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Wednesday, 26 April 2006 00:00

Swain commissioner candidate snapshots

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Three candidates are running for Swain County chairman in the Democratic Primary.

Glenn Jones, 66, A&P grocery manager

Jones said he wants to continue with the progress of the last four years.

Over the past four years, the county made recreation upgrades including new lights for the ball field, a new playground and a new splash area. The county has built a model recycling center, a new EMS center, moved the health department and DSS into new quarters, redone the entrance to the administration building and is pursuing a new jail and sheriff’s office. Many of the projects were done with grants. Jones also is concerned about protecting the environment of Swain County for future generations.

Ronnie Barker, 54, recruiter for Job Corp

Barker’s motto is “aggressively progressive.”

“The incumbents have stated that we are getting ready for a growth explosion. We are not getting ready for a growth explosion. The growth is here. It is the responsibility of the Swain County government to preserve the character of these mountains. We can do this through working with the people within the communities and educating these people as to what the needs are.”

Barker feels some outlying communities are ignored by county government. Barker would like to see the fire departments and rescue squads get more support. Barker said natural resources are the county’s best asset and tourism the key to economic development.

Boyd Gunter, 55, medical tech at VA Hospital lab in Oteen

Gunter wants to lobby the state to do away with the system of periodically appraising everyone’s property to reflect market value, which in turn determines how much they owe in property taxes.

“If we don’t do something to get control of our county, it is going to be run by outsiders because local people aren’t going to afford to live here. We are pulling in people from out of state who have extra income and come up here and say, ‘We want a piece of the mountains. Farmers cannot compete with this. Young people can’t stay here. This is heritage.”

10 candidates are running for four commissioner seats in the Democratic primary

David Monteith, 59, former Ingles manager and currently a school bus driver

Monteith has been a commissioner for eight years. Monteith was instrumental in securing grants to develop a system for pumping wastewater from houseboats off Lake Fontana and grants for the Old 288 Park, building much of the trail system himself. Monteith lobbied the Tennessee Valley Authority to postpone and lessen drawdown of Lake Fontana. Monteith said he is now lobbying for grants for an assisted living center as his “next big project.” Monteith also supports “wise growth” and heritage tourism.

Monteith voted against the tax rate and the budget last year, claiming the tax rate was not lowered enough to off-set the impact from a property revaluation. The budget also included an increase in commissioners’ stipends.

“I don’t think we should vote for yourself a raise. I turned mine back in,” Monteith said.

David Anthony, 56, Job Corps facility maintenance instructor

Anthony has been a commissioner for four years.

“I hope we can continue on with the good work we are doing right now. I work as a team with the other commissioners and we have gotten a lot done.” (See accomplishments listed under Glenn Jones.)

Anthony would like to see a new senior citizen gathering place. He also foresees greater funding for the sheriff’s office to help them keep up with the population growth.

Genevieve Lindsay, 65, former register of deeds and tax collector and assessor

Lindsay has been a commissioner for four years.

“We have accomplished so much during the past four years and there is still a lot of things we would like to complete.” (See accomplishments listed under Glenn Jones.)

“I know there is tremendous growth as far as people moving into the county putting strain and stress on all the agencies.... With each decision I have to make I think about all the people out there, the entire county.”

Ben Bushyhead, 58, director of community and recreation services with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Bushyhead has promoted himself as a consensus builder, whether it is relations between the county and tribe, developers and farmers, newcomers and natives, or Road to Nowhere factions.

“We need someone who can bring all these factions and parties together to begin the dialogue. It has to be someone who will bring all the parties together and listen to what everyone has to say in a civil setting.”

He also supports better pay for teachers.

“If we honestly believe our greatest resource is our youth, why do we pay those in whose hands we place them the least amount of money? That flat doesn’t make sense.”

Vivian Robbins, 54, owner of the former Headquarters Hair Design

“I am very much into the environmental protection of the area, especially our mountains. I would love to get involved in land-use planning.

“This county takes you back to a simpler, less complicated time. In your lifetime you will see major changes in Swain County. If we don’t take an interest and plan carefully, our streams and mountains, our air and our natural resources will be beyond repair. You can never replace these.”

Steve Moon, 55, owner of Steve Moon Tire Co.

“We need more good jobs to lure our young people and give them an option where they are able to stay here and raise a family in relative comfort and not have to settle for a McDonald’s job or minimum wage job.”

Moon also wants to build a new elementary school in the central part of the county.

Troy Burns, 54, small business owner and real estate developer

“One of my platforms is the preservation of natural resources. After we’ve grown exponentially by the year 2025, we want to still maintain this atmosphere of a beautiful Appalachian village. We need to be proactive now in the way we plan for the future.”

Burns advocates downtown revitalization, preserving historic buildings, broadband Internet initiatives, promoting Appalachian music and crafts, increasing school funding, and increasing law enforcement and EMS funding.

Jonathan Douthit, 49, retired probation and parole officer and business administrator with Swain County Hospital

Lobbying for a cash settlement in lieu of the North Shore road is definitely Douthit’s top issue, but he also wants to step up the fight against methamphetamine.

“It ruins people. Two weeks of it can knock 10 points off your IQ for the rest of your life. We need to fund local law enforcement to give them more money and more tools to root that out of here. Maybe the sheriff could use some more money to be creative.”

Lou Ball, 41, Yellow Rose Realty

Ball said she wants to see better salaries for county employees.

“Right now Swain County is a training ground. You come here, get a job, they send you to school, get the certifications you need and then go to a surrounding county because they pay more.”

She said the county needs to fund departments like law enforcement and the offices that issue building and septic permits to keep up with demands of growth, and do more for schools so children aren’t sharing textbooks. Ball also supports a subdivision ordinance.

“We have subdivisions going in with roads so small you can’t get a fire truck or ambulance up them. You have to have ordinances in place for people’s safety. People won’t do it on their own. They have t be made to do what is right.”

Phillip Carson, 43, plumber

Carson wants better funding for the fire departments and rescue squad.

Carson doesn’t support any land-use regulations. Carson doesn’t have a specific platform.

“I am not a politician. I am just an honest hard-working person.”

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