1. What uniquely qualifies you to serve as a county commissioner?
I’ve served as a county commissioner for three terms. I’ve proven myself to be fiscally responsible, accountable and loyal to the citizens of Robeson County.
2. The Robeson County Board of Commissioners, at just more than $500 per student, provides funding to the local schools at the second lowest level of the 100 counties in North Carolina. As a commissioner, would you work to provide more funding for the local schools? Why or why not?
I believe that school funding for our students in the Public Schools of Robeson County should be at least funded to the state average in a effort to improve student performance.
3. Robeson County has a problem with roadside trash. The county has established a Clean and Green Committee, but it appears that as soon as one roadside is clear, a week later it is trashy again. Do you have any unique ideas on how to approach this problem? If so, can you detail?
Roadside trash cleanup should be the responsibility of the county jail inmates. Misdemeanor and trustee inmates should be tasked with the responsibilities of keeping our county roads clean.
4. The Robeson County commissioners are the best paid and benefited in North Carolina, and our county is among the poorest. This is true when pay, stipend, retirement, health insurance are totaled up. Do you think commissioners in a poor county are deserving of the best pay and benefits, or should they be scaled back?
For the most part, the majority of the county commissioners represent their districts very well. Therefore, their pay should be based on their performance.
5. There is a perception among many people that nepotism and cronyism play a role in key hiring decisions for the county. Do you agree with that? If so, what would you do to end that?
I do agree with that statement. In order to bring an end to these practices, one of two things must take place. Positions need to be interviewed and recommendations made by an outside source, or get rid of Raymond Cummings, Roger Oxendine and their lapdog, which would allow county administration to perform their duties.
6. The Board of Commissioners recently considered the purchase of the Angel Exchange for use by the schools as a central office. That talk has died down. Do you think it will be resurrected after the election, and what is your position on its possible purchase?
I feel certain that this topic will come up again after the election is over. I personally will under no circumstances support the purchase of the Angel Exchange.
7. Robeson County’s tax rate, at 77 cents for every $100 of property, ranks in the top 25 highest in the state. Do you have any ideas on how to reduce the rate without a dramatic reduction in services?
There are two things that Robeson County has an abundance of and that is land and criminal offenders. I would like to see our county invest in a program that would lower the tax rate, the crime rate, and offset the cost of inmate housing while generating revenue. I propose that we invest in a pilot program in the form of a cannery. We would grow and harvest our own produce using inmate labor. In the process it would teach work ethics, and accountability.
The start up funding would come from the millions of dollars that are being held by the federal government from Operation Tarnished Badge. This venture will generate revenue that would enable us to establish a lower tax rate for our citizens and create additional jobs.
8. Do you think it is important for the county administrative offices to be located in Lumberton, which has the highest population and is in the center of the county?
I think it is important that our county office remains in Lumberton our county seat, which is the most centrally located area for all our constituents.
9. Robeson County’s unemployment rate remains higher than the state and nation’s. Also, many of our jobs, especially in the service industry, don’t provide a livable wage and are without benefits, with the result being about 40,000 people in the county depending on food stamps. The lack of jobs also drives our crime rate, the highest in the state. What new ideas, if any, do you have that can be implemented to try to bring more jobs to the county?
One of the best tools that Robeson County should explore when attempting to lure industry to the area would be to hire an economic development director that is concerned with the economic development needs of the county as a whole and not just one area. The economic development director’s salary should be based on performance. In addition to this there should be an increase in incentives in exchange for businesses willing to locate within the county and to provide jobs that pay a livable wage with benefits.
10. Question to myself: If a county commissioner is delinquent on his/her taxes, should their stipend be garnished for payment?
As county commissioners we should lead by example. Therefore, if a county commissioner is delinquent on his/her taxes their stipend should be garnished for payment.