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Catawba County Board of Commissioners {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The 5-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. Commissioners are elected at large in even-numbered years and serve staggered 4-year terms.

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  • Candidate picture

    Austin Allran

  • Candidate picture

    Barbara Gale Beatty

  • Candidate picture

    Gabriel Sherwood

  • Jerome Simpkins

Biographical Information

1. What is the most important issue the County Commission will have to address in the next term? (Allow a Youtube answer, or text, or both)

2. In 2016 the Board of Commissioners engaged in creating a Catawba County Strategic Plan to drive population and economic growth. It’s now 2020, what work should continue and what needs to be changed?

3. What is the most effective role the county commission can play in improving the local schools? What policies or funding will you suggest when elected?

4. What policies would you propose to improve the quantity and quality of social services in your county?

Age (optional) 68
Position/philosophy statement I am conservative. I believe in reaching out and treating all people with respect and dignity.
Economic growth and workforce preparedness. Catawba County is basically at full employment, so we need to train workers for the needed job skills. We need to make our county and its eight municipalities attractive places to live and work, so that we keep our young people and attract new ones, while the area is also attractive to older people.
Our efforts to drive economic development should continue. The County should continue partnerships with Hickory and the other municipalities. I feel that I am in a unique position to assist with State/local government collaboration because of my extensive experience in this area as a former State Senator and State Representative.

We need to emphasize education, water and sewer, and infrastructure. We should support Opportunity Zones, such as those in Hickory and Newton.

We have a need for affordable housing, and the County can encourage this by working with municipalities to develop infrastructure.
Continue K-64. Emphasize good character and character growth, apprenticeships, working with the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Commission, and private business. Collaborate with our three public school systems, CVCC, LRU and other educational entities, as well as outside partners such as private business.
Special attention should be paid to those members of society who cannot advocate for themselves, so child foster care must be adequately addressed. Similarly, there needs to be protection for victims of domestic violence and abuse. We can partner with the private sector in this regard.

The area of mental health is highly important not just because we want to help people with mental health needs, in general, but because mental health needs are often tied into drug abuse and therefore criminal activity. Attention needs to be paid to helping people fight addiction.
The Greater Hickory Metro Area is the eighth largest manufacturing area in the United States. There are currently more jobs than people to fill them; this is especially true in the manufacturing sector, where there are more than 3,000 job openings. As commissioner, I have strived to ensure that our county's citizens possess the proper education and skill sets necessary for an ever-changing global market. During my tenure as commissioner, I have overseen the creation and implementation of K-64, a life-long learning and career advancement initiative which ensures workforce preparedness and that all students are college or career ready. Here in Catawba County, our citizens get jobs and keep them!
The government should never be an entity that stifles growth! As commissioner, my vision has been to foster a positive business climate by maintaining a low-cost government and a competitive tax rate. Currently, Catawba County has the 2nd lowest tax rate in the region and the 22nd lowest in the state. By ensuring that our citizens keep more of their hard-earned money, the more building and buying they can do for themselves and their families.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, "the only constant in life is change." Our county, our state, our nation, and the world are continually changing. Our county's citizens must embrace responsible and ethical changes and meet these changes with ideas and ideals built around strength, guidance, and collaboration. It is imperative that our county's leaders properly learn the needs of its citizens, and mold their policies in response to these needs and those of our ever-changing world.
Catawba County currently funds $1,707 per pupil. The 2019-20 budget provides $6.4 million in school capitals. Education continues to represent the most significant portion of the county's budget with .41 cents of every property and sales tax dollar allocated for the instructional cost of our county's three school systems. Our county's efforts are providing a massive return on investment!

In 2018, the average 4-year graduation rate for the three systems increased to over 90-percent, exceeding the statewide rate of 86.5 percent. Individually, Newton-Conover City Schools had the highest graduation rate in the State for the 3rd consecutive year at over 94 percent. Catawba County Schools' rate was over 89 percent, and Hickory Public Schools' was over 87 percent.

Catawba Valley Community College offers 60 programs of study with one and two-year degree programs, a two-year college transfer program, and continuing education. CVCC was recognized as 1 of only 4 of the 58 community colleges, in the State, to achieve Excellence Level on four or more of the eight performance measures for student success.

Despite our county's efforts and accomplishments, we must not rest or become complacent. Our world is ever-changing and demands that our educational systems change with it. Our K-64 program that I mentioned before allows for our county's students and older residents to achieve success, both in the classroom and with on-the-job training in high demand, high paying industries.

Our county, like many others, has experienced tremendous and unfortunate growth in children being separated from their parents and families for a host of reasons. I would support measures to revamp our group home systems within the county, whereby both children and parents benefit. Children would be able to obtain the security needed for mental, physical, and spiritual growth. At the same time, parents learn the proper skills to become capable and loving role models for their children. By implementing these measures, we could be able to reduce the overall length of time a child spends in foster care.
Age (optional) 40
Contact Phone (828) 639-0490
Twitter @CatawbaFor
YouTube video
Position/philosophy statement I am a Centrist Democrat ... well, a centrist between FDR and Eisenhower, that is!
Inequality may be the most profound test of our times as US Citizens, and Catawba County is no exception. We must protect our residents, our farmers, our businesses, and our future, by being sure our growth is responsible growth that leaves no one behind. We must provide housing at rates our people can afford, we must ensure the economic boom soon to come to our South Eastern area is shared in by all our citizens, and we will offer access to all citizens of Catawba County.
If we are to Make Living Better in Catawba County we must include voices and perspectives that represent a cross-section of our people, and that can help make decisions based on those experiences that most members of our board haven't shared with us. My candidacy will provide that perspective.

I arrived in Catawba County after the Great Recession and lived in public housing in Hickory while recouping, so I know what it's like to be at rock bottom here. I worked three jobs and educated myself at CVCC and NC State online while a single father, and later a stay at home dad with a newborn, so I know what it's like to do whatever is needed to make it through the day. I have run a plumbing company for years now, and see the disparity between those that spent thousands for a remodel while some are begging for dollars to keep the plumbing running.

I have seen life lived by folks on all levels of our social strata. Many aren't getting their due representation, until I arrive.
First and foremost, education is a national security issue and if we are to save public education the first step is to disassociate property taxes from school funding. Equalize the funding, equalize the access, equalize the outcomes. It's as simple as that, for a first step.
Our poverty rate is over 15% here in Catawba County, our Social Services professionals are stretched and working hard to serve the needs of our citizens. We must ensure they have all the resources, staff, and training, they need to take care of our neighbors.

Supporting our society also means being proactive. Counselors being present in schools at a higher rate than cops by a 3 to 1 margin is one goal to making sure that not only our kids are served, but those serving them don't get overwhelmed too.
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