Editor’s note: For closing statements from each candidate on the eve of the election, check out our website at www.unioncountyweekly.com
Q7: With this year’s election, three new commissioners will be seated and a new majority will form. Countless times in the last 10 to 20 years, we’ve heard candidates promise to work with other commissioners, only to have it blow up each time and result in accusations, investigations and a fractured county, determined to support their chosen candidate and attack others with differing opinions. If elected, what makes you different from those that have come before? Can you promise to keep things civil and work to develop the long promised spirit of cooperation, to move Union County forward?
I am proud of the campaign Todd Johnson, Jerry Simpson and I have managed this past year. Though we have differed on issues with our opponents, we never attacked or allowed the conversations to become disrespectful. This will carry over if elected by the people on Tuesday. The issues we face are larger than any one of us, and we must work collectively to find real, viable solutions. This certainly does not rule out disagreements on opinion, which I feel is good for the process.
Sen. Helms once told me, “Son, you can compromise on your preferences, but you cannot compromise on your principles.” I am willing to work with the current commissioners and do hope they share this sentiment. Working together is “a two-way street,” and I look forward to doing my part.
I look forward to working with the two remaining board members as well as the two new ones that I hope to be seated with in December. The problems that this county faces are much larger than any personal disagreements that board members have with each other. I don’t feel that it is a matter of “can” you work with all other board members, but a matter of “we must” work with all other board members. Let me be crystal clear, I will work with all board members, but I will not waiver on my conservative principals and values.
I assume by a new majority you mean a voting block composed of the same three commissioners as opposed to a high percentage of 3-2 decisions; majority rules, regardless of whether its 3-2, 4-1, or 5-0. The crux of the issue is whether those voting do so based on principle or are swayed by politics, special interest or favoritism. As a conservative Republican, I believe that personal liberty is a “divine, not human, gift” and, like Jefferson, believe that government’s role is to secure that liberty. If elected, I will vote on the basis of this principle regardless of whether I land in the majority or the minority.
As to how I am different? I choose not to judge or compare myself against others and will only say that I operate from a basis of trust and an abundance mentality. I believe in others’ strengths and capacities and that when combined with the liberty to employ those strengths and capacities, tremendous synergy occurs. My only campaign promise has been that I’ll never look back. If elected the buck stops on my watch. We will look toward the future rather than blaming our current condition on mistakes of the past.
What I will promise to do is to the best of my ability work for the residents of Union County, to do only what I feel in my heart to be the right thing to do. I know that alone won’t always be an easy task and individuals on the board are not always going to agree. I will be civil. I will not attack other board members. I will speak up when board members attack each other, and I will not tolerate board member attacking me. If we are adults and if we claim we have an obligation to the citizens of Union County, then we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. What I think makes me different is that I feel, one, if I were not a team player, I wouldn’t have my name on the ballot, and, two, that’s the main purpose of the board to work collectively even when you’re not able to agree. Some level of compromise should be instituted when it results in a common good for the residents of Union County.
I am different from those before me because I take a consistent, principled approach to every issue. I am anti-tax, anti-debt, anti-socialism and pro-freedom, pro-liberty and pro-property rights. I am different than those before me because I’m not on a witch hunt. I’m on a liberty hunt. I’m different because it is not just liberty for me I am after, but for you as well. I recognize that my liberty goes only as far as my neighbors’, and as such I will fight for my neighbors’ liberty as long as I have the ability to do so. Even with a consistent approach to issues, I feel that there are issues where common ground can be reached with the sitting commissioners if my fellow Libertarian candidates and I were to be elected. For example, the current “majority” were not afraid to at least investigate doing the right thing with the hospital property. This brings up another point: Why is there always a 3-2 majority when all the commissioners are Republicans? I believe the answer lies with the sets of agendas of current and past commissioners. I’m a firm believer that you cannot change a person’s agenda, and that the only thing voters can control is which agenda gets elected. However, if the word “cooperation” in this question means increased debt, increased taxes, decreased transparency, inequitable treatment of the taxpayer or an increased burden the county puts on its citizens, I will have no part in any of that kind of “cooperation.”
Of course, all public officials need to take a civil tone when debating issues with their peers. Good manners should be considered a given. Having said that, calls for civility should not be used as a means to silence principled opposition to actions that one would deem not in the best interest of the county. I would come to this office as someone who is not beholden to any special interest or faction. If elected, I would work with the other county commissioners in a cordial manner. However, I would not be willing to compromise my core beliefs for the sake of just getting along.
It is important to maintain civility and to cooperate in developing and implementing policy for the advancement of our county, and I am prepared to do so. However, the citizens of Union County will be ill-served if their elected officials fail to express their honest disagreements with and concerns about other officials’ policies and self-serving interests. While those who know me will speak to my strong sense of principle, they will also speak of my patience and willingness to listen to others’ views.
What sets me and my fellow Libertarian candidates, Stephen Burr and Brandon Derr, apart is that we will be working to eliminate special interest benefits and to establish fiscal responsibility in Union County spending. We will not bicker over which set of contributors receives county largess. But one is living in a fantasy land if he or she believes these special interest groups, such as the developers, will give up their perks cordially. They will try to discredit us and use every derisive measure they can find. While we will exhibit our usual patience, listening skills and rationality in addressing differences, until we limit the power of Union County government to its basic responsibilities, there is unlikely to be harmony.