02/21/08 — Gurley running for at-large seat on commission

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Gurley running for at-large seat on commission

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 21, 2008 1:45 PM

After spending the last two years helping to design the new Wayne County Comprehensive Plan, Chris Gurley has decided that he would like to have a voice in how it's implemented, filing for the Democratic nomination for the county Commission at-large seat.

"I'm running for all of Wayne County. I'm not running for a specific group. Our county is a great place to live and work, and I want to continue to be a part of the enhancement of Wayne County through pro-active government and not re-active policy," he said. "I've been told you can't run the county like a business, but I feel like you can.

"Planning and growing should be done with fiscal responsibility to all taxpayers, and we should decide what level of governmental services we are willing to pay for and then move toward that goal."

More specifically, he continued, he wants to be part of helping continue the improvements to the county school system.

"The main reason (for running) is to try to help move forward with the school plan," Gurley said. "I think I can help bring the two boards together. In the leadership positions I've had, I've been able to look at both sides and bring things to fruition.

"I think some others have tried, but I think I can bring the ideas together and help them go. We want to do it right and do it right the first time."

That means, he explained, doing other things like enhancing the county's water systems and laying the ground work for countywide sewer in preparation for future growth.

"We don't want to end up in the same boat as Raleigh is in," he said. "They overbuilt their infrastructure and we don't want to end up in that same situation."

Equally important, he added, is finding ways to use reclaimed water, specifically for irrigation and fire suppression purposes, in order to minimize the amount being discharged into rivers and streams.

It also, he continued, means continuing to support the county's emergency services department, as well as its fire departments like Belfast Volunteer Fire Department, where the Goldsboro resident has been a member for 24 years and currently is serving as chief.

Additionally, Gurley said, "doing it right," means recruiting new business and industry, while maintaining those that are here and preserving the county's agricultural economy and heritage -- something he feels qualified to help with given his background as the owner of a small business, Turf Master.

What it does not mean, though, he noted, is blindly cutting taxes.

"I want to do what I can to help reduce the tax burden," he said. "I'd love to cut taxes, but we've got to decide what programs we want, and every program has a cost. I do support a sales tax increase, though, instead of an increase on real property."

But at the end of the day, he acknowledged that nothing can be done without cooperation on the board.

"I am not a yes man. I'm going to do what I think is right, but I will strive to be open-minded with other boards, agencies and fellow commissioners to put our differences aside in order to achieve our goals," he said. "I want to leave this county in the hands of our children so that they, too, can live, work and play in Wayne County, just as I had the privilege to experience."

"And I think we need somebody of my age (39) on the board. I'm not going to be able to be at every little thing. My family comes first and my business second, but if I tell you I'm going to do something for the county, I will.

"But if after four years, I don't feel like I've helped and the people don't feel like I've helped, I'll be glad to step aside and let somebody else try."

Also filed for the at-large seat are Democrats Sandra McCullen and Darrell Horne, and Republicans Jeff Jennings and Hal Keck.