Frank Aikmus’s goal when he first set out for office in 2012 was to increase Union County’s economic development. His goal remains the same as he campaigns for reelection to the county commission in 2020.
His proudest achievements were building a better relationship with the county’s board of education to adequately fund schools, cut residents’ taxes and contribute to Union County’s economic growth as a member of the economic development board.
The main reason for the county’s economic growth, Aikmus said, is the increase in commercial development. However, this has not come without challenges and certain limitations.
“A lot of the reason we are limited is because we really can only recruit low-water users,” Aikmus said. “Fortunately, with the Yadkin water project coming about, we’ll have the water resources we need to build a commercial tax base on the eastern side of the county. With the western side of the county being controlled by municipalities that, frankly, don’t want commercial growth, this opens up an opportunity to develop on the eastern side and really grow that commercial tax base.”
The Yadkin water project and recent water rate increases have concerned voters throughout the county. It has been a hot-button issue that has been frequently debated in this primary.
Aikmus said misinformation is being spread about the project, but he feels he and his team have effectively communicated the facts to Union County residents.
“When we set out to do this years ago, we studied 12 different options,” Aikmus said. “When it came down to it, the Yadkin was the most economical and it was the lowest impact environmentally that we found, and so that is primarily the reason we went with the Yadkin water project. We hired experts in the field to determine what was the most viable option, both economically and environmentally … It was determined that the Yadkin project was the best option.”
The most critical aspect Aikmus stressed about the Yadkin project is that it will finally bring clean water to residents who have lived with contaminated water and have asked for safe water for years.
Aikmus also said the Yadkin water project will bring in more commercial development to the county. He would like to see more agribusiness companies come to the area and he believes more will be attracted to Union County through the Yadkin project.
More commercial development means more growth for the county. Aikmus said growth is inevitable and the county has done its best to control what it can. He said they cannot control the boundaries of municipalities.
Aikmus, a Republican, understands that Union County is an attractive place to live because of its schools, low tax rates and good quality of life.
“Growth is going to happen, just like the folks that moved from Charlotte or other states to be here and they are welcomed,” Aikmus said. “We don’t have a choice because the market dictates where growth occurs, and when you create an environment that people want to live in and raise their families and want to work in, that’s what’s going to happen. The best thing we can do is continue trying to control growth the best we can in the county proper and to continue to grow our commercial tax base so that we can take the burden of taxes off of the residents.”
As a community banker, Aikmus said he works with businesses and people every day and understands the needs of the county. He said his strategy of advocating for lower taxes, economic growth and quality education will not change.
“I’m a conservative, I’ve cut your taxes, I’m funding your schools and providing essential services, all the while making Union County a great place to work and live,” Aikmus said.