Candidates weigh in during forum

Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

September 1, 2013

Jonesville candidates took time from their Labor Day weekend Saturday to participate in a public forum.

Jonesville mayoral candidate Gene Pardue and town commissioner candidates Anita Darnell and Judy Wolfe took turns answering questions during the weekend’s flea market and festival in Lila Swaim Memorial Park.

Pardue is currently Mayor Pro-Tem of Jonesville. Darnell is president of the Tourism Development Authority for Jonesville, and Wolfe is the head of the Jonesville Historical Society.

Candidates Jerry Wood, Tommy Casstevens and Andy Green did not attend.

Retired Starmount teacher and coach Danny Macemore moderated the forum and took questions from attendees. The questions were submitted prior to the forum start and then written onto pieces of paper to be read before the crowd.

Several questions were submitted but only nine were agreed on by the candidates to answer.

The candidates answered the questions in a random order. Anita Darnell began each round of questions, followed by Gene Pardue and closed by Judy Wolfe.

Each candidate was limited to two minutes per question.

Question 1: What can be done to make Jonesville a more attractive town?

Darnell said the town needed to clean up around Exit 82, the exit where Jonesville meets Interstate 77. She added that street lights at Exit 82 and on Main Street might “let people know that we’re here.”

Pardue said that some areas in town were becoming unattractive and needed to be cleaned up. He also suggested doing fall clean-ups to help better the town’s appearance.

Wolfe said every street or area in town should have a spokesperson who would report to the town board what they would like to see happen. One such example was if a neighbor or business was not maintaining their yard mowing.

Question 2: If elected, would you do all in your power for Jonesville to have a nice library facility, like those in Boonville, Yadkinville and East Bend?

Darnell said she absolutely would. She said she and the Jonesville Business Association have been working to better the library’s appearance already.

Pardue said they would help the library out as the town could. Pardue said the town board was already giving money to the library each year and the library was working to sell items and raise money in addition to that money. He also said the town had given the library the neighboring heating and cooling building for them to move into.

Wolfe said grant writing like that done by Boonville when it upgraded its library was the solution. She also said all areas of the town government needed grant writing to help bring money into Jonesville.

Question 3: If elected, would you work to hire a recreation director, even if it means the elimination of one police officer?

The question was in relation to Lila Swaim Memorial Park and its usage.

Darnell said the question was a tricky one but said yes. She said she would like to see Lila Swaim Memorial Park be more usable and beautified. As far as the police officer goes, Darnell said that would be something they would have to look at to see if they needed to hire another officer or fire one.

Pardue said there was still some money in the park fund, some of which was spent to redo the tennis courts in the park. He said that leftover money was still available for usage at the park.

Wolfe said lots of people use the park but not to the extent needed to eliminate a police officer position. She suggested “creative” uses of personnel and personnel funds, including the recreation funds for the park, that could be used to enhance the park.

Wolfe also suggested partnering with other local parks and communities in their recreation programs, as well as renting a bus to take citizens to tourist activities in other areas.

Question 4: If the Chamber of Commerce should come up with a request for the town to schedule a referendum to let the citizens decide if the town should sponsor a lottery to raise “much needed funds,” would you vote for a referendum to be held?

None of the candidates elected to answer this question.

Question 5: If the town should come up short on funds to pay all the municipal expenses, would you vote to raise the tax rate?

Pardue said that once a budget is passed it is good for a year, and that he could not see the town passing a budget it it would fall short of it. He added that it was a loaded question.

Darnell agreed.

Wolfe said if there was a shortfall the town should look at the cause, whether it be the water department or some other area. She said if the town found itself in that situation mid-year it should readjust its budget and cut back on its line items, not raise taxes mid-year.

Question 6: If elected, what will you do to keep the curbsides on Jonesville streets neat, clean, and always free of weeds and trash?

The candidates felt they had already answered the question.

Question 7: What can be to done to persuade “Yankees” traveling south to consider making Jonesville their retirement home?

Darnell said the southern hospitality was a major draw. She said to keep doing what the town is already doing.

Pardue joked that you never hear of Southerners moving north, only the opposite.

Pardue said the town needs to be kept clean and needs to do whatever it can to invite people into it.

Wolfe said people come back all the time to Jonesville because they enjoyed it the first time. She said the effort needs to be on getting people into town the first time: through billboards on the interstate and promoting local features.

Question 8: In your opinion, what does Jonesville need more than anything else?

Darnell said the town needs a marketing program to get other businesses into town and to let people know about Jonesville.

Pardue agreed, saying Jonesville currently gives the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce $11,500 each year. He said the town should use that money itself because it was not benefiting from giving it to the chamber.

Wolfe said the town should, and could, hire someone to do marketing and grant writing with money the town already has. She said hire someone to be a grant writer and marketing director.

Question 9: Why are you running for office and what do you hope to accomplish?

Darnell said she had worked in Jonesville since she was 14 years old and lived in town for 17 years.

She wants to help the town, not change it, she said. She added that she wanted to be a part of Jonesville.

Pardue said those running were doing it for the good of the town, not for the pay. He hoped to see Jonesville get out from under the debt of the water plant and possibly lower water rates.

He hopes to see Jonesville sell some of its water to Boonville to help pay off the new plant’s cost.

Wolfe said she was running because Jonesville was her home and she wanted to see it and its citizens prosper. She said the poverty and unemployment was troubling, and the fluctuation of water rates needed to be examined.

She said everyone, not just officials, need to be involved in the town.

Closing comments

Darnell and Pardue declined to give a closing comment since the last question had basically given that. Wolfe explained her reason for being a write-in candidate.

Wolfe had been unsure if she would be able to run due to her health concerns earlier in the year. After recovering partially she decided to run as a write-in candidate because the deadline for filing with Yadkin County has passed.

Danny Macemore asked for additional questions from the audience but no one stepped forward. He closed the forum by saying that even as a non-resident he was very proud of Jonesville.

“I’ve never lived in Jonesville’s city limit proper,” Macemore said, “but I’ve always had an address as Jonesville, North Carolina - zipcode 28642, and I’ve told it all over the world. I would like for Jonesville to prosper and grow. And again, it’s not going to happen just because of these three people on here. It’s going to happen because the people in Jonesville want it to grow, and grow in the correct manner.”

To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.