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Guilford County Board of Commissioners District 5

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, adopts ordinances, including zoning, and establishes an annual budget, which includes setting the tax rate and calling bond referendums. Seven commissioners are elected by districts and 1 at large in even-numbered years and serve staggered 4-year terms.

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  • Candidate picture

    Carly Cooke
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Troy Lawson
    (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?

What can Guilford County do to make itself more resilient to climate change?

What should be done to maintain Guilford County’s good water quality?

Age (optional) 39
Contact Phone (336) 317-9500
Position/philosophy statement As a mom & small business owner, I bring a balanced perspective, fresh energy & vision to the board to strengthen Guilford Co. for generations to come
Not just for district 5 but for the whole county, investing in Guilford County Schools must be a priority. Our Board of County Commissioners has consistently underfunded the annual operating budget which directly affects teacher, support staff, and bus driver pay. The capital budget, which is the ONLY source of funds used to maintain our facilities, has also been underfunded year after year. This is why we find ourselves with crumbling buildings and unsafe learning conditions for our children. Public education is the foundation of a strong and vibrant community with a direct impact on the local economy, the future of our community, and the quality of life for Guilford County citizens and the County Commission is uniquely positioned to solve this crisis.

As a County Commissioner, I will prioritize investment in our public schools. I support a bond referendum strategy over the next 10-15 years to provide the necessary funds to bring all of GCS facilities up to the same high standard that our children deserve. I will use the shared values of our community as a guide for making responsible decisions that show respect for the work that our teachers, support staff, administrators, and bus drivers do every day. I will protect the County’s investment in our facilities by ensuring that we allocate adequate funding to maintain these assets.
The primary role of our County Commissioners is budgeting and allocating funds to a range of county services and programs that support our community. It’s a job I am prepared to do. My MBA studies taught me to think critically about complex issues and analyze data to inform decisions. As a small business owner, I earned practical experience in creating and managing budgets and being productive with limited resources. I know how to make hard financial decisions when necessary and understand how to prioritize what is important. As a mom raising two young children here in Guilford County, I represent the values of families in our community and I am invested in creating a community where my children, and your children and grandchildren, will thrive and want to live and raise their own families. We need leaders who will bring energy, creativity, and vision to the decisions being made to shape the future of our community.
Guilford County cannot solve this problem on our own. Our federal government must come through with assistance for schools across the country and our partners in Raleigh need to prioritize the allocation of those funds as soon as they are available. Our needs to prepare our school buildings to host children safely during this pandemic are greater because of the state of disrepair of many of our facilities. Going forward we must prioritize the need to bring our school buildings up to acceptable standard. We also need to fully fund our maintenance and operating budget to ensure that we are training our teachers and offering professional development to adapt to the rapidly changing education environment. This pandemic has brought many challenges to our schools and educators but can also be seen as an opportunity to rethink our education systems and adapt to changing times with increasing capabilities afforded by to technology and innovation. As we continue to explore innovative solutions for educating our youth, we will need to lift up our educators with support and resources to navigate the evolving path forward. I’m committed to collaborating with the school board along with citizens and local business leaders to marshal support for the future of our public schools.
Jobs of the future will look different than anything we have yet to imagine. Therefore, it is important to teach problem solving, creative and critical thinking skills, and adaptability along with our core subject matter in schools because these are skills that can be applied in any job and any industry. More practically, we need to continue to encourage local business leaders to participate in the development of Career and Technical Education and workforce development opportunities in our public schools and community college. We have a tremendous resource in GTCC for training our citizens in school and work and retooling workers when the economy shifts. Collaborating with our business partners will ensure that we are preparing our workforce to meet the needs of our community and ensure that these programs continue to adapt and grow with industry trends.
Healthy students learn better. It is absolutely necessary to have one nurse in every school to ensure that students are cared for while our educators focus on teaching and learning. In 2018-19, the ratio of nurses to students in GCS was 1:1900 while the industry standard was 1:750. These positions are funded and staffed by the county through the Public Health department so it is up to the County Commissioners to approve funding and staffing levels for these positions. The pandemic that we are experiencing has only made more clear the need for us to support this position in each of our Guilford County Schools to ensure the health and safety of students and help each of them achieve their best possible outcome.
In NC, DACA recipients came here at the average age of 7 and are now in their late 20s. They have been living and working here for most of their lives. Many have started families; there are 11,000 children in NC who were born to a DACA recipient. In 2018, DACA recipients paid more than $80 million in state taxes and contributed hundreds of millions in spending power to our state economy. It’s clear these are hard working citizens who make positive contributions to our community. They should be afforded the right to continue pursuing a safe and dignified life here in Guilford County.
With deregulation at the federal level, it is more important than ever to focus on environmental protections in our local community. One way we can do that is to incentivize development in underutilized or vacant areas within our urban footprint which puts people and jobs in closer proximity thereby reducing carbon emissions from travel while preserving green space in our rural areas. We should also continue to invest in and prioritize our parks, greenways, and bike trails to enable Guilford County citizens to bike and walk around our community safely. Additionally, as we look at the need to rebuild or renovate many of our school buildings, we have the opportunity to explore sustainable building practices and renewable energy sources with a goal of net zero carbon footprint for these new or updated schools. The county also has the option to retrofit many of the existing buildings with energy efficient systems that would offer a secondary benefit of immediate savings on energy costs. And last, I would love to see the county form a sustainability council comprised of Guilford County citizens who are invited to participate in shaping our plan for the local environment.
Clean water is vitally important for a healthy community. Guilford County should coordinate with our cities and the state of North Carolina to advocate for research on emerging compounds and chemicals in our water sources. We must prioritize the sharing of information and research with our cities, neighboring counties, and the state and encourage our state partners to fully fund the work being done by the NC Department of Environmental Quality to ensure that they can continue their important scientific research that is necessary to keep us all safe.

Specifically in Guilford County, we need to address the issue of lead in the drinking water at many of our public school buildings. This is a symptom of the bigger problem - deteriorating, poorly maintained facilities - that could have very serious consequences for our children’s health.
One of the most serious issues facing County Commissioner District 5 is the physical condition of our schools. Many of our schools are long overdue for improvements and in some cases needing to be rebuilt. I will first visit every school in my district. I will talk and listen to principals, faculty, staff, parents, and students. Then I will take that information and process that along with the comprehensive school improvement plan that has been proposed. After gathering that information I would work with my fellow Commissioners to resolve these issues as it relates to the budget.
My professionalism, negotiating, listening, and accountability skills will be critical as a Commissioner. Furthermore, my lifelong desire to help people and continue to keep Guilford County a great place to live and work.
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