02/18/08 — Jennings joins race for open at-large position

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Jennings joins race for open at-large position

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 18, 2008 1:51 PM

Faced with a wide-open Wayne County Commission At-Large seat, Jeff Jennings has announced his decision to enter the race for the Republican nomination when he filed to become an official candidate.

"I'm running at large because I want to represent all the people in Wayne County in this position," he said. "I'm running on 'It's time for change in Wayne County.'"

Jennings, owner of Wayne Aviation and former owner of Ash Street Auto, explained that with his background in business, his primary focus will be on improving economic growth in Wayne County.

"I'm a pro-business conservative that believes in bringing in jobs and supporting businesses in Wayne County to grow Wayne County. I think we educate our children very well in Wayne County just to send them off to look for jobs in other places," he said. "I want to bring growth and opportunity to the citizens of Wayne County."

If local officials can do that, he continued -- if they can convince more of Wayne County's educated youths to come back home to work -- then the stronger families and, by extension, the community will become.

"We need stronger families and a stronger community," he said. "If we had new businesses here, families could locate here and stay here, and we could strengthen the family."

And, Jennings continued, he is willing to do what's necessary to attract those businesses and opportunities, even if it means using tax-based incentives to draw new corporations.

"That's pretty much a given today," he said. "(Companies) are looking for something to move here."

In particular, he continued, he thinks that with the right marketing approach -- especially one emphasizing the low cost of living -- Wayne County could have a lot of potential in terms of computer-based technology businesses.

To meet that potential, though, Jennings continued, the county has to maintain its quality schools.

"I am for continuing a strong education system, and I am for bolstering our schools and for possibly looking at new schools," he said. "However, I am also for a definite accounting by the school board of what they have now and what they need."

The problem is, he continued, there is only so much money to go around.

"All the county offices want something, and I think it's just a matter of priorities," he said. "I'm looking forward to delving into the county budget and working with these county offices to do the best we can for them. We only have so much money, and you have to balance your checkbook just like a family does."

And, said Jennings, 44, of Goldsboro, it's that's the kind of common sense, fiscally responsible, business-like approach he wants to bring to the board of commissioners.

"I've always had an interest in politics and I think my being an businessman will bring a lot of good experience to the county," he said.

Also running for the Republican nomination is Hal Keck. Filed for the Democratic nomination are Chris Gurley, Sandra McCullen and Darrell Horne.