economic development to our county, you are a moron,” Caudill stated.

Commissioners reply

At the tip of Monday’s assembly, Commissioner Larry Johnson — who abstained the primary time — moved to rescind the board’s vote.

Harris, who launched the primary vote, and Commissioner Van Tucker, who seconded it, stood by their preliminary vote in favor of the ban.

“I am holding my ground because I feel like that’s the right thing for me to do,” Tucker stated Monday. “I was trying to send a message to the flagship Coca-Cola and if there were some casualties beneath, sorry about that.”

They have been outnumbered by Johnson, Commissioner Bill Goins and board Chairman Mark Marion, who voted in favor of rescinding.

“I think it’s important to remember that the working man sometimes gets the shaft in all this — I think he really does,” Goins stated. “We go after somebody, we go after the CEO, he doesn’t really care. But the guy who fills those machines takes pride in what he does. I’ve seen that.”

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