02/17/08 — Danny Beckwith running for county commission District 1

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Danny Beckwith running for county commission District 1

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 17, 2008 2:05 AM

Believing that no elected official should serve more than two terms in office, Pikeville resident Danny Beckwith announced Monday that he will seek the Republican nomination for the Wayne County Board of Commissioners District 1 seat.

It's the spot currently held by four-term incumbent Andy Anderson, who also has decided to run for re-election.

"I just think it's time for a change," Beckwith said. "I think we need to have term limits. I don't think we need to have a ruling class of politicians. To me, two terms is long enough for anyone."

But Beckwith doesn't just want to change the county's leadership, he is also concerned about the school system and about the direction of the county's economic development agenda.

To him, beyond facilities and programs, the biggest problem with the public schools is drugs.

"We need to get the drugs out the schools," he said. "I think that we're raising a generation of drug dealing kids who don't have any dreams, at least from what I've seen.

"We need to get the drugs out of the schools any way it takes."

That means, he continued, increasing law enforcement presence on school property and allowing the sheriff's office to conduct full-scale searches without prior student notification or delay -- an issue that has been discussed at county commission meetings several times within the last year.

And as far as the rest of the education system goes, he added, he would be more interested in putting money into improving program and teacher quality than into facilities.

"Buildings do not educate children. Teachers educate children," he said.

But education is not his only concern.

He also noted that it's disheartening to talk about improving the school system and about giving children better opportunities when most of the good ones leave the county anyway.

"You have to leave to find good jobs," Beckwith said. "Wayne County has hung itself so much on Seymour (Johnson Air Force Base), and somewhere down the line, Seymour is going away.

"We've got to get something else in here. I think we need to be bringing new businesses to the county."

Helping do that, though, he continued, would be a lower tax rate and more fiscal responsibility.

The problem, he opinioned, is that there seems to be little incentive for county departments to save money throughout the year -- that they are encouraged to spend down their allocation or risk being penalized with less the next year.

Instead, he proposed that anything saved during the year be put into a long-term reserve fund for building projects.

"(The commissioners) are holding the purse strings to everything and that's my tax dollars they're spending," he said.

But most of all, said Beckwith, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and part owner of Atlantic Auctions, he is running for the county commission seat because he wants to, and feels that he can, make a difference in Wayne County.

"I'd just like to give something back to the community," he said. "I just think I'm eat up with good old common sense, and that's a lot of (the job)."