Last updated: October 31. 2013 8:47PM - 1377 Views
By - agonzalez@civitasmedia.com



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Voters head to the polls next Tuesday for an election ushering in the next three commissioners for the Elkin Board of Commissioners.


According to the Surry County Board of Elections, six candidates will appear on the election ballot on Nov. 5 for the three commissioner positions, with the top three vote-getters taking the spots.


Elkin has five Board of Commissioner positions in its total makeup. All commissioners are elected to a four-year term.


Two commissioners are not up for re-election this year — J.L. Lowe, Jr. and Skip Whitman.


Two incumbents are up for re-election, Cicely McCulloch and Terry Kennedy, with the third seat being considered “open” after Commissioner Joe Walker announced he would not be seeking re-election.


The registered candidates on the ballot are: James C. Ipock, Bob Norton, Jeffrey C. Eidson, Cicely Coley McCulloch, Terry Kennedy and Charles Bellia.


All candidates were asked to submit a response to a questionnaire. Below are the responses in order by which they were received:


Candidate - James C. Ipock


Education/military: Honor Graduate Starmount High School/Academic Scholar ASU, Boone, NC


Current employment and /or most recent prior to retirement: “Currently unemployed subsisting on investment income following debilitating illness in family/formerly employed in apparel manufacturing.”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so, what office did you hold and for how long? “No.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioners?


I have been encourages by fellow citizens as well as local media representatives over the years to seek election to municipal office as a dedicated, tenacious public advocate. I have concluded that accountability and integrity in the democratic process here have been adversely compromised for many years and must be reaffirmed by an alienated electorate resigned to its fate. Dismal voter participation and subdued citizen involvement have enabled the prevailing powers that be to virtually monopolize local government for decades. The nonvoters who enable this sad state of affairs must confront it by overruling the few who unwittingly contribute to its longevity in a state of denial. The arrogance and indifference that I have encountered at Elkin Town Hall as a concerned citizen with no willingness to compromise on the most critical issues confronting the citizenry have inspired my candidacy and commitment to a change of the guard.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election race?


“I am devoid of attachment or allegiance to special interests with an agenda that is in conflict with the greater common good of the citizenry. I would live by the oath of office rather than merely recite it with ulterior motives. People are flesh and bone, not nameless, faceless entities or account numbers on billing statements and deserve to be treated as such. I do not presume to preach, but justice for ALL rings hollow when the elite thrive upon the plight of the least of us.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“Our most daunting task is confronting the loss of our manufacturing base that was confined to textiles and furniture with little to replace such devastating losses. We must endeavor to diversify the local economy rather than rely upon retail trade and service industry that do not compensate for manufacturing losses. It will perhaps take generations for us to recoup those devastating losses, and government must make concessions to weather hard times rather than place the bulk of the hardship upon the public.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“My most critical issues are punitive water and sewer rents that undermine the very concept of incorporation, the largess of local government unwilling to put its own house in order to address a sustained bad economy, and to foster citizen involvement and participation in local government rather than discourage it.”


Do you feel that increasing Elkin’s property-tax rate was appropriate?


“No. A revenue-neutral tax policy is advisable in lean years. Government by its very nature is self-indulgent. The electorate should respond accordingly.”


Candidate - Bob Norton


Education/military:


“Graduate of Page High School, Greensboro. Attended Guilford College, Veteran - U.S. Naval Reserves 1963-1969.”


Current employment and/or most recent prior to retirement: “Licensed real estate broker, semi-retired. Work three days at Hatch, Inc, Sr. purchasing agent.”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so, what office did you hold and for how long? “First run for elected office. Served 9 years on Elkin Planning Board as co-chair.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioner?


“I have lived in Elkin for 32 years and have strong attachment to this community. I feel I can be objective in dealing with issues facing our town and would be a voice for the people.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election race?


“An open mind and a willingness to serve. I have lived here a long time and been active in the community and feel I am familiar withe the issues facing our town. I certainly don’t have the answers, but would look forward to working with the board to find the best solutions.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“Budgets more in line with what we can afford, hold the line on property taxes, water and sewer infrastructure cost containment, economic development, Main Street project, roads, property values vs. zoning enforcement, North Elkin fire protection, enforcing leash law.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“Property taxes, water and sewer costs, economic development.”


Do you believe the town raising property taxes was appropriate?


“My initial response to any tax increase is not in favor of the increase. However, I have not heard or seen all the facts that the current board had to deal with and what issues caused them to feel an increase was in order. I do believe we need to be fiscally responsible in our spending and be sensitive to our aging community. As a commissioner, I would seek ways to hold the line on spending.”


Candidate - Jeffrey C. Eidson


Education/military:


“1979 Graduate Elkin High School, 1983 Graduate University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill, BSBA with concentration in accounting.”


Current employment and/or most recent prior to retirement:


“President G & B Energy, Elkin, NC”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so,what office did you hold and for how long?


“No prior political office.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioner?


“Felt compelled to file for commissioners race when I learned there was only one candidate for three open seats just a couple of days before filing deadline. Believe voters deserve a choice in who represents their interests in town government.


Confident I have the experience and leadership skills necessary to contribute in meaningful way as the mayor and town board address current and future challenges facing our community.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election race?


“Experience, leadership, business focus. Past chairman/past president -Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, Yadkin Valley United Fund, Tri-County Citizens Foundation, Surry County Economic Development Partnership (Charter Chairman), past board member -Elkin Recreation Advisory Committee, Piedmont Triad Partnership, Graduate Leadership Surry Program, member and past treasurer of First United Methodist Church, certified public accountant.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“The Town of Elkin, like almost all municipalities face unprecedented budgetary challenges resulting from; contraction in property tax base and corresponding decrease in property tax revenue; reduction in funding through revenue sharing from local, state and federal sources; increasing costs of providing current services; looming capital costs associated with aging infrastructure (water system, streets, municipal buildings, etc) and demand for expanded services (second fire station, etc); declining general fund balance.


In addition, the Town is finding it more and more important to drive local economic development and job creation efforts.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“I do not have a personal agenda or set of priorities going into the election. I believe our elected officials have a long established track record of fiscal responsibility and sound management practices. We are all blessed to live in the “Best Little Town in NC” and I simply look forward to working with our elected officials and staff to tackle the challenges facing our Town in a positive and proactive manner to insure we preserve and protect all our community has to offer for future generations.”


Do you believe the town raising property taxes was appropriate?


“I believe the decision to raise the property tax rate was a difficult one and one that was not taken lightly by the current board. After reviewing all the relevant budgetary considerations, I believe raising the property tax rate was not only appropriate, but that it was absolutely essential in order to preserve the town’s long-term financial health. By taking appropriate measures now to boost declining revenues and avoid further depletion of fund balance reserves, the board has moved proactively to protect us from having to face more drastic measures in the next three to five years.”


Candidate - Terry Kennedy (incumbent)


Education/military:


“I attended high school and college and education is very important. However, considering that 43 percent of our legislators in Congress have a law degree at last count, and that we have witnessed such dysfunction in our government, it would appear the deficit or missing ingredient for good government at all levels isn’t a lack of education, but rather a healthy measure of common sense.”


Current employment and/or most recent prior to retirement:


“Kennedy Land & Homes, LLC Real Estate.”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so, what office did you hold and for how long?


“Elkin Commissioner (4) yrs / Elkin Planning and Board of Adjustment (6) yrs.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioner?


“I feel fortunate to have been born and raised in Elkin and had the opportunity to raise my (2) sons here. And although we have lost 4000+ jobs in the textile and furniture industry, Elkin has not only survived, we are revitalizing and reshaping Elkin for the future. Elkin would not exist today without the contributions of many dedicated, generous men and women, past and present. I am running in hopes of contributing in some small way to our continued success.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election race?


“I can’t honestly say I bring anything unique to the process or imply that I have all the answers - I don’t. What I can say is that I have learned a great deal in my first (4) years as to how Town Government works and that it is a time consuming and sometimes difficult job for Staff, Mayor, and Commissioners. I can state that I am always concerned about what is best for Elkin as a whole and that any investment of taxpayer dollars should benefit all of Elkin, in one way or another.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“As with most small towns throughout the state, our infrastructure (i.e. water lines and associated systems) have been out of sight and out of mind for years. Correcting one problem area only results in the need to correct another. Replacing these systems will have to be done at some point in the future; and considering we have been on borrowed time for some years, the future will be sooner than we think.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“I can’t predict what will be a top priority in the next (4) years. It will depend on monies available and existing obligations of the Town when deciding what may be a priority. Each Commissioner may have an area of interest they would like to see advance, and however desirable or worthy an interest it may be, it must be weighed against what we have committed to do and what we are required to do moving forward. The balancing act between what we have to do and what we would like to is a challenge.”


Do you believe the town raising property taxes was appropriate?


“Considering that from 2000 to 2013, the Town took from the undesignated Fund Balance (Monies on hand the Town can spend for any legal expense) $2,904,325.00 to offset the difference between what residents were paying for Water & Sewer and what it actually cost the Town to provide these services. With the investment in our present and future Economic Development totaling an additional $1.4 million (i.e. The Elkin Center (SCC), land acquisition, grading at our Corporate Park and other investments for Economic growth), the Town needed to replenish the Fund Balance. In order to do so, taxes were raised. I have no desire to pay more taxes than anyone else, however, if we intend to continue the services and maintain the quality of life in Elkin we have come to expect and provide for our future, then in my opinion, it was not only appropriate - it was necessary.”


Candidate - Charles Bellia


Education/military:


“BS in Physical Education, certified K-12 from Canisius College, Buffalo NY. 7 years Army Reserve/ National Guard.”


Current employment and/or most recent prior to retirement:


“The StereoShop, Inc and the SecurityShop, Inc President/ Manager since 1994.”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so, what office did you hold and for how long?


“No.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioner?


“I see this as a unique opportunity to serve the community and preserve the quality of life that attracted us to move to Elkin 20 years ago.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election?


“When making decisions that will affect the community I will make sure that my decisions are based on facts, and not my personal feelings.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“An aging infrastructure, loss of large companies that helped our tax base and water sewer rate stability.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“I plan on getting a complete understanding of the town’s challenges; bringing forth concerns of the town’s residents; and having a positive impact over the next four years.”


Do you believe the town raising property taxes was appropriate?


“Without knowing the details of our budget, I cannot answer that one way or the other. I do know that as a property owner in Winston-Salem, the city/county lowered tax values dramatically, but did not lower taxes much if any at all. In a few years as the economy improves and rebounds property values will increase, therefore increasing tax revenue.”


Candidate - Cicely Coley McCulloch (incumbent)


Education/military: “Graduate of Appalachian State University.”


Current employment and/or most recent prior to retirement:


“Owner of Diana’s Bookstore for 20 years. Owner of The Liberty 1 year.”


Do you, or have you served in political office before? If so, what office did you hold and for how long?


“I have been Elkin Commissioner for the past 4 years.”


Why are you running for Town of Elkin Board of Commissioner?


“I want to continue to make progress with the town of Elkin.”


What do you offer that is unique in this election race?


“The perspective of an individual who has invested a lot of time and money in Elkin and wants to continue to see growth.”


What are the biggest challenges facing Elkin?


“Apathy of employers who don’t see the value in their employees living in Elkin who then would invest in it’s growth.”


What will be your top three priorities if elected?


“Continued balancing of the budget, continued support by the town to revitalize downtown, would still support indoor pool.”


Do you believe the town raising property taxes was appropriate?


“Yes.”

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