Candidate for Hoke County Board of Commissioners
1. Please tell voters a little about yourself, your background, and experience.
I grew up farming in a rural county in south Florida, much like Hoke County, where I was a member of 4H and FFA and raised show steers for the county and State fairs. I joined the Army at age 18 as a Combat Engineer and later served in Military Intelligence retiring as a First Sergeant (1SG) in 2015 after 25 years of service. Throughout my career, I was given progressing levels of responsibility ranging from direct training, and mentoring of Soldiers, and leading them in multiple combat deployments, to serving as the Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Intelligence directorate on a General Officer Staff. I have experience managing policy and Standard Operations Procedures writing and implementation, and as a Federal Contracting Officer Representative writing budgets and managing the execution of multi-million dollar contracts. My Wife of 27 years and I became Hoke county residents purchasing a home in 1999 upon our return from a tour in Alaska, and in 2008 became full time residents with my last assignment to Ft. Bragg.
2. Why are you running for the commission?
Having witnessed the tremendous growth the county has experienced in the last 20 years, I am aware that the expansion has been uneven and left resident’s opportunities for a superior education and access to high-paying (blue-collar) jobs behind. The county needs fresh ideas and creative thinking to find solutions that will focus on our education standards and provide the School Board with the funding and tools required to reach a graduation rate closer to 100% rather than the 87% we currently have. I can provide those ideas and focus to create an environment attractive to industry and help our children achieve to their maximum potential.
3. If elected for an upcoming four-year term, what are some of the things you hope to accomplish?
I will ensure that we continue to upgrade our infrastructure, including utilities and broadband access. I will approach planning and zoning approvals with a focus on a future where residents of Hoke County can work at a job here in the county that provides a comfortable wage while sending their children to a first in the nation education system and able to spend their free time in local entertainment venues. I will work with our Federal and State Representatives to address the orphaned/private roads in the county with an aim to incorporate every road in Hoke County into the State system to ensure adequate maintenance. Congressman Dan Bishop and I discussed the needs of the county and he is eager to work with us to address our lingering needs from the Federal level. I look forward to implementing ideas and plans that will lead Hoke County into a prosperous future for all our residents.
4. As a commissioner, what will you do going forward to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Hoke County?
I will push to reopen our businesses as quickly as possible. We have learned a lot about Covid-19 in the last 6 months and feel that Entrepreneurs can implement appropriate preventive protocols to operate their establishments safely. Based on a personal risk assessment and individual circumstances, a consumer should have the freedom to shop, eat and exercise where they chose is safe due to their own circumstances. A sweeping “shutdown” does not benefit our economy and will lead to a shuttering of business and the financial turmoil of lost jobs that entails.
5. As a commissioner, how will you encourage economic growth in Hoke?
We must take full advantage of the recently enacted Opportunity Zone legislation and assist local business owners in growing their operations. We will attract larger corporations with our low tax rates and continually adjust the tax rate as the base expands with a future goal of further reducing our overall property tax rate.
6. Would you support funding a new high school? What about other county-funded construction projects?
My understanding is that the current High school is overcrowded and a solution must be found, whether it is building an additional campus or renovating and expanding our current campus. As for funding, the Federal government provides grants and loans to school systems that face unique circumstances, of which Hoke County falls into two such categories: a large population of military affiliated children and rural communities. The Federal government also provides exemption of earned interest on state and local bonds sold for the purpose of school construction, modernization, renovation, and repair. We will explore all avenues of funding before asking property owners to pay a higher tax rate to fund a new school. I will push to make use of Federal programs that provide incentives to encourage the development of charter schools. I believe the parents of the county must have multiple options to find the solution that is best for their children. As for other taxpayer funded projects, a test must be applied that measures the purpose and benefit to the community vs. the cost and will be decided based on the most cost-effective option (including not building) for the tax payer.
7. Hoke County currently has a property tax rate of 73 cents per $100, and in recent years the county’s General Fund balance has grown to over $27 million. What steps would you support in managing the county’s finances from here?
I believe that 6 months of county expenses held in reserve is too much money sitting on the sidelines. Ninety days of expenditures is more than adequate, the remaining funds need to be put to work to encourage public-private incentives focused on job generation or used to immediately begin upgrading the utilities in our currently zoned commercial zones. For the future, I intend to pursue initiatives that will grow our tax base with a focus on limiting the growth of government expenditures. We can accomplish some of these objectives by contracting out services that are not a core function of government. Contracting in turns provides opportunities for small business creation and keeps the long-term expenses of hiring public servants to a minimum. As we attract multimillion- dollar industries to the county, land values will naturally increase therefore enabling us to collect more taxes at an even lower rate. The lower we push overall tax rates the more attractive we become as a destination for more and more businesses.
8. Is there anything else you would like for voters to know about your views and goals?
Hoke county is a beautiful spot of North Carolina full of hardworking wonderful people. I want to work for the residents of the county to provide an even better community in which to live, work, raise kids and play. A vote for me is a vote for a transparent government, I believe that fiscal responsibility is the foundation of good governance, I will always approach spending decisions with the knowledge that taxes paid is your money not mine, and any money spent has to be in the best interest of those who’ve provided the money. I am upfront and honest, you will always know where I stand, while we might not always agree, I am always open to a discussion on the future of the county and how we together can make it better. I will not pander for votes, I believe that someone seeking a position to represent you has to lay out their intentions and invite a critical assessment by those who will be effected by the decisions made. I welcome that feedback and discussion and ask for your vote on November 3rd.
9. If you have one, please provide a link to your campaign website or Facebook page that we can share with voters.