Candidate for Hoke County Board of Commissioners 2020
1. Please tell voters a little about yourself, your background and experience.
I grew up in a loving Christian family as one of three children and worked my way through college earning a degree in Sociology (urban planning), later earning Masters’ degrees in Strategic Planning and International Relations. After graduation, I was awarded a commission in the US Navy where I served for 25 years including service in Vietnam and Desert Storm. Retiring as a Commander, I went on to work in industry representing an equipment manufacturer in Washington D.C. and South America. Later, I started a small successful construction company building and remodeling homes. My wife of 42 years and I established a farm in Hoke County in 1987 where, after retiring from the Navy, we have resided for over 20 years. We have one daughter who we adopted from the Philippines. All of us are proud and happy to live in Hoke County.
2. Why are you running for the commission?
Hoke County needs new ideas to “Move Hoke Forward” into renewed prosperity where our families can earn a good living and our children can be raised in sharing the comfort and bounty they deserve. I believe we must all share our God given talents by giving back to our community and improving it for next generations. I have the education, the experience, the skills and the desire to “Move Hoke Forward”.
3. If elected for an upcoming four-year term, what are some of the things you hope to accomplish?
There is a host of things I want to accomplish as commissioner. Among them is providing better schools and educational opportunities for our youth. Our schools are overcrowded and many need renovations to provide an atmosphere where our children can excel. Ten per cent of our school aged children attend school out of county, many because their parents feel our schools are inadequate. We must correct this now.
We need to create a better business environment so that we can grow more and vibrant jobs in the county. Sure, we are experiencing tremendous growth in homes being built but the positive economic impact caused by home construction is not sustainable in the long run. Eventually housing needs as a result of Fort Bragg growth will be met and building will slow. We need businesses in Hoke to keep money in the county. Our growing population will require more services from our county government. To avoid increased property taxes to provide those services, we need business revenue to share in the support. I do not support raising property taxes, but instead do support increasing the revenue tax base through expanding business growth!
As commissioner, I will ensure all people of Hoke County receive fair representation regardless of background, ethnicity, creed, sex or religion. My presence on the board will bring a diversity much needed. We as people are all in this life together and together, we will progress.
I want to bring a better feeling of safety to our community by working with our first responders, the sheriff’s department and fire chiefs. Also, we should explore more advantageous ways to help our citizens through our local social services. Together we can do this!
4. As a commissioner, what will you do going forward to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Hoke County?
There is no doubt COVID has had a tremendous impact on our citizens’ ability to make ends meet. Additionally, many small businesses have been driven to close permanently further reducing our residents’ ability to support their families. It will take us all a long time to recover.
We must support our county social services programs. Property taxes are due after the first of the year. We should step up to the plate and in severe cases delay or reduce those taxes. It is a slippery slope when identifying those in severe need, but we must do all we can. It is important we identify our needs to the state and federal legislature.
The closing and slowing down of businesses also brings an opportunity we must be ready to seize. Businesses will reopen somewhere. We need to make sure we make Hoke County the most attractive place to reopen.
5. As a commissioner, how will you encourage economic growth in Hoke?
As commissioner, I will emphasis economic growth through expanding our businesses. I would like to form a “Corps of Business Ambassadors”, drawn on our own local business people, to reach out to their business partners throughout the country. They, along with our business development crew, would help tell our message that Hoke is the place to do business.
The commissioners will have to make sure it is. I would propose to create a business advisory board for the commissioners made up of realtors, builders, chamber of commerce members, restaurateurs and others to provide the needed input. In addition, I would like to clean up Hoke County by discouraging litter and requiring removal of abandoned decrepit commercial buildings which will aid in our need to make Hoke County a desirable location for new and thriving business.
6. Would you support funding a new high school? What about other county-funded construction projects?
There is growing concern we need another high school to meet the needs of our growing population. This has to be addressed now with respect to future needs, finances and impact on diversity of student population so that along with the Board of Education, we can properly and accurately plan. If a new high school is needed, we should build it.
Our historic courthouse should be retained and improved. Anyone who has served on jury duty knows it is long overdue. We need to supplement our court facilities to better serve our justice system. A building to consolidate additional justice and to replace other aging county buildings is needed. Let’s get going with this and let’s build it in downtown Raeford.
7. Hoke County currently has a property tax rate of 73 cents per $100, and in recent years the county’s General Fund balance has grown to over $27 million. What steps would you support in managing the county’s finances from here?
One of the attractive aspects of Hoke County is our relatively low property tax rate. Currently, property is being revalued and results will be felt in 2022. It is almost certain to increase the total amount our residents are paying. Commissioners should get an idea of how this will impact current tax revenues and explore cutting property taxes to compensate money being taken out of the pockets of taxpayers. I not only favor no new taxes, but think we may need to roll back the current rate for 2022. As I stated earlier, we need to grow our businesses to pay for future needs. It is commendable we have a surplus in our general fund. We should be cautious when spending it down so that if we have another Covid-like disaster we can meet our community’s immediate needs.
8. Is there anything else you would like for voters to know about your views and goals?
Hoke is located between two of the wealthier counties in the state, Moore and Cumberland. I have long lamented why Hoke is one of the poorest counties in the state. The only answer is planning and management. I will work to turn that around. Together we can “Move Hoke Forward”.
9. If you have one, please provide a link to your campaign website or Facebook page that we can share with voters.
Please visit my webpage at HokeForward.com and like my Facebook page at @HokeForward to stay informed.