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VOTE411 Voter Guide

Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners District 1

The 9-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. The Board's primary responsibilities are to adopt an annual budget, set a property tax rate and establish priorities to address the County's needs, especially in the areas of health, education, welfare and mental health. Six members are elected by districts and three are elected at-large every 4 years.

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  • Candidate picture

    Elaine Powell
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Jim Puckett
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What do you think makes you the best candidate for this office?

What is the most important issue the County Commission will have to address in the next two years?

What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial equality in the county?

How would you rate Mecklenburg’s public education system?

If you rated it below excellent, what proposals would you support to improve it?

Would you support an increase in the local supplement for teachers and staff, even if the state does not give one next year?

Please explain

Are there policies you believe can be enacted that would improve the economy of Mecklenburg in the next two years?

How would you rate the access to healthcare services your county is providing?

How would you rate the quality of healthcare services your county is providing?

If you rated them less than excellent, what can the commission do to improve things?

Age (optional) 57
Contact Phone (704) 394-7747
Twitter @OnTheFrogSide
Position/philosophy statement I believe we need authentic, inclusive leadership - genuine people who want to make a positive difference.
I have demonstrated commitment and service to the local community for the past 31 years. I value and respect diverse points of view. My skills,core values and life experiences make me a uniquely qualified candidate. I volunteered in CMS for 25 years,starting out as a community partner at Eastway Middle School in 1989. I was appointed by elected officials to multiple government councils, boards and commissions from 2001-2018. I've been serving as the District 1 Mecklenburg County Commissioner since being elected in 2018. I believe that we are all brothers and sisters and that all of our voices matter. I believe in service and action and putting my energy into problem-solving and community building.
Covid has changed the world as we knew it. The stability of government services will be the most vital issue we address, as residents need these programs/services more than ever. Mecklenburg County is in a unique position to survive this crisis because of the lessons learned in the last economic recession. Elected leaders and county staff have worked hard to create a sustainable infrastructure and to be adequately prepared for an economic downturn. We will do our best to overcome the financial shortfalls without cutting services. Mecklenburg County has already scaled back spending, made less aggressive revenue projections and preserved a reserve for the possibility of a major shortfall.
Our Board has been working on this since we set our top priorities at our budget retreat in January 2019. Our number one Board priority is to reduce racial disparities. It takes focus and intentionality. We are listening to the community. We are requesting disparity studies, so that we can work on changing the systemic infrastructure that has perpetuated inequities. We are working to move the needle on economic mobility by investing in Meck Pre-K and Affordable Housing. I believe we can do more by changing our approach to economic development.
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While there are pockets of excellence in CMS, I continue to witness and hear concerns about concentrations of high poverty and inequity in our public schools. I will continue to collaborate with community members and elected officials on the School Board to learn how I can best advocate for the prioritization of equity. I am especially concerned about the number of students who are not able to read by the third grade. This is unacceptable and we have requested an update on the action plan from CMS.
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I volunteered in CMS from 1989-2014. I would support an increase in the local supplement for teachers and staff if the funding is available. To be realistic, I don't think funding will be available, as the County cannot take on more unfunded burden from the state.
I believe that we can improve economic development by educating, attracting and keeping talented workers. We are more likely to attract and keep talented workers by (A) Prioritizing public school workforce education and training (B) Investing in public spaces that are considered priorities by the community.
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Access to Care and Quality of Care are top priorities for our Health Department. The Commission can ask and has asked for increased focus on areas where we are hearing concerns. The County Manager and the Director of the Health Department request input and recommendations from leading experts in healthcare and for input from the community to create a comprehensive action plan.
Age (optional) 63
Contact Phone (704) 363-1379
email address jhpucket@bellsouth.net
Position/philosophy statement I look forward to returning to the work of demanding transparency, accountability, personal responsibility, and realistically responsible tax policy.
While my opponent has remained silent on every major issue of the day, rarely even offering an explanation of her vote I have had the great honor of very vocally and openly serving the people of District One for five terms on the Board of County Commissioners and one term on the Board of Education. My goals and my concerns are well documented on my webpage. I was proud to be at the forefront of demanding, setting, and implementing budget priorities, to better define the real world impact of tax incentives as they relate to business recruitment and growth. I continue to support vigorously: the lowest Responsible Tax Rates with Priority Based Budgeting, Efficient, Open, and Accountable Governance, Performance Based Staff Compensation, Parent and Student Centered School Management, Business Growth Directed Regulation and Support, Realistic Transportation Policies, Safe, Secure and Affordable Police Services
Balancing the very likely HUGE gap in revenue and expenses. This past budget robbed $52 million from our reserves for a one time payment source for expenses. Next year due to the Covid 19 shutdown there will likely be less revenue and less in reserves yet those ongoing expenses they voted in this year will still be there. We need commissioners with the business and finance skills as well as the guts to take on tough issues to get us through the challenges that are ahead of us. I have those skills and a history to prove it.
I will continue to advocate for programs like I introduced while last on the commission such as targeting at risk neighborhoods for the highest tax incentives for company's looking to relocate here rather than continuing to recruit for Ballantyne, South Park and Center City. I will continue to demand quality services from our social systems like I did when I demanded third party investigation into the failures of the health depart (against the wishes of staff) that ultimately led to the removal of the unresponsive Director of Health. I will continue to fight against toll roads that hamper transportation of the poor and insist that our social services work in conjunction with CMPD
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Focus on budget process that FORCES CMS to prove that initiatives perform as promised and ends unsuccessful initiatives rather than the current method that protects the staff positions in an ever ongoing effort to "see if it will get better" while year by year failing students during the wait. I have ALWAYS since my days on the Board of Education supported performance based pay that rewards successful teachers and culls out the unsuccessful. I also support greater access to charter schools. The largest concentration of charter schools is currently in the "'at risk" crescent proving that parents are looking for alternative public school options.
The candidate chose not to mark a box
I have for years supported the county finance director and the county manager determining the largest sum possible for CMS and then voting to support that number and allowing CMS to allocate as THEY see fit. If CMS wants to increase supplements it should be their decision and they need to decide if salary or programs or a fundamental change in pay (like merit based pay) is the most impactful in the classroom.
Lower property taxes, eliminate the hundreds of millions in corporate tax give-aways like the $82 million given to the 40th most profitable company in America to lure them here. Ease building regulation to more reflect the counties around us that make opening large scale manufacturing easier and more profitable to come here than the surrounding area.
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The single biggest thing we can do is return to a legitimate Board of Health, staffed with healthcare professionals. Currently the County Manager has full control over the health department's management and control. The Health Director reports to the manager and the manager alone. We need to operate like the rest of the counties in the state with a Board of Health whose membership is composed of heath professionals as outlined by state statue and who have the power to direct the Health Director (or remove them). These professionals would operate from a diverse background of mandated professional such as Doctors, Dentist, Veterinarians, Nurses, Medical Facility Mangers etc.