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Watford brings business experience to the table

by ERIN WILTGEN Thomasville Times
November 2010

Watford, Republican incumbent from Thomasville, will compete for one of four spots for Davidson County Commissioner in the November election.

Currently the vice-chairman of the board, Watford is serving his second term, He owns and operates Watford Construction Company, and is a licensed plumbing contractor and a private pilot.

As an incumbent, I feel like we just kind of run on what we have done,” he said. “I try to serve my county to the best of my abilities. I try to bring a little common sense to the board, and a little business sense.”

Watford already has put that business sense to use. Though the board previously had a system in place to grant incentives to companies looking to invest $1 million or more in the county, Watford introduced a plan about a year go to widen that grant program to include smaller businesses.

I’m a small business man myself,” he said. “There’s no question about whether we are the backbone of the economy in this country.”

Watford’s plan changes the standards of incentive grants to include companies proposing less than a $1 million investment.

As far as government goes, that’s about all that we can do is be as business friendly as we can — all of our planning and permitting processes — and at the same time give our tax rebate grants,” Watford said. “It does give them a little bit of a boost.”

Other than that, however, Watford says he prefers a government that remains hands-off.

I believe in the free-enterprise, capitalistic supply and demand economy,” he said. “As long as we keep government out of our business, that’s the key to it. You’ve got to have some regulations or people get hurt. But the least government we can get by with, the better, especially on the local level.

Watford takes a bit of a different stance toward education. He says the county has a large role in the school system.

“The largest single expenditure is education out of the budget,” Watford said.

The county already has purchased land for a middle and high school in the northern part of the county. Watford says the county will begin building the middle school first, and will probably do so with stimulus bonds. The high school should follow in about four years, he says.

The middle school up there is extremely crowded,” he said, adding that North Davidson High School, where his wife teaches, is reaching its limit as well. “It’s about as large as I’d like to see a high school in this county. The larger they get, you seem to lose a little.”

But school construction isn’t the only aspect that the county gets involved in. Operating costs of existing schools range pretty high, and that burden falls on the county as well.

We play a big part in education other than just building schools,” Watford said. “Anytime we add a new school building, we add a lot of money to the power bills.

Watford says that while education and economic development remain top of the list in terms of issues facing the county, he also would like to focus more on the mental health system, especially since the county lost its mental health department.

We’re not getting the level of service that we need compared to what it costs,” he said.

Recreation also is something Watford would like to work on. He says he would like to see more work done on the county’s parks and an increased number of walking trails.

We need some more recreation facilities in the county,” Watford said. “That’s something we’re short on.”

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