Five county commissioner candidates will square off for three open seats on the Richmond County Board of Commissioners come the Nov. 6 General Election. Three candidates are Democrats and two are Republicans.
On the ballot are incumbent Democrat and current Board of Commissioners Chair Kenneth Robinette and incumbent Democrat John Garner, and challengers Democrat Jimmy Capps, Republican Georgia Cagle and Republican Donnie Richardson.
The three candidates earning the most votes will be elected to the county board.
Robinette lives in Marston. He has been the chair of the board since 1998. Among his accomplishments he lists 1,150 new jobs, $939 million in investments since 2004, kept taxes down while raising revenue and garnered more than $49 million in grants for Richmond County.
Garner lives in Hamlet and owns Convenience Corner, Inc. in Hamlet.
Capps ran once before for a county board seat in 2010. Capps owns several businesses, one of which is J.C.’s Trailer Sales on Highway U.S. 1 South.
Cagle ran for sheriff in 2010. Cagle is the owner of Little Bo Steakhouse in Rockingham’s Roberdel community.
Richardson worked for Bell South for 31 years, and helped form the Ellerbe unit of the Richmond County Rescue Squad where he held offices for 20 years including chief. He is also a member of the Mt. Pleasant Community Club.
Each candidate received a survey from the Daily Journal and returned the completed survey within a week. Candidates were able to submit a 50-word personal statement with their survey if they chose to, which some candidates did.
Below are the survey questions, as well as the candidates’ answers:
What is your personal motivation for running for office?
Robinette said, “I decided to run for re-election because I believe that we have worked hard as a board to develop a plan to move the county in the right direction and I want to see our plan followed through. I know this election is about building a better county. It’s about our county’s future; it’s about how we are going to grow, how we are going to make capital improvements and how we are going to protect our neighborhoods while enhancing the quality of life. I strive to provide the people of Richmond County with the highest level of community services, smart growth and development but most importantly, results. I do not run on a one-issue platform. It has always been my goal to do what is in the best interest of the county. I have the background, the experience and know-how to accomplish these goals.”
Garner said, “I want to see Richmond County grow and prosper. This takes jobs, education and infrastructure. These are the three components for prosperity in my observation. Prosperity is a game changer for any community.”
Capps said, “I was born and raised in Richmond County. I am now a local business man and I want to help improve the county as far as business, education, and help make the county grow.”
Cagle said, “My personal motivation for running for the office of county commissioner is to help connect the public with the decisions that govern our county. By allowing our residents to express their ideas for improvements we will be placing not only the opportunity to help but the responsibility of the fate of our county in the hands of our citizens. The possibilities are endless when we choose to work together to succeed, everyone will benefit. If elected I will seek out the opinions of our residents. We are blessed here with a wonderful location with great resources, that isn’t reflected as hard working or self reliant as a Tier one community to future industry. I will encourage everyone to take an active role in the decisions that will affect our future as well as the legacy we leave behind. The friendly people we call neighbors will provide the push that future employers will recognize as a community ready for a bright future in a new industrialized work environment.”
Richardson said, “I feel that all the citizens of Richmond County should have a representative on the board that will represent them fair and equally. This county does not have a member from the north end of the county. And is not always considered when decisions are made that affect everyone of them.”
If in your next or first term you could only have one goal, what would that goal be and how would you go about achieving it?
Robinette said, “As a rural Tier 1 county, Richmond County has to be concerned with Economic Development. It is the Board of Commissioners’ job to generate income, through smart growth and development. My career as a Commercial Developer and membership on the North Carolina Southeast Board of Economic Development (The Regional Economic Development Marketing Organization for Southeastern North Carolina) have provided me with the experience and know-how needed to make sure we are getting the job done. During my tenure the Richmond County Board of Commissioners has been able to develop great working relationships not only on a local level but state and federal as well. The current Board of Commissioners has great relationships with all municipalities, Richmond County Schools, the community college, N.C. Southeast, N.C. Department of Commerce, Governor’s office, Senate and House of Representatives. It is because of this cooperation that we have been able to work together to accomplish many great things. I want to continue to see these relationships flourish and accomplish great things for Richmond County. I am dedicated to running the county as I would my own business.”
Garner said, “My one goal is the improvement in our quality of life and our standard of living. This can be achieved by providing good jobs, an education and working with each other.”
Capps said, “My one goal would be to develop the Highway 74 bypass for future interstates 73 and 74 coming through our county. We need to be able to find a way for travelers and visitors to stop and shop in our county. I believe a county sewer system along the bypass would help start the development.”
Cagle said, “I only have one main interest and that is to bring new employment possibilities to Richmond County. Our residents deserve to have employment opportunities that match the education currently provided at our local high school and community college, along with association with the North Carolina University system. I will be asking the residents to make suggestion of possible industry to locate here based on people that they would like to see become part of our new revitalization. Everyone wants to be part of positive expansion, and I feel the people of Richmond County are up to the challenge, to see us prosper by becoming involved. We have the opportunity to turn visitors into neighbors by making our intentions known that we plan on being an example of how great a small community can be by using the resources that we have to our advantage.”
Richardson said, “We would have an open door policy that anyone that has an issue could have it heard and responded to. We would need to change the meeting time back to 7 p.m. The working citizens of this county are not able to get off and be there at this early hour of 5 p.m. The county manager should not have the authority to bar anyone from presenting a legitimate complaint at the open forum. And the employees of this county should be able to voice their concerns about issues without fear of reprisals.”
Do you think every resident in Richmond County should be on county water lines?
Robinette said, “While I would like for every resident in the county to be on county water lines realistically this will probably never happen. It is important to remember that this is self-sustained enterprise and it would not be economically feasible to run county water lines to every resident in Richmond County. In other words, this is like running a business, the system is sustained by the revenues from selling water, and no tax money goes into operating the water system. Richmond County has a fairly extensive water system that includes 500 miles of water lines that serves approximately 7,100 residential meters and 165 commercial/industrial customers. In addition to the economics surrounding this issue there are also serious water quality issues that make this task virtually impossible. More specifically there are major water quality issues that arise from long dead end lines with very little usage on them. When possible the Public Works department installs loops to assure water quality. However, with long dead end carrier lines quality issues do arise. The only way to insure quality is by routine flushing. This essentially involves flushing our valuable commodity on the ground until water quality and clarity are acceptable and minimum state allowable chlorine residual numbers are achieved. This can be very expensive if being done more than on a routine basis. Therefore, based on the economics and water quality issues surrounding this issue I believe that installation of county water lines to every resident in the county is probably an unrealistic task. When looking at issues such as this it is important that we determine what is in the best interest of the county as a whole. Based on the economic and water quality requirements, most of the areas where water lines are feasible have been covered. We continue to look at other opportunities to expand the system within the constraints mentioned above.”
Garner said, “If possible, yes. There are areas in Richmond County that are almost cost prohibitive to service but, there are areas that can support the cost of expenses and should be looked at. One area that comes to my mind is the Boyd’s Lake Road community. We will also have to take a look at contaminated areas and respond appropriately.”
Capps said, “Yes. Going back to my goals, it is a must for development of the county.”
Cagle said, “To answer the question should every resident in Richmond County be on county water lines, I feel that all Richmond County citizens have the right to have access to county water if they choose. In December of 1990, the people of Richmond County voted for a water bond that was $7.9 million dollars, with 893 voting for and 359 voting against. It was stated in the Daily Journal the day before the election that with the expanding poultry industry, adding an additional 70 miles of water lines it would be a project that could pay its own way because of growth of the poultry industry. Right now 22 years later the same is true. One of Richmond County’s largest agricultural contributors is poultry. With Richmond Community College offering an Associate’s in science degree, RCC-NC State University in Poultry Science for the ever increasing need for qualified people to be educated in this growing area of agriculture. I feel access to water should be a service provided by the county that every taxpaying citizen should have access to and the right to decide if they would like to utilize this service. We need to support one of the largest taxpaying industries in Richmond County by allowing them access to services that will increase their growth for years to come.”
Richardson said, “Yes, when the water lines bond was voted on it was voted on by the citizens of Richmond County, it was voted on by all the citizens of this county, not just a portion of the county. It was told that if the bond was passed it would serve all of the county. As in the past, there are statements made that affect all the citizens and only benefits a few. We are looking for great industry to come to our county and are forgetting a very large one, the poultry industry. The tax base that is received from our farmers in the form of poultry and hog operations is a very big one. Why can’t the farmers that are in dire need of the water lines be furnished the lines that were supposed to be there from day one? The north end of the county is a beautiful part of our county and if the water lines were there I am sure there would be growth in the form of housing. We must remember there are a lot people that feel they are not being told the truth when they are promised something and it later is denied.”
Robinette said, “This election is about building on the firm foundation we have set to create a better future for Richmond County. As your County Commissioner, I am going to continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the citizens of our county have the very best chances of a brighter future.”
Garner did not submit a personal statement.
Capps said, “As a lifelong fan of Richmond County I want nothing but the best for this county, and will do everything I can to make it a better place to live, work, and play. If elected, I will give you my promise to do all I can to make it happen.”
Cagle did not submit a personal statement.
Richardson said, “The time is getting near for the November election and I would like to ask if you feel you have received the bang for the tax buck you have spent. Or do you feel that after someone has been in office for as long as some of our elected have been, are you better off now than you were a few years back? We have been ruled for so long by the same group that I feel we should open up to some new ideas and some new faces. Let’s get off our backsides and get some new blood on the board.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.