Raeford City Council candidates answer questions

Raeford City Council candidates answer questions

The News-Journal asked all nine candidates running for Raeford City Council questions about why they’re seeking office, what they want to achieve and their thoughts on local issues. Read on to learn more about the people hoping to become Raeford’s next city council members. Voters will be able to select three new council members this year.

The city council is a nonpartisan board that typically meets once a month at Raeford City Hall, and makes decisions on how to use Raeford city tax money. The city council sets the city tax rate and water and sewer rates, oversees the local parks inside the city limit, makes decisions on rezoning and other planning matters inside the city, and works with county and state elected officials on various issues – among other responsibilities.

The nine Raeford City Council candidates are Joshua Bain, Johnny Boyles, Cathy Brown, David Conoly, Shirley Hart, Jackie McLean, Ricky Sandy, Charles Tapp and Shelley Wilburn.

Question 1: Please share a little about your background: where you’re from, your education, career, anything about your family you’d like people to know.

Joshua Bain: Bain is the owner of Sasquatch Real Estate, which boasts a track record of having sold over 600 homes – including more than 160 since the start of the year – totaling about $38 million in real estate sales. He and his wife have been married for five years and have two dogs, Toby and Gunther. He describes himself as having “good Christian faith” and says he really likes Raeford, calling it a pleasure to move here three years ago from Fayetteville.

Johnny Boyles: Boyles was born in Hoke County. He attended Hoke County High School and graduated with the Class of 1970. He went to study at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke for two years. Then, “the farm was calling me, so I went into farming,” he said. He has worked with cotton, grain, tobacco and other crops. When getting close to retirement, he went into real estate with two partners and began working to put new shops in at a Fayetteville shopping center. He has many years of experience in the realm of business. Boyles, along with his business partners, purchased Upland Trace golf course in Arabia. The business suffered when Hurricane Matthew destroyed the twin bridges, and the golf course was forced to close after Rockfish Creek washouts. Boyles continues working in development, mostly commercial development. He previously ran for election seeking office as Hoke County Sheriff.

Cathy Brown: Brown graduated from high school in Durham. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from St. Andrews and a master’s degree from North Carolina State University. She married a local farmer and moved to Raeford in the early 1980s. She works for N.C. State and Hoke County as a 4-H agent at the Cooperative Extension, and has been in the position for nearly 30 years. She was involved with the North Carolina Turkey Festival, now the Fall Festival, for 15 years. She sits on the Raeford planning board and has been a board member for 12 years.

David Conoly: Conoly was born and raised in Hoke County. He graduated from Hoke High in 1982. He attended East Carolina University and graduated with a degree in business and finance. He began working in banking and has remained in the field for 36 years.

Conoly began his career with Central Carolina Bank in Greensboro, and returned to Raeford in 1987. He began working at what was at the time United Carolina Bank, which became BB&T and today is known as Truist. Conoly retired in January of 2023, and now is working with First Bank.

Shirley Hart: Hart is the director of the Tia Hart Community Recovery Program in Raeford. She is the mother of six, including her late daughter, Tia Hart. She is also the adoptive mother of two. She attended school in Brooklyn, New York, and later completed drug and alcohol training at Duke University, and pursued continuing education. She has served on the board of Sandhills Mental Health and works with the Faces and Voices of Recovery program.

Jackie McLean: McLean was born in Raeford and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and administrative planning. She discovered a love for working with children when she did an internship as a youth coordinator specialist with the New York Police Department, where she worked with youth ages 7-18 to provide intervention and help turn things around for them. She later went to work with Legal Aid in both civil and criminal areas. After moving back to North Carolina, she began working with Hoke County Schools as dropout prevention coordinator. She was one of the first volunteers to become guardian ad litem in Hoke County, serving for over 26 years to be a voice for children in the legal system. She also previously worked part-time at Hoke County DSS with the energy assistance program.

Ricky Sandy: Sandy grew up in Raeford and graduated from Hoke County High School. He attended Wilson Tech. After going into the workforce, he spent his early career in the construction business. He went into the insurance business when he was 28 years old, and through his career in insurance, he has been to many, many schools to pursue further education. He worked for North Carolina Farm Bureau for 34 years, and during that time also dabbled in the construction and rental business. He has been involved in many community efforts, including Relay for Life in Hoke County, the Chamber of Commerce, Jaycees, and other organizations. He has been a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) for decades.

Charles Tapp: Tapp grew up in Raeford. He graduated from Hoke County High School in 1976. He has worked in the electrical and construction field for many years. He went back to school to earn his licensure and is a licensed electrician, plumber, wastewater operator and pesticide operator. He holds many certifications. He has served with the fire department for over 42 years, including several years as fire chief. He has two brothers who both live in Raeford. He attends Hillcrest Baptist Church where he has been a member for over 30 years. He retired from Hoke County Schools, where he worked for 30 years.

Shelley Wilburn: Wilburn earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which was then Pembroke State University, in criminal justice and sociology. She worked with the District Attorney’s office, served with the Raeford Police Department and then went into teaching. She and her husband owned downtown businesses that suffered in the economic downturn of 2008 and during the COVID pandemic. She is currently in her 15th year of teaching exceptional children at Hoke County High School. She is married and has two children and three grandchildren.

Question 2: Do you meet all the requirements to run for city council?

Bain: Yes

Boyles: Yes

Brown: Yes

Conoly: Yes, he lives in the city of Raeford on Magnolia Street

Hart: Yes

McLean: I do

Sandy: “I feel like I do; my business background and my civic service. I’ve never run for public office, ever.”

Tapp: “Yes. I’m old enough for sure.”

Wilburn: I do

Question 3: What experience do you have that prepared you to serve on the city council?

Bain: His extensive experience in overseeing real estate transactions, which, over his career, is about $80 million. “That has provided me with valuable insight into property values. I am dedicated to safeguarding and enhancing property values by rigorously upholding our standards: cleanliness, aesthetic appeal, things like that. Make sure our property values stay high.”

Boyles: “I have the expertise to work with employees and department heads. I have a history of getting along with people.”

Brown: Brown took an early interest in citizenship when she took a class on the subject as a middle school student. The class got the students involved in their community. She helped work on a political campaign at a young age and worked with even younger students on their reading and literacy. “It taught us the importance of giving back to our community,” she said. She has pursued opportunities such as the Turkey Festival and the planning board as ways to serve others.

Conoly: “My background in banking, finance. Understanding the financials, that’s probably a key point. Understanding what we need. Of course, that background gives me experience in working with people every day. I work with business owners, and I work with individuals on a day-to-day basis, so that’s probably the biggest thing there.”

Hart: She has served on the Sandhills Mental Health board, and on the Hoke County United Way board. She was the chair for the Southeastern Family Service. She has also served with the Open Door Soup Kitchen, Hope in Hoke advisory board and the Hoke County Partnership for Children.

McLean: She has been a big advocate of community, McLean said. “I believe if I am going to be part of a community, I need to be a positive part of the community. If I see something I don’t think is fair or right, I’m going to speak up about it.” She brings approachability to the table as a candidate for city council, McLean said. Leaders should be able to listen and put people’s needs at the forefront. She is also a visible face who’s “been here serving the whole time.”

Sandy: As a part of NAIFA, Sandy served in many capacities and worked to lobby in Congress in the Senate in Washington, D.C. regarding issues facing consumers and the insurance industry. He is a past member of the FirstHealth Hoke hospital campus advisory board, and is currently president of the Partners for Hoke County School Education Foundation. “I’ve spent pretty much my life trying to give back, trying to help and do what I could.”

Tapp: Tapp said he’s done a lot in the community. He’s served on the Chamber of Commerce, as chairman of the city board of adjustments, on the board of directors for the Raeford-Hoke Museum and on the board of directors of the N.C. Turkey Festival, today known as the Fall Festival. He worked with the school system on building Sandy Grove Middle School, a first of its kind at the time, and has worked to get new fire trucks for the fire department with one new one being built now.

“I’ve always been a community-involved person. I like to see things prosper; I like to see things grow. I like to know, in the back of my mind – I don’t try to get credit for anything, but I like knowing in the back of my mind that I helped push this, that I helped keep it going.”

Wilburn: Wilburn previously served six years on the Raeford City Council. She has also chaired a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Hoke County Partnership for Families and Children, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, the Domestic Violence Center and the Southcentral 4-H horse club.

Question 4: Why did you decide to run for city council?

Bain: Bain said he decided to run for city council because it aligns with his business, and to help represent his neighbors in Raeford, in hopes of improving the city. One neighbor in particular brought an issue to his attention, regarding trucks driving through a residential area of the city.

“I am involved with real estate on a daily basis, and of course, live in the heart of Raeford, so it aligns with my business. But also, really to be a voice to my neighbors. It really started with a conversation with one of my neighbors, Mr. Stanley across the street, about the transfer trucks coming down right in front of our homes, and how there is a truck route for our trucks that is not enforced. I was like, ‘how are we supposed to do something about that?’ And you know city council is a wonderful way to effect change. So for me, it’s about being part of the conversation of the community that I live, and bringing that knowledge that I have, and imparting that to help improve the city.”

Boyles: A number of friends and supporters encouraged Boyles to run for office. The late Frank Crumpler was the “main encourager” who supported Boyles in seeking election to the Raeford City Council. “I’m not really a politician. I’m a business man, I feel like that’s something the city council needs.”

Brown: She plans to retire soon and sought to run for the city office to continue to have an outlet to dedicate her time to the community. She enjoys working with the city planning board to make decisions. When three incumbent council members chose not to run for re-election, it seemed like the right time. “Three of them are retiring, so I said, let me step up to the plate and see what happens.”

Conoly: Conoly said he wanted to run for city council because he wants to serve the community, as several of his family members have. He has also been a volunteer firefighter in the city for over 20 years. Running for city council is “something I think I should do,” he said.

“I grew up here, and of course my family background with my uncle serving – both my uncles really. My uncle Jimmy, who has passed, and my uncle Bobby has been on the board of education and the city council. It’s just a matter of trying to continue on that service,” he said.

Hart: Hart decided to run for city council because she has a deep passion for it. “Being a citizen of Raeford, I looked around and saw some of the needs, and want to see where I can make a difference.”

McLean: McLean noted she previously ran for city council in 2015, but feels more prepared now. Before her mother passed away in 2014, they had discussed her running for local office. “What’s important to me is to see where there’s opportunities to spawn more growth, see where there is opportunity to become more inclusive. Because again, I see that in the community, there are certain areas of our community that seems to be cared for more than others. And if we’re talking about making a community where everybody feels welcome, or where everyone is thriving and we’re progressing, I think for that to happen, we have to be totally inclusive in terms of how we serve. On the city council, I think I can do that.”

Sandy: With three incumbents choosing not to run for re-election, Sandy felt it was a good time to seek a seat on the city council. “I don’t feel like we have a big problem in the city…there’s not going to be any bashing of what’s going on, because we’ve got a neat little town. I want it to stay that way. I think that I, along with the others, can help make that happen.”

Tapp: The candidatehad been thinking of running for quite some time, but due to his brother holding a position as a city department head, he had been told he couldn’t run. “Then they read the laws again, the statute again, and I was told it was if he was the city manager, I couldn’t run. This is the first opportunity I’ve actually had to run, but I had been thinking about it.”

Tapp said he wasn’t looking to oust any of the sitting members, but decided to run when the opportunity came up with three members choosing not to run for re-election.

“The city has done very well over the years, I’ve watched things they’ve purchased, I’ve watched how the city has grown, but it still keeps a small-town feel about things and I’d like to continue that.”

Wilburn: When she saw that three incumbents were not going to seek re-election, “that pretty much was the catalyst for her to run. “They were mentors of mine during my tenure on the council, and really I would be honored to continue with what they have already started, follow through with their projects, and apply what I’ve learned from them to current needs that are going on in the city.”

Question 5: If you’re elected, what do you hope to achieve?

Bain: A truck route is a top priority. “The transfer trucks coming down 211 right on Prospect (Avenue), they’re hitting those breaks, and it makes a lot of noise but it also degrades our streets, and it also makes the walkability lower. People are not quite as likely to walk if they know those transfer trucks are going to be so close to them.” Making downtown more conducive for pedestrian traffic means people are more likely to come down and spend their dollars locally, Bain said.

Boyles: Boyles has worked with companies like McDonalds, IHOP and TLC car wash, and he hopes to be able to bring more businesses to the city, such as Chik-fil-A. If elected, he wants to meet with all the city department heads. “I want to know everyone who works for the city, and have them give me some insight into what Raeford needs to do.” He hopes to speak with store owners and business leaders in Raeford, because they need to have input into the future of Raeford. Keeping taxes down is another priority.

Brown: She hopes to represent the city fairly. “I think I’ve done so on the planning board. I’ve really enjoyed that, and it’s helped me get to know a lot more people.”

Conoly: “Probably the biggest thing is I know the city has to grow. We’re expanding, there’s no doubt about that. The county’s expanding, it’s probably attracting more people into the city. Trying to help the downtown area expand to grow with whatever we can do, but still trying to keep that small town feel about it. We’ve got to do smart growth; ensure we grow smartly.”

Hart: The candidate said she plans to prioritize improving facilities and create more job opportunities. “I’m also committed to ensuring transparency in the local government and promoting sustainability for safeguards for the environment for future generations. I believe in strengthening our communities and hearing the voices of the citizen, not just one but all voices of the citizens.”

McLean: The candidate said she hopes to achieve a level of relationship with Raeford residents where constituents feel comfortable talking with her on a day-to-day basis. “It’s our responsibility to go where the needs are,” she said. McLean said she believes she’s good at going into communities and letting people know she’s there and wants to hear citizens’ concerns and needs. “I don’t expect to have all of the answers, but I know collectively and collaboratively, a solid council board, we can work things out to make sure everyone’s interests are being met.”

Sandy: Continuing and improving on the small-town feel and atmosphere of Raeford is a goal of Sandy’s. There is always room to improve to make things better, the candidate said. “We need to, of course, continue to find ways that we can improve our little town.”

Tapp: There are several things he’d like to see move forward, including public safety. In the near future he would like to see round-the-clock paid fire department staff. There are good volunteers, but having paid staff is important because Raeford is growing. It may take several years to do it but needs to start somewhere, Tapp said.

Wilburn: Besides completing projects that are already in motion, Wilburn would like to support city employees, work collaboratively with county officials and local organizations. Improving several aspects of the city is another thing she’d like to take on as a council member. “I’d like to see some of the sidewalks connected, work on some of the parking issues that we do have in downtown. But I’m here for the community, not for financial gain, or to have my name on a public building or a plaque.”

Question 6: If elected, what will you do to stay connected with your constituents?

Bain: Bain said he would use technology such as social media posts and video updates to share information, as well as public meetings and other traditional outlets to make sure people are able to reach him.

Boyles: The candidate knows a lot of Raeford residents already, and wants to get citizens’ input to “how they make it tick each day,” and to listen to what they have to say. He noted he also wants to hear input from the three city council members who are leaving the board this year. “I want to learn from them and go in the same direction.”

Brown: “I’m not a very shy person, I’m very extroverted, so everybody’s my friend. Getting involved with the community, I’ve gotten to know so many people. With my job, I’ve gotten to know so many youth through 4-H. It really helps.”

Conoly: Staying in contact with people is part of what Conoly does every day. He walks downtown and speaks with business owners, and can be reached by cell phone, and will have an email where people can contact him. He’s also visible attending church. “I can always be reached if need be,” he said.

Hart: She would be open to people contacting her, and plans to maintain an active online presence with social media platforms. Her office is always open so people can contact her, “and to ensure that every citizen’s views are heard.”

McLean: Visibility is a big part of McLean’s approach. “I can’t advocate for what I don’t know, and I can’t advocate for who I don’t know, so visibility is critical for me in terms of building relationships and building connections and building communications with the constituents.”

Sandy: What he does right now: he plans to attend all the city functions that he can. “I’m pretty easy to get up with. You might have to leave me a message, but I’ll get back to you.”

Tapp: The candidate said he’s not one to shy away from conversation. He likes to walk in the city and talk to people. He knows many people from his growing up in Raeford, and from attending local functions and through his work with the Chamber of Commerce. “I just like to talk,” he said.

Wilburn: During her prior council service, she would arrive early before city council meetings so citizens could meet with her in person. She plans to continue that if re-elected to the office. She also attends local events and works at the high school; it’s common to see her around town if constituents want to talk with her.

Question 7: Please share a little of your thoughts about the following issues relevant to Raeford.

•What are your thoughts on housing growth, land use and residential development in the city?

Bain: The candidate said he’s excited about the growth that Raeford and Hoke County have been seeing, as it’s a lot of new dollars coming into the city. But, he also wants to “preserve the look and the feel of the classic, traditional Raeford.”

“One of the ways I think we can do this is by limiting the lot sizes for new construction. A lot of what is happening right now – in Cumberland County, they made lot size limits. You can only build a house (on a lot) if it’s this big, it must be at least this big. But that’s not the case over here. You can build a home on a point-one-zero, point-one-five lot. So some of these developers are coming in, buying a home that’s on like point-four. They’re chopping that lot in half, and putting a new construction right there. So, they’re cramming houses in there. Do we want those houses crammed in and stacked on top? In my opinion, no, we don’t, so I would say lot size limits is something we definitely need to look at, so we don’t have houses stacked on top of each other.”

Boyles: Boyles said he would work to encourage wise use of undeveloped land in Raeford. “We need to have wise decisions for its future use.” He pointed to people who have been buying and fixing up existing houses for sale in Raeford, saying they deserve a pat on the back. “It just really is helping Raeford.” He would like to look at what’s going on in the region and improve upon that. Making sure to consider utilities such as water use, and taking other infrastructure needs into account is important.

Brown: Being on the planning board, she’s up to date with all the recent developments in Raeford. “We’re always constantly having things come up. I know the city’s kind of running out of land to build on and everything. The county has a whole also going on. It’s one of the fastest-growing counties in the state of North Carolina.”

Conoly: Conoly emphasized a need for smart growth, and a mix of residential and commercial development. Getting newcomers to the county to visit downtown Raeford is also a goal.

“We’ve got to make sure we incorporate multifamily a little bit, low income. Still got to have the residential, because that’s what we are, we’re a small town, but put in the commercial because we’ve got to be able to attract those businesses. Particularly 401, on the bypass, that’s probably the primary area for business growth. Downtown, if there’s a way to attract people more to downtown, especially the residents that are moving in to the county. The county has people moving in every day, and there are people that live along the Moore County line or Cumberland County line that have never been to downtown Raeford. You’ve got to find a way to come visit it, whether it be through the downtown Christmas events or the Fall Festival, stuff like that.”

Hart: Hart said she understand and respects the need to maintain balance in a growing community. She hopes to nurture economic growth while accommodating the growing population, while maintaining the charm and character of Raeford. “I believe in strategy, planning, residential development and natural environment, and the community requirement. I also would advocate for mixed use developments and promote community interactions, and reduce commute times” with an eye to sustainability.

McLean: McLean feels housing in Raeford is necessary, and comes with growth. She spoke to the need for affordable housing. “Not everybody can afford a $300,000 home, and based on the median income for our city, everybody can’t afford that, and I think working class people, people who get up and go to work every day should be able to buy a home. And homes that are being built, are necessary, but I don’t want us to just build homes in one region and forget about another region.” The candidate also expressed concern for housing for homeless individuals in Raeford.

Sandy: “That’s something we need to be very careful of. Far be it for me to deny somebody the privilege of living in our good little town, our neat little town, but especially the density issue – I’ll just go ahead and say it, I’m not an advocate of to turn Raeford into Fayetteville. Nothing against Fayetteville, but it’s just a little more crowded than what I’m comfortable with. But can we grow? Of course we can. I think we need to grow very carefully.”

Tapp: “We’re running out of a lot of land in Raeford as far as the city goes. The outer areas of the city are growing some…land growth and development of that type, residential, as long as it’s correctly done, and I mean correctly done, I don’t have a problem with it. You’ve got to grow or you get stale. But you don’t want to cram a whole lot of houses in a small area. Make sure you give people enough room to spread their wings, so to say. I don’t like houses being 50 feet apart, and that’s basically what it is, 25 feet off the property line. You need to get these lots big enough that you can put a house in the center of it and have enough room, and then you’ve got some nice neighborhoods.”

Wilburn: Wilburn said she’s glad that Raeford is not moving at as fast a pace as the county is, because it puts more pressure on the schools. “When you talk about 400 houses being built, how many students does that bring into our schools? I mean, we’re already overwhelmed as it is. But I do want to see some growth, I just don’t agree with certain eyesores or structures that have been constructed or attached to real property here in the city, but I do know if people meet requirements for state law and local ordinances, our hands are tied as a council, we can’t violate someone’s rights because we don’t agree with someone’s aesthetics or how they utilize their property.” Reviewing the local ordinances to confirm that they are up to date with statute is something the city council can do, along with reviewing the city’s long and short-term planning goals, Wilburn said.

•As a council member, how would you support local businesses?

Bain: Bain said he takes pride in being a patron of many local businesses, and goes “the extra mile” by using his social media presence to support those businesses. He often shares posts from local businesses on his own social platforms to spread the word. Bringing more dollars in to local businesses also means the money stays local, and can help keep taxes low.

Boyles: “Raeford has a lot of businesses to be proud of.” He does business in Raeford, and spends money at local businesses. He would encourage all residents of Hoke County to come to downtown to shop in Raeford.

Brown: Brown said she’s always supported local businesses. It’s important to shop local, she said.

Conoly: Conoly said that he likes to encourage people to shop locally in Raeford.

“I say, have you been to Raeford Hardware downtown, instead of going to Lowes? Or Home Food or someplace like that. Just go by and see them. And, people that come through Raeford stop. They’re surprised what is down in these small towns. And of course, the expansion, hopefully we’ll get some more restaurants that will draw people downtown.”

Hart: The candidate said she would work toward creating policies that would nurture local businesses. Advocating for low taxes, facilitating business development resources and simplifying the license and permit process to make sure they’re within the local codes. “I would support public-private partnerships that can provide financial and logical supports to the local businesses, and that the city, we stand behind local enterprises and help them navigate challenges and help celebrate success.”

McLean: Local business is what brings about economic development and keeps Raeford booming, McLean said. “I think we should always support what local businesses bring. For one thing, in a small place like this, these local businesses are persons who are providing scholarships, these are persons who are employing others, that’s how we maintain sustainable economics through employability. Many of these small businesses are doing what our state sometimes can’t do. They are providing an economy for the city.” It’s important for the city council to apply for grants to help further small businesses.

Sandy: Shopping where you live is something Sandy has always done, he said. “Spend your sales tax dollars where you live is a smart thing to do. We need to promote the businesses in Raeford and Hoke County, we need to grow them. We need to help them, and of course, most importantly, support them. I’ve done that for years, and if there’s anything in the world that I can buy here, I definitely don’t go elsewhere to buy it.”

Tapp: As a member of the Chamber, he works to support local businesses, and if the city can help local businesses, they should in whatever way it can.

He would also like to see more places open in the evening that people can visit.

Wilburn: She would continue supporting the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Office, and Downtown Raeford Business Association. “They do an outstanding job of promoting events and businesses in the city.” Having conversations about increasing the number of parking locations in the central business district, and supplying public restrooms downtown for shoppers might also be something to consider. Creating business incubators would also support local business endeavors.

•What do you think of the recently adopted parks master plan and the city’s recreation options in general?

Bain: He thinks the parks plan is “wonderful,” and is happy to see the city investing in the parks.

Boyles: Thanks to the work with the parks master plan, “Our youth are going to have many opportunities right here in Raeford to enjoy our parks.” He noted the plan for the park off of Highway 20 would allow citizens a chance to enjoy walking around the pond and being in nature.

Brown: The candidate said she’s glad to see money go back into recreation, including at the property the city bought some years ago that contains a pond. Turning that property into a park is a good thing, as is having more recreation options in general, Brown said. “Our youth really need it.”

Conoly: Conoly did the survey for the parks master plan. He likes the plan overall, and that the city will focus on McLauchlin Park first. “That is our primary park, that’s the one everyone comes to, along with Robbins Heights, expanding that one,” he said.

The candidate said he was in favor of working on one park at a time. The park planned for the pond may take a while to complete, he said.

“It’s going to be costly, none of this is going to be cheap, and make sure we spend the citizens’ dollars very wisely. In the past my uncle and the past board members have been very cautious about how they spend the money, because the town is in great shape.”

Hart: Hart said she wholeheartedly supports the parks plan. “I think it’s great that we can expand with our parks and making sure that all parks are taken care of, helping old as well as young, and making it a safe place.”

McLean: The plan is “long overdue” and an initiative that would bring about more inclusivity, such as at the Robbins Heights park. “I am loving it, I can’t wait for the finished product,” she said. Residents should be able to feel safe and welcome at the parks, McLean said.

Sandy: Sandy said the city’s parks plan is a wonderful idea, though there is still some work beyond that to be done. “Is it all we need to do for the future? No, but I think it’s a great plan from what I understand the plan is to do. I think it’ll be really neat, and I think it will be really beneficial to the residents.”

Tapp: The candidate is in favor of making improvements at the parks, especially to have places for youth to have something to do. “If you’ve got some place for them to go and some things for them to do, you’re going to grow a better group of people, and make them enjoy their town and be proud of it.”

Wilburn: Wilburn said she absolutely loves the parks master plan. As a potential council member, she’s excited to carry on the projects that were already started, especially the pond project. “I think that would be amazing for our city.”

•As a council member, how would you support public safety?

Bain: A top priority, going back to safety and walkability. “Also making sure the police have access to all the resources that they need and really supporting the local police department. We can do that by grants, money, but really by talking with them and connecting with them and seeing what they need from us.”

Boyles: The candidate would work to keep the Raeford Police Department up-to-date with the equipment they need to do their job, to keep the streets safe. He would like to work with the police department on the issue of public littering, and consider making signs about littering to try and help keep Raeford looking beautiful. “We have the finest personnel in the state and the best fire department.”

Brown: Brown said she would support the local public safety office and encourage law enforcement and community members to get to know each other. “My thing is, make sure they get out and get to know the community and people get to know them, it’s very important. Because once you know somebody, you don’t feel like you’re a stranger, and you know what’s going on.”

Conoly: Conoly is on the fire department, and as far as the police department goes, “(Chief) Marc (Godwin) and them do a great job. It’s just making sure as the town grow and our city limits grow and the population grows, that we expand the services needed and as we can support them.”

The fire department is pushing a point now where they’re going to need to look at the potential for hiring paid staff, he said. “You don’t see volunteers like you used to,” Conoly said.

Hart: Working closely with local law enforcement to make sure the community is educated, and that policies are in place, and making sure that the city secures funding for law enforcement, are parts of Hart’s plans. “Our law enforcement needs to be expanded a little bit, so to make sure that there is funding there for them, to help them do what they need to do to make us safe.”

McLean: McLean has been leading an initiative this year to bring a program called “violence interrupters” to Hoke County to train citizens in preventing violent crime in the community. Through the Hoke NAACP, she has collaboratively worked with the Raeford Police Department and Hoke County Sheriff’s Office on the project.“I recognize, just as a citizen first and foremost, that we were inundated with crime, drive-bys, and it seemed like it just kept escalating. It seemed like every week, something was happening, and then on top of that, we had all of these deaths, young men.”

“How do we as a community come together to put an end to this, how do we reclaim our communities and restore peace? So, I created that initiative.”

Sandy: Supporting public safety is “one of the most important things,” the candidate said. Supporting the Raeford Police Department and Hoke County Sheriff’s Office are key. Looking at issues such as traffic situations that could endanger children is also important, Sandy said. “I would do anything that I can within my power and the council’s power to do that.”

Tapp: Public safety is a big thing because “even if you have a perfect world, you still have some issues,” he said. The police department, fire department, EMS are on call all the time and people can access services by picking up the phone. He has worked to bring new fire trucks to the fire department and is in favor of hiring full-time staff.

Wilburn: “I believe that our first responders require the most up-to-date equipment that there is, so that they can be proactive and reactive for our safety. That’s what they’re there for, they need the tools that are most up-to-date to combat crime, and to assist others with health issues.” That might mean a new fire truck, equipment for the police department – “whatever they need.”

•Are there any city departments or agencies that you feel could benefit from changes, and if so, what would you like to see happen?

Bain: The candidate (at the time of the interview) was in the process of meeting with local groups, including the rescue squad, to discuss needs. “It’s really about being an ear to them, making sure essential equipment is there.” Possibly having police ticket truck drivers who aren’t using the truck route could be a source of income for local departments, without raising taxes, he noted.

Boyles: Boyles said he would like to sit down and talk with city department heads to see what the needs might be and if it would make sense to spend money on addressing any issues.

Brown: It’s important to work to have growth continue to take place, she said.

Conoly: Conoly said he didn’t see any departments that might need major changes. “Then again, I’m not sitting on the city council, so I don’t see the inside workings of what’s going on with any city department. Initially I’m thinking we just leave things as they are, the city manager primarily takes care of most of that anyway, so unless something major comes up, I’d say probably leave things as they are at the present time.”

Hart: All departments can be a little improved, and as Raeford’s population grows, certain areas in each department may need improvements, Hart said. She advocates for using green technology to address citizens’ needs, and is for working toward streamlining processes and reducing bureaucracy.

McLean: McLean said “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” but that she would address problems if they arose by talking with employees and working with the other council members. The candidate said she’s spoken with citizens and from her discussions with them, hopes to help residents feel they’ve been heard when they speak at city council meetings. “They want an opportunity to walk in and walk out feeling like they’ve been heard.”

Sandy: There’s always room for improvement, but there aren’t any departments in the city that are having severe problems.

Tapp: Tapp noted the city has recently purchased some new trucks for trash pickup. “They do an excellent job keeping this town, the city clean and moving.” Everything can always stand a little bit of a facelift, he said. “I don’t know how our recycling program is going these days, I’ve heard some good and some bad about it, but I would like to see that continue on because we need to do more recycling in this country and this whole world.”

Wilburn: Not at this time. On the outside it appears the city runs very well. There are some drainage issues that need to be worked on. “Just going in and saying oh I want to change this or change that, that’s not it at all, because I think it’s running really well. We’ve had a great council thus far, and they’re doing a great job. We’ll just have to look and see what their needs are, and what the community needs.”

Question 8: What’s your favorite thing about Raeford?

Bain: He really likes the small-town feel and the kindness of people. “I love going to Home Food Mart, it’s just, those types of stores don’t exist in America as much anymore. So, I think our people, our culture of Raeford, as we do things like the Turkey Festival, I think we have a good spirit, and my campaign slogan is ‘be a good neighbor.’ I picked that slogan because I believe a lot of people around here can connect with that, because I believe a majority of the people around here are good neighbors.”

Boyles: There are many things that are his favorite about Raeford: the residents, the churches, the Chamber of Commerce is one of the “best around.” Its location between the mountains and the beach is perfect. He loves the Raeford-Hoke Museum and the events held downtown. “The Fall Festival is one of the best events we’ve ever had.”

“Our schools, teachers and churches are an asset of Hoke County also, we’re proud of that.”

Brown: Her favorite thing about Raeford is feeling that she’s part of the city. “I was a part of Durham, but not the big picture. Being active and involved in Raeford, I feel like I am part of Raeford and Raeford’s part of me. I know so many people, and that really helps.”

Conoly: Having grown up here, his favorite part of Raeford is its small-town feel.

“Everybody’s very friendly, everybody gets along well, there’s no major issues going on in this town that you really see on a day-to-day basis.”

Hart: It’s a quiet community. “We get along, we connect and support one another. If you just wake up early in the morning and just feel the warmth of Raeford…even at times looking at the sunset and the people in the park, just riding around Raeford, period, and looking at the beauty of Raeford. Sometimes coming downtown and looking at Raeford from that perspective. It’s warmth.”

McLean: She feels it’s a great place to raise a child, to build a home, to get to know the community, say hello to people in the grocery store and enjoy an evening walk in town. And, appreciates that it’s a small town with an inviting atmosphere.

Sandy: “The jewel of Raeford is the people, simply the people. We don’t have great lakes and mountains and waterfalls and things of that nature, but we have some of the best people in the world.”

Tapp: His favorite thing is the hometown atmosphere of Raeford, and pointed to events that bring people downtown like Hometown Christmas and Friday events. “Any time you can get people to come to downtown, because we want downtown to prosper and grow, and not fall by the wayside. To get people to come here instead of driving to Fayetteville or Southern Pines, if we can offer a third of what they do, they need to come here and not drive away.”

Wilburn: Raeford is a great place to work, play, and sleep.

Question 9: Do you have any way for voters to meet or talk with you before the election?

Bain: The candidate planned to knock on doors to connect with people he hadn’t had a chance to meet yet, and also gave out free jars of honey from his backyard bee hives.

Boyles: To speak with the candidate, he’s often out and about at Edinborough Family Restaurant, Highway 55, Home Food, Raeford Hardware among other locations. He can also be reached by email.

Brown: Voters are welcome to call her on her cell, (910) 850-3765.

Conoly: Conoly works out of town, but is glad to speak with voters who see him out and about at the Fall Festival or other events.

Hart: Voters are welcome to approach her to talk, or stop by her office.

McLean: Planning an event with a date to be announced.

Sandy: It’s very easy to get in touch with him and voters are welcome to contact him.

Tapp: He can be reached by email at ctapp58@aol.com.

Wilburn: The candidate is happy to talk with voters in person if they see her around at functions or in the city, and they’re welcome to look her up on Facebook, or email her at wilburnlofts@gmail.com.

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