Candidates for county commissioner set their priorities

Apr. 24, 2014 @ 09:29 AM

The News-Topic sent each of the candidates for Caldwell County Board of Commissioners the same set of questions. Over the coming days we will run their answers. Individual responses have been edited because of space limitations, but full answers are posted at www.newstopic.net.

What are your main priorities or areas you plan to focus on while in office?

Chris Barlowe, incumbent: “As your commissioner, I have always placed the public’s interests ahead of any personal agenda, and I will continue to do so over the next four years.

“My priorities for another term remain much as they were when I took the oath of office in December 2010. I will continue to advocate for the taxpayer, support education, endorse economic opportunity and seek to improve the county’s overall quality of life.

“During my term, the property tax rate is almost 10 percent lower than when I took office. The county’s fiscal situation also continues to improve.

“With the current construction of a new, state-of-the-art middle school, Caldwell County is becoming a model for what disciplined, responsible government can achieve.

“As your commissioner, it has been my pleasure to serve you. I believe in careful, cautious governance while avoiding micromanagement. I serve the public and will not use this office for personal gain or selfish vendettas.”

Ben Griffin: “While I was commissioner, we reduced the county’s debt from $59 million to $39 million. I worked to fund all the county agencies at the proper amounts. I helped put in an employee’s clinic to offer employees easy access and to help control the county’s medical costs. I also helped start a customer service program in the county to empower employees to work more effectively with the citizens and each other. If elected, I will work for all citizens to provide the necessary level of services for the present and growth in the future.”

Mike LaBrose, incumbent: “My main priorities would be the answer to the two prior questions: new and stable job growth by adding new business and industry, and the start of a short and long range plan for the county. I believe we have the right pieces in place to see good solid growth in the next four years. Caldwell County is in good shape financially, but going forward we must begin the open discussion of a road map for our future. We must be proactive and not reactive. Other counties want the same jobs and growth that we do. I want Caldwell County to be ready for the future, playing in the big game not sitting on the bench or sidelines waiting for the game to come to us. Our best days are ahead.”

Donnie Potter: “Number one priority would be to develop a short- and long-term plan (Capital Improvement and Outlay Plan) for Caldwell County. We cannot progress into the future without a road map.

“Another major concern is we have to protect our county workers and make sure that we are paying them competitive wages and benefits so that we can retain professional qualified workers especially EMS and Law Enforcement workers. We are spending too much money to get these employees trained just to see them leave Caldwell County for a better paying job across the river. Today we are a training ground for other departments across western NC and this has to stop.”