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Forsyth County Board of Commissioners District B {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The 7-member Board sets the policy for the county, determining the strategic vision for the county, appoints a county manager, attorney and others to serve the county, adopts ordinances, including zoning, and establishes an annual budget, which includes setting the tax rate and calling bond referendums. Two commissioners are elected from District A, 4 from District B, and 1 at-large. All are elected in partisan elections in even-numbered years and serve staggered 4-year terms.

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  • Richard V. Linville
    (Rep)

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    David R. Plyler
    (Rep)

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    Gull Riaz
    (Dem)

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    Christopher Smith
    (Dem)

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    Eric Weiss
    (Dem)

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    Gloria D. Whisenhunt
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

Identify the most serious issue you see facing the community you will represent?

How will you address this issue once you are in office?

What life or professional experience has prepared you for this position?

In light of the recent need for remote learning/teaching, how do you propose to fund training and equipping students, teachers and families to prepare for this now and in the future?

What do you propose to better equip, train and prepare county residents for the jobs of the future?

What is your position on the need for one nurse in every public school? What, if anything, about the COVID-19 pandemic changed your views?

Are you in favor of county-level support for DACA recipients? Why or why not? If in favor, what support would you propose?

A recent audit found that the school system spent $5 million more than the Board of Education had allocated. How would you ensure that budgets approved by the Board of Commissioners are respected?

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Age (optional) 81
Contact Phone (336) 413-1102
email address plylerdavid@aol.com
Position/philosophy statement To represent the citizens of FORSYTH COUNTY THROUGH Communication, building relationships, working sure the health and well-being of those I represen
Counties have problems and needs including education, the economy, and the need for a better understanding between races. The most pressing problem is teacher pay. Forysth County Government provides a supplement to teachers, however, the state of North Carolina is not meeting its responsibility. An additional issue Forsyth County faces is the relocation of corporate headquarters out of the county.
Work cooperatively with local, state and federal government to develop positive, workable policies to meet the needs and problems we face.
25 years of experience in local government as an elected official Winston-Salem State University graduate, Local Goverment major 20 years as news and public affairs director for WXII-12 news Past Owner/Operator of WTOB radio Community Service: Member, YMCA of Nortwest North Carolina Board Member, National YMCA Board Member, Novant Health Board Past Chairman, IFB Solutions (Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind) Past President, North Carolina Association of County Commissioners Past Board Member, Forsyth County Board of Public Health Past Board Member, Forsyth County Social Services Board Past Chairman, Tanglewood Board Life Member, Kernersville Chamber of Commerce
I have two daughters who taught in the public school system for 14 years and in n remote systems for the past five years. There is a need to act through the local state and federal governmentS with a goal involving training for all public and private schools. An educated and in formed educational lsystem is invaluable to the pfuture of our teachers and students AND communities.
And informed budget process involving all sources of revenue together with public input identifying the problems needs and interests March the beginning of such a process. Then thoughtful and careful planning followed by action to meet the needs and interests identified.
Speaking as an incumbent, public health, social services, and a working relationship with two major health facilities is already in place. Programs to protect the health and well-being in public schools are in place but continuously Monitored for improvement if necessary.
The simple answer is yes. The more involved answer would need careful study of the DACA population, the programs available from the federal and state governments and how to make them all work for the benefit of our community, our teachers and children.
The Conmanager the budget staff and carry commissioners are responsible for the budget. Ultimately the answer to the question lies and intelligent budgeting at the outset to meet any problems that may arise.
We have failed the youth of Forsyth County, particularly the lower and middle-class youth. Currently, Forsyth County is second-to-last out of 2,478 counties in the nation when it comes to income mobility for lower-class children. According to the data, the younger you are when you move to Forsyth, the worse you will do on average. Children who move to Forsyth at earlier ages are more likely to become single parents, less likely to go to college and less likely to earn more, compared to any surrounding county. The problem is compounded with inequity in the school system, failing education infrastructure, lack of trade skills and certifications offered in high school, skyrocketing food insecurity, and rising crime and gang involvement.
I would implement an Opportunity Task Force to explore income mobility solutions. This had profound success in Mecklenburg County. Their research identified strategies to pursue in early care and education, college and career readiness, and child and family stability, while simultaneously focusing on the cross-cutting factors of segregation and social capital. I also have several education initiatives that will tackle school inequity, increase community buy-in, introduce more trade and certification opportunities, and expand high-quality pre-k programs and accessibility. Additionally, I have several broader initiatives aimed at combating food insecurity and gang violence. Two issues disproportionately affecting our lower-class youth.
I have 10 years of military service, most recently serving as an Army Intelligence Officer, working to solve complex issues on a global scale. I’ve assisted units building Syrian refugee camps. I coordinated efforts with military allies to track Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. In Kuwait, I was the youngest officer recruited to lead US efforts in Operation Peninsula Shield, a joint exercise conducted by the Gulf Coast Nations; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Locally I’m an arts advocate in Forsyth County. I teach songwriting, production and music business to the community. I’ve seen first hand the benefits of empowering youth with tangible trade skills and I would like to expand those offerings in Forsyth County.
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Age (optional) 35
Contact Phone (336) 422-6354
email address VoteChrisSmith@gmail.com
Twitter @VoteChrisSmith
Position/philosophy statement Veteran leadership for Forsyth County.
We have several serious issues facing Forsyth County. What drew me into the race was discovering how we were failing the youth of our county, particularly youth from our low-income families. Currently, Forsyth County is second-to-last out of 2,478 counties in the nation when it comes to income mobility for children from working-class families. According to the data, the younger you are when you move to Forsyth, the worse you will do on average. Children who move to Forsyth at earlier ages are more likely to become single parents, less likely to go to college, and less likely to earn more, compared to any surrounding county. The problem is compounded with inequity in the school system, failing education infrastructure, lack of trade skills and certifications offered in high school, skyrocketing food insecurity, and rising crime and gang involvement. It’s a complex and multi-faceted problem further complicated by COVID and the devastating impact that is having on our communities and economy. Since COVID, it has arguably become the most serious issue facing all communities in our nation, as it is exacerbating all other issues.
To address the inequity in our system plaguing the youth of Forsyth County, I would implement an Opportunity Task Force to explore income mobility solutions. A similar endeavor required minimal funding and had profound success in Mecklenburg County. Their research identified strategies to pursue in early care and education, college and career readiness, and child and family stability, while simultaneously focusing on the cross-cutting factors of segregation and social capital. I also have several education initiatives that I believe the Board of Commissioners could work on in tandem with the Board of Education that would tackle school inequity, increase community buy-in, introduce more trade and certification opportunities through strategic community partnerships, and eventually expand pre-k programs and accessibility. Additionally, I have several broader initiatives aimed at combating food insecurity and gang violence; two issues disproportionately affecting our lower-income youth. While I put forth an aggressive agenda for lifting up the youth of Forsyth County, it’s important to simultaneously acknowledge that COVID is going to reshape how we govern going forward. Most communities, Forsyth included, will be facing a budgeting shortfall. So I look to the future with aggressive goals, but goals that are cost-conscious and obtainable under our new reality. Reprioritizing and reallocating budgets will be necessary in order to not just rebuild but to rebuild stronger.
I have 10 years of military service, most recently serving as an Army Intelligence Officer, working to solve complex issues on a global scale. I’ve assisted units building Syrian refugee camps. I coordinated efforts with military allies to track Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. In Kuwait, I was the youngest officer recruited to lead US efforts in Operation Peninsula Shield, a joint exercise conducted by the Gulf Coast Nations; Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. I have been in rooms of people that have no interest in working together and convinced them of the necessity of cooperation. I have had the opportunity to work on projects where we could dream big and money was no object, and I have worked on missions where we had virtually no budget and we had to make the impossible possible through hard work and ingenuity. I now look to transition my dedication to service and experience with out of the box thinking and problem solving to local politics. Since my last deployment in 2012, I have been working in the music industry. Specifically, I have been working locally as an arts advocate in Forsyth County. I am a part of several organizations that educate people from all walks on songwriting, production, and music business skills. In this endeavor, I’ve seen first hand the benefits of empowering youth with tangible, life-changing, trade skills and it’s why I am passionate about expanding trade offerings in Forsyth County.
I touched on this with my answer above. Ultimately I believe the solutions will come down to a reprioritization of funding. One example of this, our WSFCS proposed budget has been reduced in anticipation of fewer taxes being taken in. However, the Sheriff’s department has requested an increase in funding of approximately $850,000 to increase the School Resource Officer programs. With schools not in session, the need to expand SRO’s no longer becomes a priority. This is just one example of ways we can reprioritize and reallocate line items to develop a more efficient budget that doesn’t continue to prioritize our youth last. It’s also important that we work and expand our efforts with community partners. This won’t be possible without them. For example, when we move to a phase that will allow for teachers to enter our communities for special need situations, we will need to rely on community centers, churches, and civic organizations to help us achieve our goals of educating our youth while maintaining social distancing guidelines. Ultimately, the future is uncertain but through efficient budgeting and community collaboration, we can address many of the hurdles in front of us.
I would like to see more trade programs introduced into the high school pipeline. COVID has highlighted that we need to redefine what education looks like in the 21st century. Previously, the job of our schools has largely been to keep our children alive and educated to standard until 18. Then we send them off into the world to learn how to be an adult. But we need to be preparing our youth to be adults when they turn 18. I am inspired by initiatives like the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus in Cherry Creek, Colorado, which provides pathways for students to work towards industry certifications and graduate with the skills needed to obtain work upon graduation. We are fortunate in our community to have great colleges like Forsyth Tech, Wake Forest, and WSSU. We need to find ways to integrate them into our high school pipeline. The city launched the Winston-Salem College Guarantee which ensures students in low-income households who graduate from any high school in Forsyth County will be able to attend Forsyth Technical Community College free of charge. I would love to explore a similar initiative for veterans coming off of active duty. I also believe, strongly in supporting community endeavors. For example, when considering restaurants for the newly renovated Union Station, one option included a culinary training program. In addition to creating our own opportunities, I believe encouraging these sorts of private educational innovations in all sectors, is critical.
I can say this is the first time this question has been asked of me, so I can’t say that I am familiar with the need for nurses in every school. I would need to study and educate myself as to the duties and responsibilities of school nurses and how often they are called upon during a normal school day to make a truly informed decision on the subject. I can say that I think COVID highlights the need for medically trained personnel in every school. But without knowing the frequency of which nurses are used on campuses, I can’t say if a nurse is needed in every school, or if we could divide the responsibility up into nursing district, or if maybe we just need an on-call system. Perhaps the need is greater in an initial return to school period than in a post-COVID vaccine period. I also don’t know if we need a full RN versus an LPN versus a CMA. Acknowledging the budget shortfall we are facing, my mind also wonders if there are any out of the box solutions we could explore, such as partnering with a local nursing school to have school hours be part of the curriculum. Again, I’d have to confess to being somewhat new to the subject, but I am certainly not against it by any means if the need necessitates that. Keeping our children healthy while going back to school in a post-COVID world, needs to be a priority and I think the discussion on how we best do that is an important one.
Yes. I believe immigrants are the backbone of our nation and play a critical role in our communities and our economy. The DACA program and DREAMers are young people who have grown up in our communities. They identify as Americans and many only speak English and have no memory of the country in which they were born. Many didn’t even realize their citizenship was in question until they were applying for colleges and financial aid. As they have grown under the program, over 90% are employed with ell paying jobs and bachelor’s degrees or higher. These citizens are vital to the health of our community. I believe in addition to the resources already made available to these citizens, I would like to model a similar program to Chapel Hill’s. In this program, Forsyth County residents who are in need of financial assistance with their DACA renewal application can apply for assistance through a chosen community partner already working in this space. The county would then reimburse the chosen agency for DACA renewal fees. This program only costs the Chapel Hill community a few thousand dollars and keeps trained, educated, and skilled workers in our community.
There is no getting around how badly this positioned the school system going into FY2020 and 2021. Especially as we enter into a shortfall. The audit clearly highlighted the need for more reporting and accountability throughout the year. We should not be balancing our ledgers on proposed and approved budgets, but rather on real-time spending and we should be doing this at least quarterly. This would allow us to red-flag issues as they happen, not just in the proceeding year’s audit. All major departments should be required to account for spending. Particularly, fund balances should be closely monitored and checks and balances must be established to withdraw funds from these accounts. For departments who are unable to maintain adequate records, the county should reconsider whether fund balances should be maintained by the respective agencies/boards or whether excess funds should be managed at the county level.
Age (optional) 27
Contact Phone (336) 265-9666
email address weiss4syth@gmail.com
Twitter @weiss4syth
Position/philosophy statement Systemic Change for Systemic Problems
Housing. Far too many citizens of Forsyth County spend too much of their income on housing. We need to dismantle the legacies of racist housing policy throughout the county. We need to enable and create safe, dense, walkable, and diverse communities where one can live, work, and relax without the requirement of having a car.
I will make systemic changes to how housing and transportation work in the county. Forsyth county needs more pleasant, walkable neighborhoods where everything you need is nearby. Zoning changes, Community land trusts, and removing bad regulations is a start to accomplishing this. In the short term, once elected, can crack down on slum lords and make sure repairs are actually being made. We can take every legal recourse available to the county to halt evictions during a pandemic. We can work with the utility companies to stop shutoffs and give people time to pay their bills.
Professionally, I am a mechanical engineer. This means I solve problems. Difficult, in-the-weeds problems. I enjoy looking through numbers and I make spreadsheets for fun. The devil is in the details and I’m there ironing him out.
We as county commissioners need to take a holistic approach to this. For example, every WS/FCS student and teacher needs an internet connection. As a county, we can remove barriers that prevent competition and local companies/ municipal fiber. We can (for the long term) take actions to reduce the cost of bringing and maintaining miles of wires to people’s homes such as encouraging and legalizing density. In the short term we need additional funds from the state. According to WS/FCS only 27% of the budget comes from the County. In lieu of this happening, the county should take money from divisions that contribute to the school to prison pipeline. Specifically, reduce funding for School Resource Officers (SROs) and the jail.
Enabling access to transportation is the best method of reducing poverty and increasing opportunity I know of. Public transportation requires density, and density is illegal in Forsyth County. I propose systemic change in how our county is built out. I also want the county to enable local businesses to grow by making it easier to establish businesses by promoting enough development to keep rents low. We also need to heavily invest in our schools. We need to bring all of them up to a state of good repair rapidly, we need to listen to what students want to learn and provide that, and we need to pay our teachers not only enough, but pay them well to attract and retain the best.
I agree that we need one nurse in every school. I am in favor of removing all School Resource Officers (SROs) from the schools and using that budget for other staff such as nurses.
I am in favor of county-level support for DACA recipients because they are valued members of the community. I want to ensure they have access to all county services, aid programs, and support they need to live a good life here.
Schools are a necessary expense. If we don’t properly fund schools, we have no future. What I will do is invest in the technology and people who run the accounting system to make their lives easier and fund transfers more transparent. Imposing more bureaucracy and checklists will only make the system more opaque and expensive. Investing in and reforming systems of administration can make expenditures and flows of money more transparent and budgets easier to respect.
Age (optional) 73
Contact Phone (336) 725-1072
email address whisenhuntg@aol.com
Position/philosophy statement Active/energetic commissioner Support education Jobs
The Opioid Crisis and Mental Illness is a serious issue. Crime is on the rise for our younger population
By introducing a national program to our county. Stepping Up is program for men and women with substance abuse and mental illness. They are incarcerated in our county jail and we work with them while in jail. We are having success with this program and it keeps them from becoming a revolving door in our system. Also working with a residential substance abuse rehab program that has a 95% success rate to expand into Forsyth County. The Sheriff is addressing our crime rate and the commissioners support him in his efforts.
In my profession as a Hairdresser I was constantly hearing from my clients their concerns. Education and taxes were at the top of the list. After my son entered college I decided to run for School Board. I found that the School Board and County Commissioners rarely communicated. After serving as a School Board member for 6 years I ran for a Commissioner seat and was successful. Funding our schools properly was my goal and I believe I have made a difference in their funding. I have been a member of the Forsyth County, North Carolina County Commissioners since 1996. During my tenure on the Board, I have served as Vice Chairwoman (2012-2014) and Chairwoman (2004-2008). I also serve on a number of national, state, and local boards.
Our budget this year allocated funding for remote learning. Also the CARES Act was very generous to our school system for remote learning.
Encourage teachers, parents and students to take advantage of the great programs offered at Forsyth Tech Community College.
I serve on the Health and Human Services Board and we request additional school nurses each year. As a County Commissioner I do not believe we will ever be able to fund a nurse in each school. Number one the positions are difficult to fill. It is a high priority for me and we do add school nurses as often as possible.
No
The School Board and the County Commissioner have a funding formula that we use to fund the school system. The School Board members are elected by the citizens the same as I am. They oversee the budget and should to held accountable by the voters.