In Memory of Stephen Reynolds
On New Year’s Eve, former Republican candidate for Carroll County Commissioner District 1 Stephen Reynolds fell into the Chesapeake Bay. Although his body has not been recovered, the cold water temperatures leaves little doubt to his passing. It was only 3 days before his birthday, and he would have been 49 today. He is survived by his wife Dr. Cheryl Reynolds and his daughters Hannah and Olivia.
I did not know Stephen well, but such a passing should not go without comment, and I am surprised that there has not been a local mention of this tragedy.
In 2010, Carroll County elected commissioners from 5 districts, an abrupt change from the 3 commissioner at-large system of previous years. I worked on many campaigns at the local level, including District 1, my home district that stretches across northern Carroll County. Stephen had a strong showing in the Republican primary but did not win.
For a rural district, there were many candidates for the Republican nomination, but Stephen was the only farmer. He had horses like my family, and there were many times that we conversed on the topic. It was a tough year with many candidates that stood out. However, regional politics won the election: the western portion only had one candidate while the eastern portion split between the local candidates.
Stephen had some great ideas, and he really wanted to help the community. He was a transplant into the region, like so many others, but he grew up with horses and farming in Greenville, North Carolina. He came to Carroll County because he wanted his daughters to enjoy the same rural experience and values that he had as a kid. After he moved here, he retired from a career in staffing to devote himself to working on the farm. He was an avid eventer and shower, and he enjoyed sailing the bay.
When he ran for office, he wanted farmers to be respected. Once part of Carroll County’s proud tradition, farmers are now neglected or ignored. Many county residents want to transform the region into suburban sprawl, and farmers are rarely given the support necessary to help them pass on the rural tradition to their children. Stephen wanted to fix that, but farmers have been mistreated for so long that they often mistrust politicians in general.
The problem that Stephen wanted to address was ultimately his downfall; the farmers thought that if they became political they might suffer even worse consequences, and many of those I grew up with refused to become active in any regard, even by putting up signs. Too many candidates and strong competition ultimately won out, but this did not deter Stephen; he pushed on and started a write-in campaign, fighting for the people the whole time.
I never heard from Stephen after the general election; like many failed candidates, he seemed deterred from politics. Many supporters and non-supporters alike wished he would continue to stay active in local matters and fight for the values that so many seem to willfully ignore.
It was shocking to hear the news of his passing. I only heard of the incident via a television station that briefly mentioned it. My own local newspaper failed to report it, and there have been very few comments on Facebook. This is an ignoble end to a man who fought to uphold the core values of the county.
In conversations with those who knew him from the campaign, we all agreed that he was a good man and this is quite a loss. His passing deserves to be mentioned and his efforts to be recognized.