ELECTION 2022: Q&A with Candidates – Oakboro
Published 4:53 pm Tuesday, October 18, 2022
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.
Robert Watkins Jr.*
Oakboro Town Council
* did not answer
1. What are your qualifications for serving on the town council and what are your reasons for running for office?
Cratty: I am running for Mayor of Oakboro. I have served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT with Oakboro Rural Fire Department since 2003. I served on the board of directors for two of those years and as treasurer for seven of those years.
I have worked in leadership roles and feel qualified to delegate and preside over council meetings in a legal and fair manner. I believe in transparency and would keep town residents informed on the town’s progress as well as future plans.
I would serve as the voice of the town’s people, addressing/forwarding grievances, complaints and general issues. I would serve my community without favor or discrimination and make people feel comfortable attending and speaking at meetings.
Huneycutt: I have served Oakboro in a variety of roles as commissioner on the town council beginning in 2012.
I have served as commissioner of water and sewer, police commissioner and mayor pro-tem as well as the Oakboro representative for the NC Regional Council of Government, Rocky River Rural Planning Organization.
My current term is 2020-2024, I have chosen to run for the office of mayor which will allow me to continue to serve the town in a different position and I feel will be the next step in public service to my community.
During my service as commissioner, I have been part of a number of positive changes for the town and Stanly County and I want to continue to see it prosper.
Barbee: I have worked for a reputable manufacturer for 26 years, procuring items for special projects, while budgeting and allocating funds.
I learned how to work with people and be a team player to get task done. I have developed relationships with politicians, vendors and utility contractors that can be valuable to the Town of Oakboro.
I am running for office because I have a love for people and this town, I desire to make impactful decisions that influence Oakboro over a span of many, many years.
Carpenter: I am running for Oakboro Town Council because I have lived on Oakboro most of my life and I know the ins and outs of the town. I have had a business there for the last 31 years and I want to be at the center of developing the town in a way its citizens want.
I feel I am qualified to serve on the town council because I am very familiar in running a business and I know what it takes to problem solve and get along with people in a group setting.
B. Smith: Qualifications:
• Knowledge of Oakboro
• Life Experiences
• Relating, listening and understanding the people of Oakboro.
Reasons for running:
• Concern for Oakboro’s past, present and future.
F. Smith: I have a love for and a personal investment in Oakboro. I was born and raised in Stanly County and continued to have it in my heart as I ventured to other locations to raise a family and work in textiles for 40-plus years.
During that time I managed million dollar plus budgets and made decisions that would positivity impact many associates under my management.
Oakboro is my home, I want to see it prosper and maintain the genuine respect and hometown feeling it has for its citizens.
2. How should the town of Oakboro handle the growth with new residents and businesses expected to come in the next few years?
Cratty: I feel that we need a plan in place to safeguard and protect our small town community, while welcoming subtle growth needed to support new households and businesses.
Huneycutt: Oakboro has 2,179 residents as of 2021. To better control the expected growth, there are several things that must be considered in regards to new residents, housing, and business. We must consider the need for upgrades to the current infrastructures we have in place, as well as new infrastructures that will be required.
A Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and a 20-year comprehensive land use plan has been developed to assist us in managing growth in the future.
We cannot completely depend on monies from taxpayers to fund growth and invest for the future generations. We must seek and apply for available federal and state grants available to municipalities.
Barbee: I am excited and encouraged about the growth that is expected in Oakboro, I believe that this should happen gradually over a span of years, not overnight.
This can be achieved by investing in consulting firms with experience in small town development, that can provide long term impact studies to council members, which will help them make educated decisions for the town.
Carpenter: Oakboro is unique in that it has a small town atmosphere. The citizens I have spoken with want to preserve that small town feel, that is one of the main reasons people move here.
Growth is coming, but it needs to be planned carefully with the council, zoning board and input from the citizens.
B. Smith: Be very proactive, less reactive, anticipate and identify strategies for success, plan accordingly.
F. Smith: We all know Oakboro is going to grow and change, how fast who knows but it is growing.
The Town Council will need to be prepared to handle that transition for the benefit of everyone. We have to look at our roads, schools, Fire Department, town sewer and Police Department.
Everyone wants a safe place to live with nice parks for the children young and mature.
3. There have been mentions in recent town council meetings by citizens about certain areas of the town not receiving fair treatment. How would you reach out to the citizens and what steps would you take to ensure all citizens feel they are treated fairly?
Cratty: I myself live in an area of the town that does not always receive fair treatment. I have taken the time to travel through our entire community to see first hand what changes could be made to ensure equality.
I would love to see positive improvements that would encompass the safety and well-being of all town residents.
Huneycutt: While serving the town and citizens as a commissioner, I came to know that reaching out to citizens is essential to be aware of all needs and concerns. We all have the right to vote and should exercise that right because everyone deserves to be heard and treated fairly.
I have and will continue to go through the community and personally talk to people about changes that feel are needed. I also invite everyone to take part in what is happening in our “own backyard” by voting in elections, attending the monthly town board meeting and making your voice heard if necessary.
Change requires working together and cannot be done by one person.
Barbee: All residents’ opinions matter, I will get out into the community, listen to concerns and provide factual feedback. I will encourage individuals or a voice from their neighborhood to attend council meetings and express any concerns or needs that should be addressed.
Carpenter: I would like to think with my background of having grown up in the town, that most residents know me and would feel comfortable calling me to discuss any town issue that concerns them.
I would also be open to listening to their concerns one on one at my office in Oakboro.
Maybe periodically there could be an open forum outside of the regular council meeting where citizens could come with a free exchange of information and ideas.
B. Smith: In my 46 years as a resident of Oakboro, 25 years as an administrator (assistant principal and principal) at West Stanly High School, four years on Oakboro town council, I have tried to treat people with respect.
It made no difference where they lived, who they were or how much money they had. The Oakboro people that know me and have prior history with me know I have been this person.
F. Smith: Every citizen and concern must be heard and fair solutions must be made. Right now the State of North Carolina has $48 million available in grants to provide improvements in neighborhoods.
We need to learn how to utilize these funds and other available grants for the benefit of our citizens.
4. What changes would you like to see come to Oakboro in terms of business, plans or projects?
Cratty: As Oakboro grows, I feel it is important to welcome new businesses to our community without squashing current businesses’ livelihoods. We have the potential to grow where both old and new businesses can thrive.
I feel it is imperative to have a planning committee to oversee the correct path to future growth and projects.
Huneycutt: We need to focus on promoting new job opportunities and businesses to Oakboro. There will be new opportunities with Charlotte Pipe and Foundry moving one of its production facilities to Oakboro. This is a project that took years of planning, preparation and the efforts of countless people — from the state to local level — involved in making this a reality. It will have a huge impact on not only our local town economy, but for Stanly County as a whole.
I hope to see additional restaurants and retail coming to Oakboro, which would not only bring new jobs, but offer additional choices to the people for shopping, dining and entertainment. There have been several new businesses that have come to Oakboro over the past few years such as Main Street Cup & Cone, Morton’s Antiques and Crafts, Carolina Paper Converters and Mathers Realty, and I welcome others.
Barbee: I would like to see downtown Oakboro thriving with life, energy, and activities for everyone.
We need a downtown revitalization/development plan in place that attracts various restaurants, shopping and family friendly activities.
The town can be a destination, in which visitors, residents and business owners thrive and prosper.
Carpenter: I would like to see the town extend its sidewalks. Currently we have many citizens who use the existing sidewalks in town to walk their dogs, push baby strollers or just walk and run.
With growth, extending the sidewalks could involve more citizens.
I would also like to see future development in the park with a possible second hard surface trail for wheelchairs and small ramps into the bathrooms and picnic shelters for handicap accessibility.
B. Smith: Change can be beneficial to Oakboro, but it needs to be done with our small town values in mind. We don’t want to outgrow and do away with our past traditions and strong points. The person and people should always be the most important issue in Oakboro. People before politics.
F. Smith: Small changes can provide huge impacts. For example, becoming a Tree City USA can protect and grow our natural resources now and for future generations. Studies show, “trees reduce cost for energy, storm water management and erosion control.”
Also electric vehicles are coming. We need to install some car chargers for the public. Would like to see a nice restaurant, a Bojangles and a couple of manufacturing plants.
Thank you for your consideration and vote, Fred L. Smith.
GOBA hosts forum Oct. 18
The Greater Oakboro Business Association will host the Oakboro candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Baptist Church of Oakboro in the fellowship hall.
Candidates will answer questions previously submitted from the community.