Case cites experience in leading Maggie
Billy Case of Maggie Valley wants to use his vast experience serving on local boards to bring more order to the board of alderman.
He is one of five candidates running for a four-year term on the board. He currently serves on the Maggie Valley planning board and the Haywood County planning board, is chairman of the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Apple Harvest Festival and serves on a number of other committees.
Case ran for the board of aldermen eight years ago but was the third runner up when two seats were available.
“I’m a native. I do business here and I want to see Maggie Valley thrive and be the community people want to live in and are proud of,” he said.
After serving on the county and town planning boards, Case said he knew the rules and ordinances. Plus, serving on vision panels for Maggie Valley would help him speak as an alderman with some knowledge and authority. It is that experience he believes sets him apart from the other candidates.
“I have some type of minimal qualifications for alderman,” he said. “This is a progression step for me versus someone just deciding to run.”
If elected, his top three goals would be to raise the level of professionalism on the board and among employees, create a written plan for the town’s long and short-term goals and increase the level of customer service for residents.
Case said a lack of communication was the main problem with the current board.
“You need to voice your thinking process at the meeting so everyone knows why you came to that decision,” he said.
He said it was important for an alderman to devote the time to do his or her homework on an issue and come prepared to discuss it at the meeting. It’s a commitment he’s willing to make. He added that one problem with the current board meetings was that people in the audience bring up issues that the board isn’t prepared to discuss.
Even though the current board is deadlocked 2-2 on many issues, Case said he didn’t think he would have a problem working with anyone and reaching a consensus.
“My entire background is in education and instruction. I’m very good at negotiating as a (real estate) broker for 13 years,” he said. “You just have to break through the objection barrier and try to come to a consensus. You’ll find out people are more similar than you think.”
Even with all the recent problems the board has faced, Case said he thinks the board can change for the better — but only by changing the people serving on the board. “We need a fresh start with professionals who can respect each other and cooperate and stop feeding off the negativity.”
While some candidates have divided into groups of three and are holding meet and greet events together, Case said he is not running as a “group ticket” with anyone. “Bundling is good for Charter cable, but it’s not good in elections,” he said, adding that citizens should know by now that grouped tickets don’t work. “It doesn’t lead to a fair democratic process.”
He said each candidate should be a freethinking voice on the board and vote for the right thing instead of feeling inclined to vote with the others.
Case said he hopes the board is an integral part of the hiring process for a new town manager after former town manager Tim Barth resigned two weeks ago. He said a qualified candidate would have enough background of Maggie Valley and be strong willed enough not to let the board micromanage the town. Town Planning Director Nathan Clark is acting as the interim town manager.
“I think Nathan Clark would make a great town manager. He’s very capable and has the background to step right into that role,” Case said. “He knows how to present his feelings without polarizing people. We may be looking for a new town planner instead of a town manager.”
As for the future manager of the festival grounds, Case doesn’t see the need in hiring a director to replace Audrey Hager, who was fired two weeks ago. He points to the Downtown Waynesville Association as a model the town of Maggie should look to when managing the festival grounds. He added that alcohol should be banned from the festival grounds to keep the town out of the alcohol business.
Case said the $230,000 the town budgets for the festival grounds each year could be better spent on road improvements, beautification or other improvement projects outlined in the Move Maggie Forward plan.