Three candidates are operating for the 2 seats within the usually scheduled election for the Board of County Commissioners. We requested all 5 native candidates the identical set of questions:
1. Within the final two elections, Stokes County voters had been requested to assist a ¼-cent gross sales tax enhance. What’s your opinion of this? Would you be in favor of asking once more? In that case, how would you recommend spending these further funds?
Sonya Cox (R): The ¼-cent gross sales and use tax might generate $800,000 to $1.2 million in further income for our county. Compared, if the county had been to lift property taxes by 1 cent, it might solely generate 388,500 a yr. The ¼-cent gross sales and use tax is a a lot fairer tax; everybody pays it, not simply property house owners, who now bear a lot of the tax burden. If handed, I really feel that it might assist us keep our present property tax price for a few years to come back and, greatest case state of affairs, might probably scale back it by some measure. In some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, I imagine that this must be put again on the poll for referendum and let the folks resolve, I believe if they’d extra data and understanding of how this might assist the county it could cross sooner or later. It’s my understanding that the extra income can’t be earmarked earlier than the referendum, nonetheless faculty security, the wants of our first responders, psychological well being wants and combating the opioid disaster could be priorities.
Brian Davis (D): I stand for the rise however am not in favor of the actions previous to the proposal of the rise. I imagine that we might have modified our county’s spending and shopping for habits and we’d of by no means wanted the gross sales tax enhance. Our native authorities shouldn’t be a enterprise; it doesn’t take cash to generate income as a result of our county cash comes from “We the Folks.” Our job is to make use of that cash for the good thing about the county and the folks in it. The folks should see their funds being nicely spent and of their favor.
Ronnie Mendenhall (R) (I): A fast evaluation: the ¼-cent gross sales tax on the poll within the 2016 presidential election was defeated soundly, the ¼-cent gross sales tax within the 2018 election was defeated once more however by a better quantity. Ought to the gross sales tax have handed within the 2018 election, although a county could not stipulate using the cash on the poll, it was promoted and marketed that the monies could be utilized towards enhancements of college services and towards faculty security enhancements. As a result of uncertainty and unknown in our world proper now because of the Covid 19 virus, many companies have been affected attributable to our statewide restrictions. Now shouldn’t be the time to put the ¼-cent gross sales tax on the poll with a lot uncertainty positioned upon our residents in Stokes County attributable to so many restrictions.
2. Getting web connectivity is a vital situation for Stokes County. What steps would you are taking as County Commissioner to make sure that it turns into accessible to probably the most distant components of the county?
Cox: Rural Web connectivity is crucial to Stokes County’s continued progress and financial improvement. It’s crucial that we proceed to have a look at all potentialities to offer the wanted excessive velocity connectivity, particularly since we’re dependent upon it for distant studying and lots of who’re persevering with to earn a living from home. Delivering broadband to rural areas is capital intensive and the decrease variety of clients in rural areas tends to not justify the excessive infrastructure prices. That is why mounted wi-fi is perhaps the magic bullet, time will inform. Commissioner Nickelston not too long ago unveiled a plan to buy and develop Stokes Wi-Fi. Hopefully this shall be of some treatment. If native authorities can collaborate to offer entry for towers and antennas and apply for state and federal grants, I believe this could be ultimate for any firm prepared to resolve this downside for Stokes County. I agree that efforts to develop Web connectivity to the underserved, distant areas of our county should be accelerated, nonetheless I don’t assume it’s the governments job to subsidize personal enterprise.
Davis: We herald two new web providers and we’re nonetheless probably not fixing the problems however we’re regular dumping more cash into these corporations. Possibly the contracts aren’t being upheld or both the cash shouldn’t be being put in direction of the difficulty. I see new suppliers with new vans and new buildings however I’m not seeing new areas with new web. Possibly we aren’t actually placing within the leg work to control and ensure these corporations are holding true to the settlement of making a method to get web to areas with out it.
Mendenhall: After the current announcement of Commissioner Andy Nickelston coping with his partnership of an web firm, the purpose acknowledged within the paper was that he “hoped that between Eight and 12 months we’ll have every thing up and operating.” Nickelston acknowledged that “web shall be accessible at an reasonably priced value.” Allow us to see how this proceeds right now.
3. The Stokes County Division of Well being’s Director says it’s understaffed for nurses and contact-tracers right now. How will you see to it that they get the assets they should proceed serving the county throughout this pandemic? Would you be in favor of tapping the county’s reserve funds to develop that division?
Cox: We have now been very lucky in our county that our case numbers have been low, if our numbers pattern downward, further employees is probably not wanted to handle this downside. Ought to we now have a big enhance in instances, I’d first search for further state and federal COVID aid cash earlier than trying to faucet in to the county’s emergency reserve funds. If I’m elected, I’d like to see a wants evaluation of the well being division to get a greater concept of what’s wanted throughout the board, not simply pandemic associated.
Davis: In terms of caring for residence we must always by no means hesitate to offer in direction of the protection of our county. If we examine apples to apples together with statistics are our nurses larger or lower than a county just like ours? I do know that our fireplace departments are means under-staffed and but they nonetheless handle to deal with extra calls than any related county. In terms of the welfare and emergency providers, we shouldn’t hesitate to construct a powerful crew.
Mendenhall: If the COVID-19 Cares Act funding shouldn’t be accessible for use for this staffing, then I’d be in favor of utilizing the county’s fund stability to develop the Well being Division throughout this pandemic.
4. What areas do you are feeling want probably the most focus by way of Financial Improvement?
Cox: Financial improvement is significant to conserving taxes low and offering jobs for our county. Attracting new companies to our county is paramount, the infrastructure wanted to draw new companies is crucial. Expanded water, sewer, excessive velocity web, and cellular phone protection would profit each present and new enterprises. Tourism and outside recreation are drivers of rural economies. This might be an untapped useful resource for our county. Final yr, Hanging Rock State Park had a record-breaking yr, with 689,379 guests. As tourism continues to develop we should additionally protect and defend our pure assets and great thing about our county. Agribusiness must be a part of our Financial Improvement Strategic Plan, as 23% of our counties employment is in agriculture. I really feel this space must be targeted on. The contribution of America’s farmers is commonly missed and is an space that our county might significantly expound upon. I really feel like we must always work with native municipalities to provide you with a strategic financial improvement plan that features all stakeholders, in all areas of the county.
Davis: Actually, we dwell in a rural county and I really feel like that could be a query for the folks to resolve and never simply the person. Folks transfer to the town as a result of they wish to be there. Folks transfer to the nation as a result of they wish to be there. Financial progress must be decided by the person communities that dwell in that group.
Mendenhall: Infrastructure wants reminiscent of water, sewer, web, and transportation which can entice companies and vacationer teams to Stokes County.
5. How would you promote and unify Stokes County?
Cox: I think about myself an enormous fan of Stokes County, considered one of its largest cheerleaders. Our county could be very lucky to have Tory Mabe, tourism and advertising supervisor for Stokes County. Tory manages the day-to-day social media accounts, promoting, graphic design, promotional supplies and the tourism web site for our county. I believe that it’s crucial that we make it possible for that he has the assets to maintain our county on the forefront of tourism in our state. We have now a lot pure magnificence and leisure alternatives, a lot to advertise. Stokes County is really a hidden gem. So far as unifying the county, I don’t actually see that our county has an issue with unity. We have now generations of hard-working, caring, form folks throughout our county. They’re prepared to assist their neighbors when a necessity arises, and that’s from one finish of the county to the opposite, neighbors serving to neighbors communities serving to communities. A instance of that is the stokes county militia a bunch that goes throughout our state serving to when there are pure disasters, they increase cash to assist folks in our personal group as nicely. Not too long ago they held an occasion in Walnut Cove to offer a group meal and to attempt to bolster unity in our county. I went to this occasion, as did many others, I assumed it what’s a step in the appropriate course and we have to do extra of those sort of occasions. I believe that we are able to look to religion based mostly group for outreach as nicely. My church, in addition to many others from throughout our county take part in a Mission Blitz weekend of constructing. cleansing and serving to people who find themselves want which have nobody to assist them, they construct handicap ramps, clear gutters, no matter is required. I really feel like they are going to play an enormous position in any sort of unification course of. So far as from a governmental standpoint there are month-to-month League of Authorities conferences the place we might begin engaged on countywide occasions and countywide strategic planning. We’re solely as sturdy as our weakest hyperlink however we’re at all times Stokes County Robust.
Davis: We have to present extra occasions so we are able to get out and meet our neighbors. We have to get youth extra concerned in the way forward for our county.
Mendenhall: First, a candidate should keep in mind that he/she represents all residents in all areas of the county. A commissioner ought to at all times bear in mind to deal with folks and communities persistently and pretty. Communication is extraordinarily vital in selling unity.
6. How do you propose to speak with constituents?
Cox: My plan to speak with my constituents could be to make the most of any and all means accessible to speak with them, this would come with, however not be restricted to, social media accounts, i.e. Fb, Twitter, Instagram, additionally by electronic mail and by telephone. I’ve an open door, open communication coverage. I do intend to have common workplace hours in King and Danbury on a month-to-month foundation or as wanted.
Davis: By constructing a private relationship. We’re all neighbors in Stokes County. “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
Mendenhall: I imagine communication together with your constituents is extraordinarily vital. I imagine communication nose to nose in particular person is the best means of communication. I additionally talk by e-mail, textual content and telephone. My telephone quantity is listed within the telephone guide: 336-994-1083 residence and 336-293-3359 cell.
7. Given private and household commitments, how will you be capable of successfully handle and symbolize Stokes County with the time-consuming duties that come as a part of being a County Commissioner?
Cox: I definitely don’t assume this shall be a problem for me. I served on the Board of Schooling for 15½ years whereas I had 4 school-age youngsters, concerned in quite a few sports activities and actions, labored full-time and I survived that, whereas solely lacking a few conferences in my total time period of service. I’m very adept at time administration. I’m self-employed, so I can simply work my schedule across the conferences, duties and necessities of the workplace.
Davis: Nothing would change. As dad and mom, fathers, husband’s, brothers or sisters, we discover methods to make issues occur. I really imagine that it takes a village to lift a baby. This isn’t about me, it’s concerning the larger good of our county. That is virtually like asking a soldier how does he plan to find time for the navy.
Mendenhall: I’m retired and I’m able to serve on any committees wanted at any time. I can meet at any time; day or night time. I’ve no restrictions.
8. Backside line: Why ought to residents assist you with their vote?
Cox: I’m operating for commissioner as a result of I imagine I could make a distinction in our county. I really feel like I can construct on the constructive course our county goes . I care about this county, the folks and our communities. I imagine that I can convey a recent imaginative and prescient, maybe a distinct perspective, expertise and commonsense, conservative management. I served on the Board of Schooling 15 1/2 years, the flexibility of our two boards to work collectively for the frequent good of the kids of stokes county is of utmost significance. My background and schooling expertise, finances work and troubleshooting will serve me nicely as a commissioner. Our faculties have to be secure and have the assets wanted to supply college students prepared for larger studying or the vocational lessons to enter the workforce. As a Christian, I imagine in defending our spiritual liberties and our constitutional freedoms, together with our second modification rights. I imagine The last word job of a commissioner could be to be steward of the general public belief and do enterprise in environment friendly and clear method. I’m targeted on the long run and I shall be your voice. I’m operating to symbolize you, if it’s vital to you, it’s vital to me.
Davis: Assist me as a result of i care about Stokes County and I imagine in caring for residence and the nice folks in it. We pay taxes to make our residence our residence and a greater future for different generations to come back. Let’s clear up our group’s and repair points. I’m prepared to place within the legwork and hearken to the folks. We the folks fund our personal native authorities and we as an entire ought to have a say-so. I would be the voice for everybody. Republican or Democrat, who cares? I really like my county and I’ve fought for everybody on this nice nation.
Mendenhall: Residents ought to assist me with their vote as a result of I wish to see Stokes County progress to be the perfect county attainable. Stokes County is my residence county. I’m prepared to surrender my time to symbolize our county at any time. I’ve budgeted quantities of cash yearly as much as $63 million once I labored within the faculty system, which permits me to assist hold the county’s fund stability in excellent form. My love for Stokes County although is the primary motive I hope to obtain your assist.