Letter: Speaking out after city COVID policy firing

Graphic by Lori Deaton

My name is Danny Walton, and I’m one of the five former city of Asheville employees fired due to refusing to comply with Debra Campbell’s short-lived COVID policy [“Asheville Board Upholds Employee Firings Over Vaccine Mandate,” March 9, Xpress].

I liked my job, really. I got to hang out with awesome people as they taught me valuable trade skills. I’d planned on being a part of this organization for much longer. But unfortunately, our leaders valued their fashionable, misinformed COVID policy over their own employees.

It quickly became clear that the new policy was massively unpopular. We essential workers never missed a day of working in person. Over a year into the pandemic, our dear leaders finally decided it was safe for them to join us and demanded we all submit to a new protocol explicitly based on the Biden administration’s failed policy. I pondered this as I sat across the desk from my supervisor while he wrote me up for “insubordination” and again on the day of my final termination meeting at City Hall.

The city claims that forcing someone to undergo unnecessary medical procedures is the same as a uniform policy, which is so laughably stupid that it’s almost like something written into a satire portraying a bleak, dystopian clown world in which low IQ is valued as a social merit.

After the new COVID policy was announced to our roughly 1,400 municipal employees, hundreds of people, many of whom had been with the organization for years, became fearful of losing their jobs and chose to take the injection under a state of duress. Debra Campbell, whose annual salary is over $230,000, clearly exhibited the mindset of an abuser by repeatedly claiming that it was for our health, while simultaneously threatening to remove our source of income and health insurance.

As an employee, I discovered that the processes put in place that are supposed to serve as a countervailing force to organizational incompetence have merely become an extension of it. When appealing to the clearly biased and oppositional Civil Service Board, which delayed our hearing for nearly three months, they simply canceled it before our side was even allowed to present. Could this be because continuing the proceedings would have allowed too many inconvenient truths contrary to their narrative to come out?

Then, after the policy had only been in place for four months, it was dropped exactly one week after this sham hearing. Could this have something to do with the recent lawsuit filed against them in Superior Court or perhaps the countless similar court cases currently raining down upon municipalities all around the country?

I fully stand behind my decision. While the city has shown its ignorance and cowardice, I’ve had an opportunity to be tested and grow as an individual. This ordeal has cost me my job but has also given me a new awareness of the strength of my character. I would never, for any job, sacrifice my autonomy. By making the choice that I did, I remain a free person, unbound by fear, peer pressure and fleeting social trends.

— Danny Walton


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6 thoughts on “Letter: Speaking out after city COVID policy firing

    • MV

      Really, Paul? You’d rather the writer of this letter not find another job? Whether or not one agrees with his vaccination stance (I’m vaccinated, by the way, and have worn my mask in public for 2 solid years), how does it help matters if Danny cannot land appropriate employment and then must lean on social programs that are already so heavily burdened and/or join our ever-growing unhoused population? How on earth can someone displaying such a knee-jerk juvenile outlook such as yours be allowed to serve on Asheville’s Board of Adjustment?

  1. Bright

    Excellent letter, Paul. There’s a great quote that applies to the haters venting their anger above. “When a man of true genius is born into the world, you can tell it by this sign…that the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” (Of course, the dunces will have to look up the word confederacy). Good luck in your quest for better employment, but be careful of the uneducated in Asheville…there are many.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Remember this, Paul: Asheville is controlled by EVIL forces and incompetent boobs. Oh, and Debra Campbell is paid $231,000+ per year salary plus all major benefits. Her employment was an easy arrangement.

  3. Kimberly

    I commend you Danny. Thank you for taking a stand at great personal cost for the right thing.
    You probably won’t find much support in this community of frightened lemmings.
    I wish you the very best!

  4. luther blissett

    ” While the city has shown its ignorance and cowardice, I’ve had an opportunity to be tested and grow as an individual. ”

    But not for Covid, I imagine. You f’d around and you found out. Congrats. There are about 823,965 more meaningful ways to make a sacrifice, but at least you’re a martyr in your own mind.

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