Candidates tell about selves at Mount Olive breakfast forum
By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 22, 2010 1:46 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Candidates at a Thursday morning breakfast were asked to check their partisan rhetoric at the door, and to spend their allotted three minutes talking about themselves.
However, that didn't stop a few of the candidates from both sides of the aisle from taking potshots at their opponents -- mostly in the sheriff and House District 10 races.
Approximately 50 people, including 12 candidates, attended the meet-the-candidates breakfast , which was held at Mount Olive College.
Glenn Barnes, Democratic candidate for sheriff, said that it was time for a transition in the office.
He told the crowd to "put aside that I have more education and experience than the current sheriff" and instead focus on the position.
Barnes said he wants to improve training and customer service including the possible use of a mobile office and substations. He said he also wants to build stronger cooperative ties with other law enforcement agencies.
"I want to move into the communities, and I want to bring the Sheriff's Office out to the people," he said.
Barnes said he would base promotions on qualifications and not the favoritism that he says is used now.
He said he would look at cost-cutting measures including the feasibility of the office's helicopter and ensuring that deputies adhere to the county's vehicle idling policy.
Sheriff Carey Winders, a Republican, spoke about his 10 years in the Goldsboro Police Department and 16 years as sheriff. He said he has attended the FBI Command College and numerous other law enforcement classes and training session.
"I know you have seen the changes (in the office)," he said. "There are budget restraints. (The commissioners) passed the budget, then 10 minutes later froze the budget."
Winders said his office has utilized grants and revenues from seized drug assets to help with various operational issues in the office.
He said his office already has strong ties to area law enforcement.
Winders also said he spends a lot of time attending events and visiting communities across the county.
HOUSE DISTRICT 10
District 10 Rep. Van Braxton, D-Lenoir, spoke about his experiences as a business owner and legislator.
"It has been a tough time in North Carolina" he said. "We have lost 275,000 jobs over the last two years. However, we have added 20,000 over the last two months."
It will be challenging to balance the next state budget, since lawmakers will not have any federal stimulus funding to work with, he said. Adding to that problem is the sales tax that is scheduled to lapse, he said.
"It is easy to balance the budget of North Carolina if the people want the cuts -- 100 students in a classroom, letting all of the inmates out of the prisons except for the murders and rapists," he said.
Challenger Stephen Laroque, R-Lenoir, said the state is at a crossroads and that voters have to decide which way they want to go.
"We have put tons of debt on our children and grandchildren he said. "We cannot afford it. Our tax rate is the highest in the Southeast. We are not tax friendly, we are not business friendly."
The state will be $3 billion in the red when lawmakers convene in January, he said. An undefended state pension plan and other issues make the deficit more like $5 billion, he said.
"I can tell you folks, the Republicans did not do that," he said. "The Democrats have been in charge for 105 years."
SENATE DISTRICT 5
District 5 Senator Don Davis, D-Greene, said legislators had worked hard during the past session and that the challenges ahead called for "tough leadership."
"The way to move the economy ahead is first to find jobs for displaced workers," Davis said.
Former state legislator Louis Pate, R-Wayne, who is challenging Davis, said that voters are going to have to decide if they are going to move forward and try to move the economy or if they are just going to settle for the "same old, same old."
He agreed some progress has been made, but added that much more remains to be done.
Pate said the state's job is provide the infrastructure and education and "then back out of the way" and let the businesses do what is needed.
Also, the state needs to rid itself of the onerous regulations that hamper businesses, he said.
HOUSE DISTRICT 21
House District 21 Rep. Larry Bell, D-Sampson, used his time to speak about his role as an educator and commissioner in Sampson County.
He noted that at one point not only was he superintendent of the Sampson County Public Schools, he was a county commissioner as well.
Legislators' main job is to "get a budget," Bell said.
"I have experience to bring to the table," he said.
Deann Poirier, R-Wayne, said as a homeschooling mom she understands balance. Her husband, Dean, is a candidate for the court of appeals.
"We are concerned about the welfare of our state and community," she said. "I appreciate the challenge and as Rep. (Efton) Sager said this year again we are going to face major challenges of talking to each department and letting them make decisions (about budget cuts)."
SCHOOL BOARD DISTRICT 5
Arnold Flowers, who is running for the District 5 School Board seat said that while he did not go to college, he did learn to read and write and that had enabled him to become a successful businessman and to retire at age 55.
He said that he thinks his experience as former Wayne County commissioner will help him bring unity between the school board and commissioners.
He said disunity among commissioners and school boards can be seen in other counties. In Duplin County, the school board sued the commission and in that case the only winners were the lawyers, Flowers said.
Flowers said he did not understand why teachers have to purchase supplies with their own money.
He said he recently spoke with a parent who told him the school did not have enough history textbooks to go around. Flowers said the man told him he had bought the $90 book for his child.
Chamber President Tyler Barwick said District 5 School Board member George Moye told her he was unable to attend the event because of a prior commitment.
Unopposed candidates who spoke were Clerk of Court Pam Minshew, District Attorney Branny Vickory, District 4 School Board member John Grantham and state House District 11 Rep. Efton Sager.