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Article 59
Published: Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 5:00 a.m.
Local candidates speak on issues

By Heather J. Smith
The Dispatch

Thursday night at the Davidson County Courthouse, the county Republican Convention was asked if felons should be able to run for the office of sheriff.

The party's answer was emphatic: No.

Party chairman Lance Barrett welcomed delegates, candidates and guests. After concluding most of the meeting's business, Barrett asked the crowd to turn its attention to a resolution supporting a bill introduced by state Sen. Stan Bingham, R-33, that would bar felons from running for the office of sheriff.

The resolution was passed with only a small group voting against.

Barrett then invited Republican candidates from all local contested races to speak briefly. The recent passage of health care reform and higher taxes were the focus of comments by national and state candidates, but economic woes were discussed by all local candidates.

Incumbent Davidson County Commissioner Sam Watford touched on projects he supported in the past, and promised the same dedication to the job in the future if re-elected.

"Local government cannot be all things to all people," Watford said. "Ours is a complex world and there are no simple fixes or simplistic solutions. But when the polls close, I will continue serving the Lord, my family and, if enough people have confidence in me, Davidson County."

Fellow incumbent Commissioner Don Truell pointed to schools built or remodeled, new sewer lines constructed, an addition to the Denton Library, fundamentals constructed for a county public transportation system, economic development incentives given to prospective businesses and other accomplishments made over the last eight years.

"But we did all these things, and what I'm more proud of, is that with the seven people on the board, we did all this without an increase in the tax rate," Truell said.

County commissioner candidate Eric Osborne's message was brief.

"I came up here to talk about taxes, tax breaks, relinquishing pay, but I'm not going to do it because, the way I look at it, the party's already gone to who they want us to vote for, so I won't waste anyone else's time," he said.

Owen Moore, also running for commissioner, told the crowd he was proud to be a third generation conservative Republican. If elected, he promised to be a listener and a learner as the county found new ways to revive prosperity.

"One of the main things I will be interested in is, like they say in real estate: 'location, location, location.' Only on this, it will be 'jobs, jobs, jobs,' " Moore said. "The people whose jobs went away, we need to get them employed. That will help everything."

Billy Joe Kepley first came to the board of commissioners in 1990. Unlike most candidates' top issues of law enforcement, school performance and economic development, Kepley explained there are professional staff looking after the daily duties of each. The commissioner's job was to develop new, innovative ways to guide that staff and move the county in the future.

"One of the things I've pushed for is small businesses," Kepley said. "They have been somewhat ignored, so I've pushed for something we can do for small businesses. When large industries move overseas, they take jobs with them. That doesn't happen with smaller companies."

Eddie Gallimore, running for a seat on the county board, has been vice chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party for the past year. He supports the right to bear arms, is a graduate of Central Davidson High School and owns a construction and grading business.

"Jobs are something that we need," Gallimore said. "I know. I have spent a lot of time with friends that are not working. We need to do whatever it takes within reason. We don't want to go and spend a lot of money like some of the counties to have a building sitting empty because somebody is coming in and doing great things for us and then they up and pull out on us."

Kenneth "Stump" Cavender told the assembly he spent 30 years in industrial management and currently owns a small business. He said frankly he does not feel represented by the current county board, and decided to run to "move the commissioners a little more to the right."

"I feel that if I'm elected commissioner I'm going to work very hard for a lot of the small companies in Davidson County because that's where the growth is going to be in Davidson County," Cavender said.

Commissioner candidate Dwight Cornelison spoke about experience gained during his eight years on the Thomasville City Council. Like the other candidates, he cited jobs and the economy as the top issues of this election, calling for a freeze in all construction and capital spending for the next two years. Cornelison also mentioned intent to press the General Assembly to put a definition of marriage before
North Carolina voters.

"We can talk jobs, we can talk taxes, we can talk everything we want, but without a strong family unit, we will not have a strong community and we will not have a strong economy," Cornelison said.

Larry Allen, former commissioner running to get his seat back on the county board, criticized the current board for accepting ownership of the Wil-Cox Bridge. He talked about his conservative voting record while on the board and promised, if elected, he would spur the county to work harder to recruit business.

"We have to let the world know that Davidson County is open for business," Allen said.

Heather J. Smith can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 228 or at heatherj.smith@the-dispatch.com.

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