01/28/08 — Keck adds his name to commission candidates

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Keck adds his name to commission candidates

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on January 28, 2008 1:45 PM

After losing to Commissioner Atlas Price by less than 300 votes in 2004, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Harold "Hal" Keck has decided to run again for the Wayne County Commissioner At-Large seat.

"During my first try I ran on a platform that focused on three issues," Keck said. "First, I wanted to encourage fiscal responsibility with your money. Second, I wanted to encourage economic development via effective management of government, improving roads, supporting schools, expanding our local airports and supporting effective law enforcement. Third, I wanted to ensure adequate funding to improve, enhance and expand as necessary, social service programs."

And, Keck continued, all of those issues are just as important today as they were then.

"I'm not sure they're getting better or worse, very truthfully. After four years, I believe many of the same problems exist, and at this stage of my life, I have the time and energy to commit myself to finding and implementing the necessary solutions -- all while being a good steward of your tax dollars," he said.

Running for the Republican nomination in May, Keck, owner of Houser Associates Real Estate on Spence Avenue, believes it's time for a new perspective on the county commission.

"I have nothing against Atlas Price. I think Atlas Price is a good man. But Atlas Price has been on the board for almost 20 years. I think it's time for a fresh voice," he said.

Among his top concerns is the fact that property taxes have continued to increase during the last four years.

"They've raised taxes and the normal person can't really see where those moneys have gone, and now they're trying to put an initiative on the ballot to raise a sales tax," he said.

He also feels that enough hasn't been done for economic development.

"I left here in 1958 because there weren't any jobs to be had in Wayne County, and now it still looks like there aren't many jobs to be had," Keck said.

It's particularly discouraging, he continued, when an announcement like AT&T's is followed by a closing like GAF.

"We've seen dribs and drabs of economic growth. Maybe the emphasis needs to be on small businesses, rather than these large businesses," he said -- at least until infrastructure such as roads can be improved.

"We have not emphasized road infrastructure enough," he said "I don't think we have been as forceful as we could be with our state legislators to get money from our state government to enhance Highway 70 and Highway 55."

But, he continued, aside from his ideas, what makes him most qualified to help lead the county is his 17 years of business and 27 years of military experience, and his desire to turn what many people see as a part-time job into a full-time service.

"As a small businessman I feel like I know how to watch my nickels and dimes and how to create jobs," he said. "And, I've got the financial resources I do not have to work every day. I can use my time for the good of the people.

"My whole life has been one of public service and that's a high calling. I believe anyone who has the ability should serve the people in some way."

And that's one reason why he is running for the at-large seat, he said.

A resident of the Falling Brook community outside Goldsboro, Keck, 67, is in commission District 1.

However, he said, "I would never run against Andy Anderson and that only leaves one seat."

"But no matter if you're elected to represent one district or not, once you're elected, you really represent all the people," he continued. "I'm going to try to listen to all the people so that I represent what they really want, not just what I think they want."