Q&A with County Commission Candidates – Part 4

Published 11:27 am Friday, April 15, 2022

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Editor’s Note: For coverage of the primary election, The Stanly News & Press sent questions to each group of candidates. We limited their responses to 200 words per answer. Answers appear as is, with the exception of editing for grammatical/ spelling errors or length. This allows potential voters to see the candidates through their own words and gives equal opportunity for the candidates to respond. We gave candidates two weeks to email their answers back.

County Commission

Patty Crump
Lane Furr
Leon Warren

District 1
Levi Greene
Mike Haigler
Mike Barbee

District 2
Bill Lawhon
Jon Ledbetter
Thomas Townsend

District 3
Tommy Jordan
Brandon King

4. Which of the responsibilities of county commissioners would you be most focused on and why?

Patty Crump

Crump: As a former teacher and school board member, I am naturally inclined to take interest in our public schools, making sure they are properly funded and our teachers are paid at competitive rates.

As a marketing professional in the healthcare industry, I am particularly interested in setting policy that protects the citizens of Stanly County from government overreach in all forms, particularly in the form of unconstitutional mandates with which we are all too familiar.
And speaking of setting policy, this is an important responsibility of the county commission.

While on the school board, I chaired the policy committee for two years, so I am very familiar with the tedious process of creating and updating policies to best fit the needs of the community and to ensure the welfare of the citizens is protected.

Additionally, as much as I want to grow our county, I want to grow at a sustainable rate while also protecting and preserving our sprawling farmland and natural resources.

Lane Furr

Furr: One of the most pressing issues our county faces is growth and development. County commissioners can see the big picture with all the pieces of the county puzzle. Finding and preserving the delicate balance between present and future growth is key.

This responsibility is the sum of all parts in serving as a county commissioner. Property taxes, water and sewer, new business, housing, fire taxes, etc. are included under the growth and development umbrella.

We must be good stewards of our land and resources. Patience is key. Understanding the cause and effect of each detail is necessary.

Leon Warren

Warren: All responsibilities of county commissioners are significant, including collaborating with the other county commissioners, county manager, department heads, county employees and most, important of all, citizens of Stanly County to each year develop a realistic, economically wise, and conservative county government budget with no property tax increase.

That would include spending the appropriate amount of money for each line item in it. Each year those line items need to be examined to see if they need to be increased, kept as is, reduced, or eliminated.

Keep the many very good employees county government has by making sure they are adequately compensated in money, benefits and comfortable working conditions, according to the current job market.

Our community has an increasing percentage of senior citizens we should help provide services and opportunities for and assist them to enjoy the best quality of life possible.

Will be appointed to serve on other boards and committees, each of which are important to keep Stanly County on the right track both in the government and non-government areas.

Levi Greene

Greene: First and foremost, it begins with the oath of office. All elected officials are sworn to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States and North Carolina. I think many officials treat this oath as a formality, but I believe it is the very basis for everything.

Our individual freedoms are outlined in these documents and the oath serves to highlight the supreme importance of individual freedom above all else.

Secondly, I am very fiscally motivated and, as said before, I would focus on waste and stewardship in all areas of county government. One of my pet peeves is when I hear of “free” federal money in the forms of grants or other means.

To begin with, the money is ours. We paid the taxes to the federal government, so they aren’t “giving” us anything. Second, I learned a long time ago, nothing is free.

Most of these grants/allocations/etc. come with strings attached.

All elected officials should read and understand the fine print. I am a stickler for educating myself. It has served me well in my career and will benefit me when I am commissioner.

Mike Haigler

Haigler: Primary services would be my focus. Public safety, utilities, schools and economic development are all vital to a desirable quality of life. Economic development is the engine that drives growth and provides the bulk of the funding for all basic services.

Our community’s health and safety are directly impacted by the level of service of law enforcement, EMS, fire and 911. We need to have the best services possible. Without funding these departments adequetly, our communities will suffer.

We need to invest in primary services for the long haul. Provide economic opportunity, quality education, adequate utilities and top-level public safety and you have the primary focus for local government.

Mike Barbee

Barbee: I think the biggest responsibility of a commissioner is to listen to the people! I am elected to represent the whole county and how can I represent them without listening to them. I hope I have developed enough trust that residents would feel comfortable in contacting me with any issue.

Lawhon: As a commissioner I have focused on job growth, which allows our citizens opportunity for good earnings and satisfaction from their job.

I will continue to focus on adding infrastructure so our county can continue to grow.

Bill Lawhon

As growth continues we need to focus on proper growth. We do not need to become like Union or Cabarrus counties. We need to protect what we have in our beautiful county.

As a commissioner it is my responsibility to work with our municipalities to make sure we have good communication and are working for the same results.

As your commissioner I will look after your tax dollars as a conservative Republican.

Jon Ledbetter

Ledbetter: For me, the primary focus as a county commissioner would have to be helping make decisions that would impact our county for the better.
I would like to focus on enhancing job growth and helping grow the local economy. There needs to be a focus on enticing businesses to want to stay in the county or move to this county, not leave.

With this focus on jobs and growing the economy comes the opportunity to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars.

As a county commissioner, if we learn to be good stewards of taxpayer money, then in return we will help encourage and entice companies and individuals to keep their business in the county and others to bring business here.

Thomas Townsend

Townsend: Managed growth and fighting for the constitutional rights of our citizens.
Managed growth simply means focusing on the basic needs of the people they cannot accomplish for themselves.

I think the public needs to be invited to help address the direction and speed at which we as a county grow. Houses, without industry to provide both good paying jobs and a sound tax base, only exacerbate the overburdening of our infrastructure problem.

Houses alone do not produce enough tax revenue to support the needs associated with them such as schools, fire, medic, police, water/sewer, and road maintenance, which are issues that fall under the role of government. It is hard to attract industry and business without great schools.

Lastly, we live in a county with tremendous agricultural influence and beautiful natural resources that must be preserved and maintained.

Fighting to uphold the constitutional rights of our citizens means standing against unconstitutional mandates handed down by any government official or entity threating to strip us of our rights and freedoms guaranteed under the constitution!

Tommy Jordan

Jordan: To answer that, voters would need to know what the responsibilities of the commissioners are, and most don’t. They don’t know what we do, or how we do it, or why we can’t do certain things they sometimes want us to.

I work hard educating folks on what we can and can’t do from our office and helping direct them to the methods for change when those methods are outside our powers.

But as far as the job responsibilities – I’m most focused on making the decisions that will make our county revenue-positive while maintaining our tax rate as low as possible. I look at our county and I want it to be a place my children can raise their children in, but it also needs to remain rural. Keeping us moving forward while maintaining a rural cultural identity is an incredibly hard knife-edge to balance. We need technology and we need businesses, but we don’t need wall-to-wall asphalt and concrete. We need John Deere Green and gigabit speed – in the same household. We need bluetooth, yellow fields and green grass – all in harmony, and that takes a lot of precision planning and work!

Brandon King

King: This is probably the hardest question of all because there are so many responsibilities that are equally important; but if I had to choose just one, it would probably be long- range county needs. We must think about the future and prepare for future growth. I feel like as long as I have lived in Stanly County, we have always been reactive instead of proactive. We have to find a way to stop band-aiding and come up with real solutions for long-term positive effect.

Our school system is a prime example of what happens when you neglect an item for long periods of time. We find ourselves in a situation where we have school buildings at or over 100 years old and the system is in need of a complete overhaul. This topic will require some tough conversations that will need a great amount of compromise from many.

We can achieve all of this if we can just understand it is for the greater good of our wonderful county. This will necessitate vital input from all of our citizens and I pledge to you that I will be accessible to you and value your input.