10/08/08 — Chamber sponsors forum for candidates

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Chamber sponsors forum for candidates

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on October 8, 2008 1:46 PM

A "meet-and-greet" candidate event sponsored by the Government Affairs Committee of the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce gave a number of local and state candidates two minutes each to state their platforms in front of about 50 people Monday night.

The event was held at the Arts Council building on Ash Street.

Maybe it was the cultured atmosphere or maybe it was because they only had two minutes, but candidates kept the gloves on and displayed marked cordialness to their opponents.

The highlights of the evening were County Commissioner Jack Best's tongue-in-cheek comment that he would like to thank people for their vote but that his wife would "probably thank those who don't." And commission Chairman Bud Gray ceded his final seconds to Board of Education Chairwoman Thelma Smith, "just to show you'all" that he and Smith are friendly in their relations, even if their boards sometimes take opposing views of some issues.

Here are statements by the other candidates who attended.

*Willie Ray Starling, Commissioner District 5: "Taxes in Wayne County are too high, government is too large ... I will be a voice for the working people in Wayne County."

*Don Davis, Senate District 5, "It's important to look at ways we can grow businesses internally." He said community colleges will be crucial to the economic development of the region.

*David Rouzer, state Senate District 12, "We need to reform government from top to bottom. Government is no the solution in so many cases, it's the problem."

*Sandra Braxton (speaking for her husband, Van Braxton of state House District 10): "Too many of the larger cities get the big bucks. He has worked hard to help bring home some of that money to eastern North Carolina."

*Ronnie Griffin, state House District 11, "I think you all want the same things for your children ... a world-class education ... and we need to improve our infrastructure ... I'll work to help do that."

*Efton Sager, state House District 11, "I'm real concerned about state spending. It's out of control." He added that would work to change the procedure for state funding of schools.

*Sandra McCullen, county Commissioner At-Large: "I am a collaborator and I hope to bring a team effort to the commissioners and school board (during discussions over money.)"

*Hal Keck, county Commissioner At-large: "I believe I am uniquely qualified to serve as a commissioner, both by my experience and my vision of eastern North Carolina and Wayne County. ... I want for our children to have a good education, with clean, safe facilities and good teachers who earn good wages."

*Charles Bruton, county Commissioner District 1, Bruton complimented the work of incumbent Andy Anderson but added that, "I feel voters are saying they need a new voice in county government." Bruton said Wayne should build a water reservoir to help during drought.

*Andy Anderson, county Commissioner District 1, "I think my record is pretty well established after 16 years. My goal is more business and I will do everything I can to see that happen." Anderson added that he believes building infrastructure is the key to business development and that it also helps build the county's tax base, allowing commissioners to keep property taxes low."

*John Bell, county Commissioner District 3. "I have the experience to continue to do the job I've done for the past eight years. Our county is in good shape. ... A vote for me is a vote for progress."

*Frank Pearsall, county Commissioner District 3, "We need fresh ideas in Wayne County. We can no longer afford to allow politics to play a large role in our children's education. ... We've had first downs but now it's time to score some touchdowns."

*Steve Keen, county Commissioner District 4, "My focus will be on making a positive difference in your life. ...I am driven by values and vision. ... My most important characteristic is integrity. ... After 35 years in the service business, I know how to get things done right."

*Joe Daughtery, county Commissioner District 6, "There has been a lot of bitterness between the schools and the commissioners. A commissioner has got to be effective and you can't be effective if you are bitter. I think it's time for a new voice. The people who are really paying the price are our children."

*Jack Best, county Commissioner District 6, said he is sometimes criticized unfairly for being hard on school officials. "I'm here to ask hard questions. The commissioners support the schools (but) we have to ask hard questions. I will continue to ask hard questions."

*Jerry Braswell, Superior Court judge, "I ask you and all voters to look at my record and ask the persons who work in the court system ... I think our court system is in excellent shape."

*Arnold Jones, Superior Court judge, "As a judge, I plan to work hard ... I will take my family values to my courtroom. You have to be able to trust the court system and therefore you have to be able to trust those running the court system."

*Charles Gaylor, District Court judge, "I promise will work as hard as I have in my law practice." Gaylor cited his 30 years of experience in law and reminded votes that the judicial race is on the back page of the ballot.

*Chris Rogerson, District Court judge, "What we want is a judicial system that is fair and efficient." Rogerson said. He said installing closed-circuit TV for first appearances and handling lower-class felonies at the district court level, as state law permits, would make the courts more efficient.

*Ven Faulk, Board of Education At-Large, "We have to build bridges with the county commissioners and I feel I can do that." Faulk noted his business experience as a positive and said his goal is "to make the schools the best they can be."

*Eddie Radford, Board of Education At-Large, "I'm not a politician, I'm an educator. I'm running for the kids, I'm not running for anything other than that." He added that his experience in the school system and as a businessman would help him work with the commissioners.

*Thelma Smith, Board of Education District 3, "I have a passion for children and to serve on the school board you need to have that." She noted improved relations with the school board over money issues and said she and Gray intended to put an end to the bickering between the two boards.