Commissioner candidates share their view

By Vicki Hyatt | Apr 23, 2014

There are three Haywood County commissioner seats up for re-election, and five Democrats are vying for their party’s nomination, including the three incumbent commissioners.

Commissioners Kirk Kirkpatrick, Sorrells and Bill Upton point to accomplishments of the board in the past years, while Kyle Edwards, Maggie Valley, and Robert McClure, Waynesville, are seeking changes in local government.


The candidates were asked to share their views on top issues in the county and how they would address them. Their responses are as follows.


Kyle Edwards, 74

One year at Western Carolina University

General contractor, owner of Stompin’ Grounds

Experience: Business management

Why seeking office: Experience in business, better to manage money


Top three goals if elected:

1. Don’t buy it if we don’t need it

2. Dispose of unused equipment

3. Ensure surplus property money is returned to the general fund


Kirk Kirkpatrick, 45

Education: B.A. Catawba College; Juris Doctorate — Regent University


Experience: Served as commissioner for past 11years, local attorney for 19 years, and a variety of civic, county and community governing boards, including MedWest and Haywood Regional Medical Center governing boards.


Why seeking office: I began running in 2002 to make decisions that were in the best interests of the people. I soon discovered that the decisions that need to be made for the best interests of the people are not always ones that every person agrees on. I like to think I consider all factors before making decisions. My education experience and long family history in the county help me to be a good candidate for the job. I also consider the feelings, opinions and factors of issues and fairness before rendering decisions.


Top three goals:

  1. To see through the transfer of our Haywood County hospital to DukeLifePoint to ensure the citizens of Haywood County that they will be provided with quality health care in the future.
  2. Continued support of our educational system that promotes and gives an opportunity for our children to succeed and attracts new residents.
  3. Meeting the challenges of the changing legislature by addressing unfunded mandates and approving a budget and tax rate that aren’t a burden on the people.


Robert McClure, 67

Education: Two years at Western Carolina University

Court officer

Experience: I have worked public jobs since graduation — 32 years at Dayco and I have worked with the Sheriff’s Department; also a total of 28.5 years in the Army Reserve. My wife and I also own a small farm at Crabtree. I love and care about Haywood County.


Why seeking office:

I have lived in Haywood County my entire life and see the changes in our county and feel the county is not going in the right direction. The commissioners do not seem to be concerned with getting new jobs into the county. The employees of Haywood County are not paid on the scale other counties are using. The wage scale is the lowest in all of Western North Carolina. How can we keep competent staff when our wage scale is so low?


Top three goals:

1. Find jobs for the young people of Haywood County allowing them to stay in the county.

2. Get out of the real estate business. Some of this property could be used as a recruiting enticement for new business.

3. Be more people friendly in our county business. We work for the people, not the people working for the commissioners. Decisions need to be based on helping the majority not a chosen few.


Michael T. Sorrells, 57

Education: Bachelor of science, University of Tennessee

Experience: Haywood County Board of Education, 2004-2008; county commissioner 2010 to 2013; small business owner,  various boards and committees


Why seeking office:

I want to continue to improve Haywood County and the quality of life for all citizens. I feel I am the best person for the position for many reasons. I have lived in this county all my life. I work and own a business in the county and raised my family here. I have first-hand knowledge of Haywood County and its people. My common sense approach to government, my business background and my public service as a Haywood County Board of Education member and the last four years as a county commissioner have prepared me to be the best candidate for Haywood County Commissioner.

Top goals:

  1. Seek jobs and economic growth. We need to be aggressive in seeking out new job opportunities for our citizens. We also need to be focused on job retention and growing existing businesses. As a commissioner, I have been and will continue to be aggressive in accomplishing this goal. In the last four years, we have worked with existing businesses and provided necessary incentives to add over 125 new jobs and improvements to facilities that have increased our tax base.
  2. Continue supporting education. This is extremely important as we prepare our children and our citizens for the future. We must make sure we have a workforce that is educated and trained for future job opportunities. As a commissioner, I have and will continue to support our public schools and our community college so they can provide the education and training our children and citizens will need in the future.
  3. Continue to work to keep Haywood County an affordable place to live and raise our families. We should constantly strive to improve our quality of life. As a commissioner, I have and will continue to keep our taxes as low as possible. I will ensure streamlined government all while providing and improving services our citizens expect and deserve.

Bill Upton, 69

Occupation: Retired educator, county commissioner

Education: Master’s degree, Western Carolina University

Experience: County commissioner since 2006; Haywood County Schools administrator, 1971-1997, Superintendent of Haywood County Schools, 1997-2005.


Why seeking office: I enjoy working with our present commissioners. I truly believe we have a common goal of doing what is best for the citizens of Haywood County.

I believe that I am the best candidate for Haywood County Commissioner because of my experience and integrity. As a school administrator for 34 years and as a county commissioner for the past eight years, I have advocated for our most precious resources, our children and our families. I have managed large budgets with responsibility and integrity and I haven’t been afraid to make tough decisions. I have worked to find the best solutions to our county’s needs while being open to the will and voice of our citizens.


Top three goals:

  1. Keeping education a top priority by making sure the school system has resources to hire the best teachers.
  2. Providing job opprotunities by expanding businesses with economic development incentives
  3. Keeping taxes as law as possible by streamlining services
Comments (2)
Posted by: Linda Sexton | Apr 28, 2014 09:01

Everyone gets on the bandwagon of "keeping taxes low and streamlining services".  The departments whose services I am familiar with, Animal Control and the Sheriff's Department, flat out need more funds.  Since we don't grow money on trees, tax increases are the only way that is going to happen.  The departments who serve the people of this county deserve the backing of taxpayers to provide the services that we expect.

Posted by: Scott Lilly | Apr 28, 2014 20:50

One definition of "streamlining services" is being sure services are on mission.  If public education has a constitutional charter to provide a free public school system for 9 months of the year, trying to extend that to provide summer school beyond 9 months or trying to somehow change the mission of "providing a free public school system" to being sure every student performs well in school isn't a streamlined service and therefore it will cost more.


Another way that you can audit streamlining services is to audit every government owned property in Haywood County.  Government-owned property isn't contributing to the property tax pool while at the same time incurring some kind of cost for maintaining the property.


Another way to streamline services is to figure out how many entities have direct or indirect costs attributable with government-associated non-profit organizations.  The County Fairgrounds, well, are there direct or indirect costs there to consider?  Yes, we've established that it's subject to Open Meeting Laws and that at least in legal documents is supposed to be receiving direct services from the County's financial guru.


Don't let anyone tell you that services are already streamlined.  That's a subjective statement and open to interpretation.  Good politicians could find things that aren't "core services" and eliminate them while at the same time focusing saved costs on core services.


As well, Ms. Sexton, maybe we can talk to the Maggie Valley community garden planners to see if they will plant some of those money trees that seem to flourish in Washington DC.  :-)


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