Forward thinker with native roots.
In the next term, as with County Commissioners across the nation, Dare County Commissioners will have to handle the fallout from the pandemic as it comes. We as a county have had a banner season in 2020. We must be aware our tourism dollars come from the discretionary income of others. Purse strings across the country may tighten dramatically in 2021. County Commissioners have little to no say in how we as a nation handle stimulus payments, unemployment, and pandemic response. We can hope for the best, but we need to be aware of what could happen if our non-resident property owners and vacationers no longer have the income to support their time on our coast.
In order to improve the economy of Dare, we must first understand its entirety. We are commercial fishermen. We are restaurants. We are lodging. We are support staff. In essence, we are all intertwined providing a destination oasis for people around the world to enjoy and escape their everyday reality.
I strongly believe in the power of local economies.
Money spent in locally owned businesses stays in the county for longer. It is said for every $100 spent in a locally owned business $68 will recirculate in that community. For every $100 spent in a nonlocally owned business, only $43 will recirculate in that community. With much of our economy coming from outside dollars, Dare is in a prime position to keep much of that income in Dare, thus increasing the quality of life for our residents. I will support small business development and Main St plans for all of Dare County. I will support open-air markets for our local seafood and encourage farmers from our surrounding counties to sell their harvest directly to consumers in Dare. I will support itinerant merchants within reason.
The uncertainity of this time would often led us to stay with what has worked; however, this could be the right time to bolster our image beyond just a seasonal destination. With the expansion of working from home and remote learning, Dare could very easily see many more guests and part-time resisdents staying through the winter.
The most important thing County Commissioners can do for our local schools is to listen to the teachers. This seems so simple, but county after county, state after state struggles with this very basic concept. When elected I would move we have biannual listening sessions directly between teachers and county commissioners. Not to bypass the Board of Education, but to have an actual pulse check with our those in our classrooms.
It is important to pay teachers well, but it is as important to provide them with the tools they need. Education is rapidly evolving. More and more classes can be taught online, allowing teachers to have more targeted group sessions and dive deeper into specific areas of study.
We have amazing outdoor spaces we have neglected to see as educational opportunities. I would like to see Dare County assess its outdoor spaces for educational use as our current buildings are quickly reaching capacity. I would also like the opportunity to explore alternative scheduling for the school year. Many families with young children struggle with child care during our busiest months. Alternative scheduling works in other areas of North Carolina and could potentially allow Dare to make the most use of the classroom space it currently has while simultaneously assisting in child care.
Healthcare and social services are facing more challenging demands than ever before. In many ways Dare is excelling in comparasion to much of NENC. We still have our challenges and the pandemic has exasberated many. The demands families are facing to during these times could very well be the dividing line between the haves and have-nots. Social Services will have to work alongside schools to be sure younger children are not left alone, older guardians are able to assist students in navigating remote learning, and everyone keeps their mental health in tact. Mental Health is something we too often ignore when discussing community health, yet it can cost communities in terms of healthcare cost, workforce development, substances abuse, and even lives.
I support an expansion of Medicaid for North Carolina, although this is not under the purview of County Commissioners. Many working families in Dare fall in the crack, unable to access health insurance through ACA and unable to afford health insurance on their own, stressing our already overworked system. While private doctors are finding ways to care for the uninsured, expansion of Medicaid will help ensure all of Dare's residents can seek the care they need.
Lastly, we need to be especially careful our aging adult community isn't left behind. We are spending much of our attention on schools and employment, it is easy to forget the number of aging adults relying on home healthcare and meal delivery provided by the county.
I adamantly oppose off-shore drilling and seismic testing along North Carolina's coast. Virtually every industry depends on clean water and pristine beaches to thrive. The risk simply outweighs the reward.
When discussing off-shore drilling in the Atlantic, we cannot seperate Tidewater, VA from Wilmington, NC. What happens in either of these cities and every small town in-between will inpact us all. We must stand together in opposition of both off-shore drilling and seismic testing.
I believe in family values, conservative leadership and responsible government that is responsive to its electorate.
Preserving and enhancing the quality of life for Dare County residents is the reason why I seek reelection. This means we must safeguard our tourism based economy while working to diversify it, protect our environment, develop workforce housing opportunities, and provide the many services that make Dare County great such as funding schools, EMS, and recreational activities for all ages. Additionally, we must continue to address our social service needs to protect our most vulnerable and provide trash, transportation, libraries, law enforcement and the many other services our citizens depend upon. In the wake of the corona virus, public health services will be an important priority.
It is important that our tourism based economy never be jeopardized. For generations Dare County has thrived on tourism driven by our beautiful ocean. Our business community has creatively built enterprises that have provided world class service to our many visitors. We need to support this effort with beach nourishment. Additionally, we need to work closely with community partners to safely and responsibly expand our economy and provide affordable workforce housing.
Another pillar of our economy is safeguarding our fishing industry. We need to support our watermen by giving them the tools they need to put healthy seafood on American tables. We must continue to move forward on the launch of our very own dredge vessel that is not under development as a private/public partnership. This will enhance our economy by keeping all of Dare County’s waterways open and accessible. The County is committed to maintaining the General Fund unassigned fund balance at a level of 21% of revenue. This significantly exceeds the minimum 8% required by the State and is important in case of a disaster and to maintain the excellent bond ratings.
There are two components that need careful attention – Dare County Public Schools and the local COA campus.
Dare County Schools - Over the years, I have worked hard to build a solid working partnership with the School Board which has resulted in a funding formula that everyone agrees has proven effective and cost efficient. This effort must be continued.
College of the Albemarle - While serving on the COA Board of Trustees, I have been an outspoken advocate for the expansion of COA offerings here in Dare County. Part of this includes our plans which have been launched for a new campus here in Dare County so our young people will not have to drive so far to further their education.
I am especially proud of the “Dare County Guarantee Scholarship” program that has been funded by the Dare County Board of Commissioners. This innovative program makes it possible for Dare County families to save a tremendous amount of money by letting our young people earn a 2-year degree at no cost.
The Guarantee Scholarship Program is very timely as we deal with the impact of the corona virus. While many other colleges and universities will only be offering online courses and still charging top dollar for a non-campus experience, Dare County students will be able to stay at home and participate in the Guarantee Scholarship Program and avoid racking up two years worth of student debt.
The Board of Commissioners has worked diligently to provide an improved local healthcare system. From working closely with The Outer Banks Hospital to key community healthcare providers we have expanded and enhanced healthcare for Dare County.
It is important that key healthcare initiatives established by the Board be continued including support for a clinic on Hatteras Island, tele-psychiatry for our children, and the lifesaving work that has been done by the Saving Lives Taskforce.
Funding for Public Health remains an important priority especially in view of the impact of the corona virus as we go into the future. Working with federal and state partners, all necessary steps must be taken to ensure the safety of Dare County’s residents and visitors. While we don’t yet know what the future steps may be, we will need to fund and take the necessary steps based on the best available science.
I have been adamantly opposed to both off-shore drilling and seismic testing and have voiced these concerns to local forums, regional panels, and to key government leaders in Washington, D.C.
The risk is too great and the rewards are too few to justify off-shore drilling or even seismic testing. If there were to be an environmental mishap due to drilling or testing, it would risk destroying Dare County’s tourism-based economy forever. The quality of life we have all worked so hard to build could easily be wiped out in a moment. This is not a political issue, it is a practical, common sense approach to protect our children’s future.
The Dare County Board of Commissioners has unanimously opposed off-shore drilling and seismic testing in a series of bipartisan resolutions and I will continue to speak out on this vital issue on behalf of our citizens.