Non-incumbents discuss county issues

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Mar 21, 2014
Photo by: Jessi Stone Candidates for office talk to residents at a Wednesday meeting at Sagebrush. Pictured from left are Mike Matthews, Kyle Edwards, Phillip Wight, Windy McKinney, Mike Clampitt and Denny King.

Political candidates from three parties in Haywood County held a public meeting Wednesday night at Sagebrush Steakhouse in Waynesville to get feedback from residents.

As non-incumbents, the candidates named several issues of concern, including the county's emergency management ordinance that infringes on property rights and the county debt.

More than 30 people showed up to hear from the candidates and ask them questions. Phillip Wight, a Maggie Valley alderman and Republican candidate for county commissioner, organized the meeting.

Also in attendance was Mike Clampitt, Republican candidate for NC House of Representatives Seat 119, Windy McKinney, the first Haywood County Libertarian candidate for county commissioner, Kyle Edwards, Democratic candidate for county commissioner, Mike Matthews, Republican candidate for tax collector, and Denny King, Republican candidate for county commissioner.

 

Introductions

While introducing himself, Clampitt said his priorities are creating jobs, education and state’s rights.

“I’m all about our state taking back the rights we deserve… someone’s got to stand up and say no,” he said.

McKinney thanked everyone for the great turn out and encouraged public discussion on how the candidates could improve the county.

“I hope we can continue to do this after we’re elected,” she said.

As a Libertarian, she said she is a strict Constitutionalist, meaning that the government should be defined by the powers granted in the Constitution and nothing more. She said government has overstepped its boundaries and shouldn’t be involved in people’s everyday lives.

Edwards said he decided to run because of several personal property issues he has had in the past.

“I’ve got stories that will scare you to death. If not for (lawyer) Rusty McLean, I’d probably be in jail right now,” he said. He added that Rep. Michelle Presnell, R-Burnsville, also went out of her way to help him.

Matthews, who served as a Maggie Valley alderman for two years but lost in the election last year, said he was running for tax collector against incumbent David Francis because “somehow in this economy, they’ve (the county) figured out a way to raise taxes through the tax collector’s office.” He said the county needed to stop using the tax collector’s office as a bank account.

“A town can prosper and grow without raising taxes,” he said. “Increasing the tax base needs to be done by enticing people to come here — not by raising taxes on the people already here.”

The current tax rate is about 54 cents. Julie Davis, county finance director, said the county tax rate historically has decreased over the last 10 years. But in the 2008-09 fiscal year, it increased from about 49 cents to 51 cents because property values dropped during the re-valuation and rates were increased to have revenue neutral rates.

"But before 2009, it was 61 cents and before that it was 72 cents, so historically it's come down," Davis said.

King, an engineer from Canton, said he had an issue with the property tax increases in the county. While most people in the county saw a 6-percent increase to their taxes, he said he received a 30-percent increase.

“A lot of people in our county are afraid of our government and we need to reverse that,” he said. “… Our government needs to have a fear of the people of this county.”

Emergency management

A big topic at the gathering was the emergency management ordinance the county passed in 2009. All of the candidates agreed that the ordinance infringed on resident’s property rights.

McKinney said the language in the ordinance gave FEMA authority to come into someone’s house during a state of emergency without consent. She said she was in favor of nullifying the ordinance because she sees it as unconstitutional.

“They can take your possessions without regard to any other law,” she said.

Clampitt said the ordinance was a result of President Barack Obama’s Emergency Management Act. He said the act empowers FEMA to come into an area declared a natural disaster and establish marshal law over local law enforcement.

“I’ve got a lot of heartburn with that,” Clampitt said.

Wight said there were videos all over YouTube of FEMA taking away guns from people after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

McKinney said an act like that should have gone to a referendum before being passed. She also said other counties, like Macon County, didn’t choose to pass an emergency management ordinance.

“The big thing I have against it, is it’s totally unconstitutional all the way through,” King said. “I would take an oath to not pass anything unconstitutional.”

 

County debt

The candidates also discussed the county’s debt, claiming it needs to be lowered. McKinney said the county’s debt was at $68 million and she was interested in hearing ideas from the public on how to starting cutting down that debt.

However, according to Davis, the county debt as of December 2013 was $63,391,440. She said the estimated debt for June 2014 was $60,975,868. That debt includes several capital projects on the courthouse, justice center, several Haywood County schools and the new Department of Social Services building. She added that many of the loans were general obligation loans, which required a public vote.

Waynesville resident Jonnie Cure said she spoke with Davis, who told her the county has the ability to borrow up to 8 percent of the total value of real property in Haywood County, which would total more than $500 million.

Since the county is way below that percentage, “they feel like they’ve done a good job because they can borrow a lot more,” Cure said.

McKinney said the only options to pay off that debt more quickly is to stop borrowing money, cut spending or cut services. She said another solution is to privatize some of the services the county is currently providing.

“I’m willing to cut taxes, but you have to tell me what services you’re willing to do without,” she said to the residents.

King agreed that some services could be privatized to reduce the size of the government.

“I’ve said before even though I’ve been told not to — our property tax is way too high. People need to be able to keep more of their money,” he said.

Matthews said the county didn’t have to get rid of services in order to cut taxes just like he did in Maggie Valley.

“There’s so much fat in the budget and just because a budget is balanced doesn’t mean you can go buy new cars — that’s where you cut it,” he said.

After the discussion candidates answered questions from the audience. McKinney said the candidates would continue to hold public meetings to get input from constituents.

Comments (7)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Mar 21, 2014 09:35

All the way from California, after reading this article it feels like I was there.  It's why I love my Mountaineer Online!

 

Mr. Edwards (a Democrat) gave kudos to Rep. Purcell (a Republican) -- demonstrated integrity.  LOVE IT.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Mar 21, 2014 11:43

It was a great event. The restaurant first gave us their small meeting room. The turn out of concerned citizens was such they graciously allowed us to move into the entire back section. The atmosphere was the best non-partisan "lets work together" spirit I have seen in years.

I am looking forward to the next gathering and hope there is an even greater turnout. It is this level of cooperation that can turn our government around.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Mar 22, 2014 10:29

               "Privatization" results in a denial of the protections of OUR shared constitutions.

                Anyone claiming to be a "strict constitutionalist" usually knows nothing of the Founding Principles it was written upon. Like looking at a building without inspecting the infrastructure/foundation.

 

                   C.Z.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Mar 22, 2014 15:43

Sone aspects of pur personal and daily lives should not be dependent upon government intrusion. Thus the premise and call of "privatization."



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Mar 22, 2014 15:44

Sone = some



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Mar 23, 2014 09:06

           Mr. Alsbrooks;

 

           Most certainly there are private issues that are considered to be civil rights that are to be equally protected from intrusion by OUR govt, but yet there are many instances where moralists have intruded unnecessarily. Abortion is a prime case. Even though abortion until first kick was legally protected by common law(7th Amendment), it was deemed illegal resulting in a denial of any woman's civil right of self-determination. As Roe vs. Wade pointed out, the 14th Amendment clarifies the issue of when OUR rights of citizenship begin and re-establishes the Founding Principle of citizenship by birth. But yet there has been a constant attack on  the Deistic notion of Naturally inherent inalienable rights by religionists that choose not to believe in such a thing.

               As to insurance, I recognize it is a Ponzi scheme whereby the insurance companies are gambling on the fact that many will not need care/services while paying to support those that do. Personally, I was for single payer Medicare/caid for all. State run hospitals like the VA as opposed to for profit. No religious based hospitals should get any public money as far as I am concerned.

            I do not support taxes being used to support private industry except as sub-contractors like roads/infrastructure.

            Having the ability to hold people responsible by means of OUR shared constitutions is of utmost importance.

 

                 C.Z.



Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Mar 24, 2014 00:15

Indeed.



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