Hoke County commission candidates answer Q&A

Hoke County commission candidates answer Q&A

The News-Journal sent out questions to candidates seeking election to two commission seats in Hoke County in 2024. The questions were sent out by email and letter mailed to the address on record when the candidate filed. Here, we share their responses. The partisan primary election is Tuesday, March 5.

The candidates who responded were Democrats Lent C. Carr II, Deborah Evans, John Harry, James Leach (incumbent), Mary McCollum and Bobby Wright (incumbent), and Republicans Stephanie Carter and David Frump. The newspaper did not receive a response from Democratic candidate Shemicka Monroe by the deadline.

As the only two Republicans who filed to run for the two commission seats, Carter and Frump will not face a partisan primary election in March. They will be on the ballot in the General Election in November.

The responses are presented in alphabetical order by last name.



Lent C. Carr II

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

I am proud to be a 9 year citizen/resident of Hoke County; a County I love, live, serve and plan to retire.

What’s your education background?

Doctorates in Philosophy (Ph.D; Christian Education (C.Ed.D); Sacred Theology (S.Th); Master of Public Administration; Doctorate in Christian Sociology (D.SL); Doctor of Divinity (D.Div.); Doctorate of Christian Counseling (D.C.C.); Honorary Doctorate in Global Humanitarianism, and several other earned degrees and certifications. Carr was also the Valedictorian for his Class of “2022,” and elevated to Professor by The Bible Institute of America Theological Seminary. Carr, is a former North Carolina Public School Student, and High School Graduate of J.H. Rose High School, Greenville, NC.

What’s your work experience?

Carr is the Owner/CEO of a multifaceted Company, nominally known as Emmaus Corp. Embassy Enterprise Group, LLC. 15 Years experience as a Risk Management Specialist. Domestic and Legal Research Analyst. Grant Writer, Policy Composer, and Consultant/Business Continuity Planner. ECIA Investigative Agent. President of the North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance, Inc. (NCTWA) Labor Union Agency. President of The National Congressional Voting Caucus for Human Rights International (NCVCHR). Hoke County Chapter President for the “Unaffiliated Voters Organization” Concerned Citizens for Community Action (CCFCA) “WeThePeople” ad hoc Democratic Organization of North Carolina. Moreover, Dr. Carr, is the Senior Pastor of Emmaus Cathedral Churches of Raeford and Wagram, NC., and Presiding Prelate/General Bishop of Greater Pentecostal Assembly, Churches International Conference. Currently, Carr serves as the Chancellor/Professor of ECEI University.

Why are you running for commissioner?

To build “Human Infrastructure” for those deserving citizenry left out of the political, social and non-addressed socio- economic equation for well over 30years with no viable remedial solutions being procured even under regime’s so- called 17-year “vision plan—a failed plan of action that as records clearly shows under the rule of the incumbent’s autocratic branding of governance has eviscerated the poor, marginalized, elderly, Hoke’s youth, struggling mom and pop’s businesses and the hard working middle class for decades with impunity. “We The People” of Hoke County have a unique opportunity and clear choice to change this destructive “king like governing body” —one in which we must not sit home and simply pray will change, but rather be the voting voice advocate for the change we all seek. As a compassionate candidate/servant, I am well equipped to, and prepared to fight for every Hoke Countian regardless of party affiliation, gender, social status or any other persuasion. “We The People” can take back our Commission just by showing up and electing a man who has a shared heart “For the People, By The People, and Of the People—Lent C. Carr, II. Having conversed (through our canvasing campaign) with our citizens, door to door, one on one, and home to home, for the past 6 years, (I GET IT!) is why I have made Economic Development and luring new Business Industries to Hoke County a top priority in which will inevitably produce innovative Job Growth, Hoke’s very own Mall, (one in which not one cent of our budget revenue would be required under my shovel ready plan) youth and adult focused entertainment amenities, true and reliable revenue (capital outlay) and lower tax brackets in all areas of our taxing system—without having to “rob Peter to pay Paul,” and all the Disciples! Something the current Board has mastered over the years due to their refusal to be transparent, accountable, assessable, and their lack of moral fortitude and integrity. To be sure, the current incumbents are the longest serving catalyst of what ails Hoke County. Election after election, they present the same ole outdated and antiquated vision plan long since passed. Lacking new vision for a better tomorrow and the future of our County. This, amongst other “human infrastructure” reasons is why I’m running to be your next Elected County Commissioner with a shovel ready vision for responsible growth, action plan in hand.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

Besides having run large Corporations, balancing within the means budgets, and learning the art of listening more to every stakeholder (in this case the citizens) rather than talking, I’ve enjoyed sustainable growth of every corporation I’ve ever been entrusted to lead as a servant/team player with proven results that keep on giving. In my experience as a listening leader/servant taking part of multi-concentrated boards, the continuity for success always was discovered when all involved was heard on equal footing. This is why such effective experience I plan to bring to the Board of Commission by committing to hold Town Hall Meetings (outside of the County Commissioner’s regularly scheduled Commission meetings) with Hoke’s citizens at least twice a month. This is the only way to identify the needs of our County in real time, opposed to sitting as a commissioner who utilizes Taxpayers dollars on things they never desired, nor understood was coming. As such, democracy, in whatever form it is chosen by “The People” must be one of respect, compromise, and being willing to reach across the aisle regardless of political affiliation, ideologies or dissent. Working bipartisanly is what anyone seeking to represent the citizens must possess. Otherwise, the “State of Our Union” shall forever be gridlocked in a chaotic state of distrust and non-unity of citizen spirit. It does nothing in the furtherance of “the People’s business to have politicians serving with unchecked egos, arrogances, and lack of temperament. I will never bring such shame and defacement of our democracy by the appearance that any specific matter is about me—for it is not. But rather always during my tenure as your Elected Commissioner, it will always be for, by and of “The People.” As a longtime public, civic, business, and pastoral servant, I know and understand that to get anything achieved with your colleagues will require nothing less than intentional “Teamwork” that doesn’t compromise your promises, transparency, accountability and integrity.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

“PRIORITIZE” needs in contravention to wants by listening to the citizens, specialists for any given project or undertaking and studying the subject-matter in detail. Secondly, as a researcher, I would do my homework and share my findings as they are so consensus for such is sound, and non-risky to our County. Thirdly, it is essential to visit every quadrant of Hoke with a hand on approach and find solutions to cure unstable communities without disturbing the natural habitat (where possible) of our citizens, forest, wildlife, waters and agricultural boundaries. Fourthly, in my opinion, we should not be forcing extravagant housing developments that most of our citizens are unable to secure at this time due to post-pandemic strain, inflation and the simplicity of life they desire to preserve as the main stakeholders. Finally, as detailed earlier, my focus is bringing high paying living wage and innovative JOBS to our County that would uplift our citizens, increase revenue, and keep taxes low—this approach will indeed guarantee that our County will have a true capital outlay for years and years to come. In short, whether one admits it or no, at present Hoke County is bleeding. A Band-Aid will not do. We’ve got to stitch up every bleeding artery and go back to the drawing Board of non-risky and stable growth.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

The very first step should be to identify through collaboration with all citizens (be it mass survey questionnaire mailings, or open Town Hall Dialogue) what the current infrastructure needs are. Then come up with a plan of execution to fix them by prioritizing the most pressing needs within our allocated budgets.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?   

Collaboratively working with our Elected Sheriff to ensure that he has the manpower, tactical equipment, and a competitive salary to retain and recruit the best officers our Annual Budget allocates. Then encourage citizen/Sheriff allegiance for the greater public good and safety.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

As an Elected Commissioner holding the purse-string, it is my resolve to never overstep my authority, but rather respect the Board of Education’s educational plan of actions to provide the best education for our children, parents, increased salaries for our dedicated teachers. To that end, I will push to assist that Board in renovating much needed improvements to our schools and supporting a new traditional high school here in Hoke.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

“Prioritizing!” My main focus will be securing fundings for the most pressings needs for all the citizens and employees of Hoke County. Then building on the most affordable solution and building upon or expanding on it as funding becomes available.

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you elected?

“Putting Hoke County Citizens 1st and Politics Last.” Learn more about Lent C. Carr’s Priority and Issue Platform

at www.lentcarr.com or by visiting https://www.facebook.com/committeeToElectLentCarrHokeCountyCommissioner

Why should voters consider voting for you?

As a Public servant, I seek to collaborate with everyone in Hoke County— (Democrats, Republicans, Independents and the like) citizens, the press, business leaders, civic servants and nonprofits to deliver quality goods for the community at large regardless of one’s social or ethnic status. I will have a strict open-door policy, hold town hall meetings at least twice monthly, and will invite the opportunity to connect with all constituents and collaborators to make these proposed policies and priority changes a reality.


Stephanie Carter

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

18 years

What’s your education background?

BS in Marketing from Appalachian State University – Graduated in 2013

2 years of welding school from Sandhills Community College

What’s your work experience?

My family started a farm when we moved to North Carolina in 2005. Working on the farm allowed me to save up and pay for my education. During college I worked as a personal assistant. After graduating with a marketing degree, I came back to our farm and launched my own venture in 2017 (Ithika Acres Creamery). Between graduating and launching the creamery, I spent 2 years at Sandhills Community College going through welding school. I also worked one season as a tax preparer in Moore County (as I wanted to know more about the tax system and ultimately how to prepare my own).

Why are you running for commissioner?

As a concerned citizen who is tired of seeing our county being led down an unpredictable path, I want to help get our county on track so that we can be successful in the future.

Here are issues I see as necessary to address to do that:

1) Helping plan the growth of our county in a way that benefits all citizens.

2) Improving Education in Hoke County.

3) Prioritizing spending of our financial resources in ways that take care of Hoke County citizens first and foremost.

4) Supporting small business growth

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

I would love to serve the people of Hoke as a county commissioner and help prepare the county for a brighter future. My experience as a small business entrepreneur/owner has taught me how to work well with people of different mindsets and experiences to find common ground for agreement. I believe this is one of my strongest attributes and is something that will significantly help fellow commissioners to best serve the people of Hoke. We are a diverse county in culture, economics, and ability. Therefore, commissioners need to be able to work through disagreements and find solutions that ultimately benefit ALL citizens. More than ever, we need to unify over our commonalities rather than being divided over differences.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

The first and most important thing that needs to be done is to update the Land Use Plan. It is recommended to be done every 5 years. It has been close to 20 years since ours was last updated. So hundreds and hundreds (maybe thousands) of homes have not been included, land lost has not been taken into consideration. Land Use Plans are done by each county to guide them as they grow. It should help provide guidance to help shape the community, allow citizens to voice opinions, help balance out private interests and provide a general plan that should then be revised as changes are made. If our master plan is this far behind, then how in the world are we being set up for success.

Until the Land Use Plan is updated, I would refuse to okay any new developments, PERIOD.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

Most any step would be a step in the right direction compared to what we have now! Once again, I’ll go back to the Land Use Program. Both soft and hard infrastructure needs should have been considered and planned out far before the okaying of tons of new housing developments. But alas, we are where we are. So, moving forward, lots of planning will need to done. I will talk about soft infrastructure needs in several of the following questions. As for hard infrastructure i.e. waste water treatment centers, roads, water, and septic, we are going to need get some action in these areas ASAP.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

As a commissioner of Hoke County, I would make public safety a top priority when it comes to the annual budget and funding.

1) Making sure our local law enforcement has what they need to best take care of our citizens is an absolute must. We need to first feel safe and secure for us to thrive as a community.

2) As we all know, Hoke County is rapidly growing; we are adding thousands of houses in our area and our local fire departments with their volunteers and limited number of paid employees will be responsible for taking care of all these homes! We need to actively find ways to encourage more volunteers and help fundraise with them so that they can purchase needed equipment and supplies. 

3) In addition to the new residents that the housing developments bring- pets will be coming too. Our current animal shelter is in desperate need of funding to pay their staff and hire more.  With the influx of new residents, it is very likely that a completely new shelter or an additional one may need to be built to meet the needs of current and growing county. How is this a public safety issue?

1) Not enough staff leads to response time being way down. Say an emergency is caused by an aggressive animal and staff can’t get there.

2) Accidents are caused all the time by animals. Not having enough staff but more importantly room for strays or lost animals means they may be left on the street.

All these things and many more need to be addressed and fixed ASAP. We can’t undo what is done but we can plan now for change. I believe as commissioners we can better manage the funds we have and direct those monies toward projects and programs truly needed without adding unnecessary debt and burdens to the citizens of our county.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

Before construction should be allowed to be continued, bringing new residents and children to Hoke County, we need to take care of our existing schools and teachers. Did you know Hoke County currently has numerous unfilled teaching positions? Those open slots force the current teachers to take on more children than they can professionally serve. With teachers stretched beyond limitations, they cannot do a good job. Who suffers? The teachers first but ultimately the children, Hoke County, and the future of our state and country suffer. Education is the key to success and the foundation for a successful future wherever you go. Increasing teacher bonuses and hiring more assistants should help to fix these gaps.

In addition, we have maxed out classrooms and schools. We need to be planning and allocating funds for land banking for schools. Schools that we needed yesterday not sometime in the future.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

Public safety, Education, and Infrastructure

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

1) Helping plan the growth of our county in a way that benefits all citizens.

2) Improving Education in Hoke County.

3) Prioritizing spending of our financial resources in ways that take care of Hoke County citizens first and foremost.

4) Supporting small business growth. We need to encourage business growth in our community by offering incentives and tax breaks for new and growing businesses. We need to offer more opportunities for our residents to engage in activities here in our county instead of traveling to Cumberland or Moore to spend their time and money. As a small business owner myself I understand the struggles and know the need to support those trying to compete with the large corporations.

5) Transparency with the citizens of Hoke County. Encourage active engagement through polling and meetings to hear concerns of the community. As a public servant my job is to understand the community and how best to serve them. The residents are owed explanations for decisions made on their behalf and should be allowed to express their concerns and grievances with their elected officials.


Deborah McMillan Evans

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

51 years

What’s your education background?

Graduate of Hoke High Class of 1989, Associate degree in Human Services Tech. & Associate Degree in Early Childhood Edu., Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education

What’s your work experience?

My work experience consists of farming, retail, mental health and education. I started work at a young age on Billy Dalton’s farm at the age of 9. Once I turned 15, I started work at Sky City and later A&P grocery store. I worked there throughout my High School years. Once I graduated with my associate degree in human services, I started working in my degreed field of study, which was Mental Health.

I worked in the group settings, cap services & independent living setting. During that span of employment, was promoted to shift charge and later was promoted to Group Home Manger. My employer was Cumberland RHA. I managed homes from 2 to 7 homes at a time. I had to budget, schedule employees, hire & terminate, evaluate employees, train employees and teach classes.

After 13 years of Mental Health, I furthered my education in the early childhood sector due to having children of my own. I earned 2 other degrees, my associate and bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. I opened an in-home licensed daycare for 2 years and then transitioned it to a licensed childcare facility. I now have 3 locations. Garden of Eden Childcare & Little Angels Childcare located in Hoke County. Little Angels II located in Fayetteville. I have over 25 years of experience in management, Leadership skills and working with the public. I am a Pastor who is now building a church in our community to serve all people.

Why are you running for commissioner?

I have a vision that can help all people. Being a commissioner, the responsibility is to serve the community, by meeting the needs of the residents. I have been serving others since I was 9 years old. I see the needs of the community not being fully met. There are some programs that are in place here in our community, but it does not meet all the needs of our residents. I know I can help revamp some programs, that will meet the needs of our residents. I want to put hope back in Hoke County. Alot of our residents have lost faith in our local government do to promises that were not keep. When the local government break promises that they agreed too, the people began to lose hope and began not trust anyone. I am running to prove to the people that it is written: “Isaiah 9:6- The government will rest on His shoulders.”(Bible Verse)

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

 I am a businesswoman of 25 years. I pray about everything I do. When it is time for decision making, I use empathy on who, when, why and how will this decision impact others as a whole. I am firm, friendly and fair. I am an effective listener and trustworthy. The residents want to be heard. They want answers by actions and follow- ups on their concerns. I serve the residents of Hoke County through my childcare business. I see the needs they have. I talk with residents, and they express their concerns of what is needed here that we don’t have. I am an advocate and a voice the people. I have helped them find resources to meet their needs. I have always donated to some the programs here in Hoke County without recognition. I am here to serve the people by helping them grow to their next level in life.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

I would assure that we have enough manpower to manage the growth. The growth affects the budgeting and salaries of the people who already work here and live here. I would put in a strategic plan in phases. The plans would also include entertainment for our youth, elder and dining restaurants for the whole family. It’s simply called supply and demand.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

The steps to take to support the local infrastructure needs would be go visit the areas in the community. Take a tour of our county, talk to the employees, teachers, the residents. Make sure everything is up to code. If the buildings are not up to code, they fix them.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

I would schedule monthly meetings as a support to hear the concerns and come up with a plan to make sure all are safe. I would make sure that public safety has what they need to their jobs better and more efficiently. I would also assist in the public forum to hear the residents’ concerns and to make sure everyone needs are being meet. I would also request forums be held with residents quarterly or twice a year to build trust with one another. We must hear the heart of the people to make county a safe place to live.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

I would attend the board meeting to stay in the know. I would assist in helping control the violence in school. I would also help locate resources they need for further training for teachers, TA and substitute teachers as well as volunteers. I would reach out to state and federal representatives to increase wages for the teachers and assistance in each classroom. Programs will be put in place to serve the whole family on how to assist their student in his educational goals.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

Most importantly would be how much money does it take to run this county. What projects are necessary now. The county needs to focus on the major need in the community when it comes to creating the annual budget based on the resident’s financial needs first. Housing authority is a great need in our community. Families being evicted out of their homes due to inflation costs. We must remember we are here to serve the people of Hoke County.

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

I would like to put in place mentor programs for trouble youth and families. Put in place a rehabilitation program for inmates. Build partnership with small business owners. Keep the money in Hoke County by meeting the needs of Hoke County residents- entertainment, restaurants, skating rink, etc.

Why should voters consider voting for you?

I am a person who walks in integrity and great character. I am honesty and a woman of my word. I work hard for the people, and I believe in Hoke County. I want to put Hope back in Hoke County. I am here to serve you Hoke County.


David Frump

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

My wife and I bought a farm here in 1987 and, because we were both on active military duty, we lived in various states and abroad until after we were able to retire from the Navy and permanently move to the area in 2000. We moved to the farm here in Hoke County in 2003.

What is your educational background?

I have a BA in Sociology with a concentration in Urban Affairs, an MA in Foreign Relations and an MS in Strategic Planning.

What is your work experience?

I was a US Navy officer for 25 years serving in multiple capacities across all aspects of warship operations including engineering, weapons systems, administration and command and control. In addition, I directed western Pacific fleet operations and went on to Washington DC where I directed logistic maritime support for the first Gulf War. After retirement from the Navy, I was the director of DC operations of a defense contractor dealing primarily with the US Congress and Department of Defense. After leaving DC, I started a successful building company from which I have recently retired and now run the family farm.  

Why are you running for county commissioner?

Hoke County deserves commissioners who will ensure a pleasant place to live and work through responsible development, an education system that will prepare our youth for a bright future and a safe environment for all our citizens to enjoy God’s great bounty. I have the experience, the vision and the ability that will help make that happen.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

My work experience, my ability to plan for current and future needs, and importantly my willingness to listen to the desires and needs of others will ensure my effectiveness as a commissioner.

What will you do to address growth and development in the county?

Housing development is out of control in the county. Counties develop Land Use Plans to effectively guide development that is pleasing and responsive to the citizens. The plan should incorporate and reflect the desires of residents and businesses alike to ensure a good, quality of life for all people, proper education facilities and adequate infrastructure to sustain growth. Our Land Use Plan is nearly 25-year-old and there is little movement to update it. Other counties update theirs frequently. Accordingly, development in Hoke has been ill-conceived resulting in small developments spread over a wide area and unsupported by sewer, water, roads, schools and recreation facilities. As commissioner, I will see a new plan is developed by the people and businesses of the county and followed by county government.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

As I noted in the previous question, a new Land Use Plan should be developed and followed by the board and other county agencies. A panel of community representatives and businesses should convene to address the infrastructure needs, aided by expert and experienced planners, in order to craft a vision of the future Hoke County.  The commission should then follow it.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

The county first responders, law enforcement, fire departments and ambulance personnel, will get to know me well as we work together to ensure their needs are met so they effectively support the community. The commissioners’ job is to support those vital services by budget and ordnances. Providing appropriate recreational facilities will also help support public safety.

As commissioner, how would you support education?

It is the School Board’s role to identify facility needs and it is the commissioners’ role to provide the facility funding through budgeting and state and federal grants. Due to unprecedented growth, we are behind in school facilities both in number and in condition. Owing to the current county debt incurred by the new swimming complex, we will have to move more slowly in providing the much-needed classroom space for our schools. In addition, spread out development resulting from inadequate planning, forces either more schools or more busing. I will help get planning back on track to support education.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

Long Range Planning, Educational Needs, Public Safety, Health

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

A Land Use Plan, incorporating planned housing concentration, business areas, parks and recreation, is top on my to-do list. A good plan will help ease the pressing need for classroom space, promote business and employment opportunities, and cut down on crime. I will see that we get a great plan with input from the public!

I will maintain regularly scheduled town hall meetings rotated throughout the community centers so that citizens can voice concerns and have an input into county government.

I will push for a structural change to the commission so that we have district representation on the board vice all at large positions. Increased accountability to constituents will result.

I will make every effort to have openness in government by working closely with the press and public media.  

Why should voters consider voting for you?

I will support open and honest government, always act in the best interest of the citizens of Hoke County, and will be accessible to the voters. I’m a good Listener! 


John F. Harry

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

30 years

What’s your education background?

Doctorial Candidate

What’s your work experience?

36 years military (Navy, Army). Auto Factory worker. Position(s) Law Enforcement (State, County, Village, military) Corrections. Education 27 years as a Guidance Counselor Department of Army; Middle and High Management position. Entrepreneur. 

Why are you running for commissioner?

Why not! I am an United State of America citizen.  Hoke County growth has changed it calls for a change in leadership. The current system lacks true representation of our population of 53.6 thousands. My platform is “New Generation of Leadership” (Out with the OLD, IN with the NEW) through Governing by Diversity.  I love Hoke County.   My vision it to nurture Hoke’s Identity through this current RAPID uncheck growth.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

Vast experience where; I do not promise, nore make promises I knew I could not keep, the corner stone of past and current decision making on what ever topic of concerns.  I listen, where I would not compromise the trust of my stewardship of my position. I have experience in Public Administration at County and Federal level (Department of Defense) Authorship of Policy “Closure/Deactivation of Education Service OCONUS/Army.  Draw down of US Forces Europe 1989 (received monetary award plus Letters of…)  There are more just ask.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

Now that the CAT is out the bag!  What I have been asking County Commissioners since 1996 to present; What is Hoke’s Identity for determining Economic growth.  Right now I foresee Hoke County is rapidly becoming an Urban Rural County.  Small businesses unlike our current industrial representative of ” Unilever”,”Burlington Worldwide” or the current defunct Ethanol Refinery near Dundarrach.  Cotton and grain and small cattle are present in Hoke.  Issue(s) Residential development curtailing agriculture and cattle growth.  I will bring to the Commissioners a request for a review (indepth) of Hoke County in general.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

There is North Carolina Statutes governing the requirements of County and State.  Hoke County at present has the responsibility to build a new County Court House.  The largest portion of Hoke’s General Budget is toward the Public School where now a new major building project has comment plus within the near future a new School Building within the County.  The Sheriff Department has to maintain a Confinement Center (Jail) plus its various building.  Furthermore, the County also has a requirement for buildings to do County Businesses.  It is called “Prioritize” commitment.  I always stated where I will listen and seek.  The power of the Purse.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

We Do Not Need a Sense of a Police State!  No Commissioners have the authority of “habeas corpus”.  North Carolina Statute dictates the duties of a County Commissioner and the Office of Sheriff.  Hoke Commissioners review and approve or disapprove the budget of the Hoke County Sheriff Department.  Commissioner do not have any regulatory functions with the Raeford City Police Department.  I, a former Deputy Sheriff understand the importance of budgeting within the Sheriff Department in helping me to make any decisions.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

Elect me to the School Board. WEW! Its a question where you are never right or wrong.  The State of North Carolina has Statute which addresses Education and County requirements. Pay is not one of them.  The County specify has responsibility for Building and what material required to support the mission of Education.   I would listen and observe before finalizing my decision(s).

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

Monetary.  Can the County meet all the requirements “ear mark” from/for each department of County responsibility.  Tax Dollars. Biggest is Education.  Second is the Sheriff Department than all the other Departments within County Government.

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

True Representation of the citizen and its representation on the County Board of Commission by the establishment of representation of an elected Commissioner by residency within a township.  There are seven established townships in Hoke County.  One Commissioner from each.  Hoke’s rapid growth has caused for a loped side county population where the current growth township is McLauchlin will dominate.  Plus unlike today where Commissioners are hard to find, having one in your area will have a better understanding of your living environment and its requirements.  The Commissioner is your neighbor not a visitor during election cycle.  

Why should voters consider voting for you?

Not because I was your favorite school teacher or minister nor because I have a pretty photograph. Over the many years of being a people person I believe I take the position of authority not one of power or monetary gain but one where I can assist someone in need.  If I can not do it, I will find some one that can. Period!   Those of you who are born and raised in Hoke County and especially to you the new comer I welcome both as your Commissioner.


James A. Leach

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

I have been a citizen of Hoke County all my life.

What’s your education background?

I am a Hoke County High School graduate.  I have an Associate’s degree in Business from Fayetteville Technical College and an Associate’s degree in Religion from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  I have attended numerous classes and workshops at the UNC School of Government.

What’s your work experience?

I am retired from Spanco, Raeford, NC where I was a Supervisor and Plant Supervisor.  I have been a pastor for over 30 years and a District Elder in the Southern Pines District Union of the United American Free Will Denomination for over 20 years.

Why are you running for commissioner?

I love Hoke County.  Everywhere I go, I tell everyone that Hoke County is the best county in North Carolina.  Having been a Hoke County Commissioner for 32 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes and a lot of growth. It is an honor to serve the citizens of Hoke County and it’s an honor to be part of a wonderful team of my fellow Commissioners, the County Manager, staff, and advisory boards.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

I have served as a Hoke County Commissioner for over 30 years. I am well-versed in governmental procedures. In addition, I have served on numerous Boards, both local and regional, including Lumber River Council of Governments, Hoke County Juvenile Crime Prevention Commission, Hoke County Utilities Committee, Hoke County EMS Advisory Council, Hoke County Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and the Hoke County Senior Services Board. 

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

I think keeping the property tax low is important to encourage businesses and industries to locate in Hoke County.  The availability of county water and sewer is important to businesses considering Hoke County.  It’s important to work with the local agencies, such as NC Southeast and the Southeastern Economic Development Commission, to get the word out about Hoke County’s advantages: low tax rate, infrastructure, rail availability, and access to Interstate 95.  Our public school system and community college are committed to workforce development.  We want to continue to work with Fort Bragg and retiring veterans to encourage military-related businesses.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

With Hoke County’s growth over the past two decades, the water system has had enormous demand placed upon it.  I have led the effort to develop the County’s water system and the construction of the county’s sewer system. I support continuing to look for other water sources throughout the county.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

Public Safety is a priority.  As our county grows, all elements of public safety must grow.  During my time on the Board, I have supported the Sheriff in adding deputies and vehicles to cover the entire county. I also support the operation of the 911 Communication Center, Emergency Management and Fire Departments. My record reflects my support of additional EMS facilities at two fire departments. All are critical components of keeping our citizens safe at all times.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for our children and our senior citizens.  During my tenure on the Board, I have prioritized construction of new schools, as well as much-needed repairs at the older schools. I have supported the initiative to get laptops in the hands of every student and I also strongly support keeping School Resource Officers at each school, to keep students and staff safe.  Most recently, I have worked with regional legislators to get State funding to obtain funding for the construction of a new state-of-the-art facility on the Hoke County High School campus.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

I feel strongly that the tax rate needs to be kept low to keep living in Hoke County affordable for all our citizens.  It’s a balancing act.  Each year as budget requests are submitted, the Board reviews every request to be able to continue operating the County and serve our citizens, while holding the line on the tax rate.  Our citizens’ quality of life in Hoke County is extremely important.

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

I want to see the projects that we have started be completed: the Justice Center, the High School project, and the expansion of infrastructure.  I’d like to see the McLaughlin Building used exclusively as a senior center.  I want to continue expanding our senior services, adding remote sites and eliminate any wait lists for meals on wheels.  To build on the success of the James A. Leach Aquatic and Recreation Center, I want to continue expanding options for activities and recreation for our children.

Why should voters consider voting for you?

I love Hoke County! My priorities have always been family and quality of life in the county.  We must take care of our citizens, particularly the children and the senior citizens.  I have considerable experience in how local government functions and knowledge of the needs of Hoke County.  All citizens benefit from sound local government.   


Mary Blue McCollum

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

Born and raised in Hoke County

What’s your education background?

Hoke County High School graduate; Certifications from Fayetteville Technical Community College (Supervision & Management), Fayetteville State University (Principle of Banking), Pitt County Community College (Community Development), John Hopkins: School of Medicine (Transforming Education)

What’s your work experience?

49 years of work experience in manufacturing/textiles through Burlington Industries; banking and accounting through United Carolina Bank (UCB)/Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) now known as Truist; practice management through Dr. Karen L. Smith, MD. 

Why are you running for commissioner?

To be a voice and to serve the residents of Hoke County through transparency, and efficient/effective communication.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

Years of experience in financing, budgeting, customer service, and management.  I have held leadership roles on several boards to include, Hoke County Chamber of Commerce, Lumber River Workforce Development, Hoke County Democratic Women and membership on the Hoke County Civic League.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

Nurture economic growth while accommodating a growing population through mixed use development.  Commercial development to promote job creation/growth and increase in tax revenue.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

Assess the current needs of existing communities before developing/building new construction.  Develop operational strategies/plans for expanded water/sewer lines.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

Ensuring our law enforcements agencies has the resources to effectively do their jobs. Listen to the concerns of residents and addressing them with our law enforcement agencies – providing follow-up to the residents on the prioritization of those concerns.  

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

Partner with the School Board to address the needs of teachers, students, parents and administrators.  Provide more local funding for school resources officers.  Consistent communication with the public on education successes and issues.  Advocate to the State for higher salaries for educators.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

Public Safety; Water/sewer upgrades and development; Adequate emergency services for population growth; Affordable housing initiatives (prioritize homeless population).

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

Bring County officials together to advocate with a collective voice to be more inclusive to all the citizens of Hoke County; Promote mixed use development; Affordable housing options. 

Why should voters consider voting for you?

I am an advocate of creating environments of trust and respect, while remaining approachable.  I strive to be inclusive of all, as we all have a voice in how this County should look.  I am a candidate of transparency and integrity.


Robert (Bobby) A. Wright

How long have you lived in Hoke County?

I was born in Hoke County in 1941 and have lived here my entire life.

What’s your education background?

I graduated from Hoke County High School and Campbell College (now Campbell University) with a BS in Science.

What’s your work experience?

I owned and operated Robert A. Wright Farms for 60 years.

Why are you running for commissioner?

The reason I am running for county commissioner is to continue to make Hoke County a better place for our citizens to live, work, and raise their families.

What experience do you have that will allow you to serve as an effective county commissioner?

I have served 20 years as a Hoke County Commissioner, 10 years as a Hoke County School Board Member, and held State Director Positions for the NC Association of County Commissioners and NC School Board Association. This experience has taught me the importance of building long term relationships and partnerships to work towards common goals for the betterment of Hoke County.

What will you do to address growth and development in Hoke County?

The continued growth of Hoke County will offer many opportunities and challenges.  With growth will come higher paying jobs, more tax base, and more amenities for our citizens.  However, this same growth will cause stress on our infrastructure, more congestion, and some destruction to our rural landscape.  As a county commissioner, I will work to ensure that we make decisions that mitigate the negative effects of growth and maximize the positive effects.

What steps should the commission take to support local infrastructure needs?

The development in Hoke County has led to increased pressure on our water and sewer systems.  We need to invest more on improving our water system by digging wells and updating our water treatment plant rather than continuing to rely on purchasing additional water from PWC.  We will continue to seek grant money to expand our sewer system and capacity.

As a commissioner, how would you support public safety?

During my tenure as a commissioner, I have always been a strong advocate for public safety.  I have served as the fire commissioner for over 18 years.  We are in the process of building a state-of-the-art fire burn training facility near Rockfish which will help train our firemen and lower insurance rates for the citizens of Hoke County.  I will continue to provide the Sheriff’s department with the financial support they need to protect Hoke County.

As a commissioner, how would you support education?

Since I have been in public office, Hoke County has built 5 new schools and made improvements to most of the other schools.  I have worked hard to provide the funding for an excellent school system.  I am in favor of building a new high school in the eastern part of the county and expanding Sand Hoke Early College.

What priorities should the county focus on when creating the annual budget?

As a steward of the public’s money, I believe in spending our limited resources as wisely as possible. We should always seek federal, state, and private grants to supplement our local funds.  My top priorities are: 1) our school system, 2) public safety including our fire departments, 3) Infrastructure, 4) Our employees, who work diligently on your behalf.  As always, I will strive to keep your tax burden as low as possible.

What are some things you would like to accomplish if you are elected?

I would like to have the opportunity to see to completion several of the projects that are now in progress.  The courthouse will have a groundbreaking ceremony the 29th of February at 11:00 am.  A soup kitchen to provide hot meals to citizens in need is to be build beside the DMV in Hillcrest. Five low-income residential units to serve 10 families are in the planning stages through a grant from the State of NC.  A domestic violence facility is planned to be built off of 401 Business.

Why should voters consider voting for you?

I have proven leadership, honesty, integrity, and a mindset of dedicated service to the people of Hoke County.  I would appreciate your vote.

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