As an elected county commissioner, I will commit to sustaining the excellence of our county public schools by ensuring that politics, regardless of ideology, are kept out of the educational curriculum.
In 2017, the Carteret County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution making school board elections partisan, effectively rescinding the will of county voters who chose two decades ago to make board of education elections non-partisan.
The resolution, which has since been signed into state law, was passed on a consent agenda without prior warning or opportunity for public comment. Likewise, the board of education was kept completely in the dark until after the resolution was passed. When citizens became aware of this exercise in political sneakiness, I, along with many others, spoke out, asking the county commissioners to reconsider the decision, or if nothing else, place this issue before county voters once again, as a ballot referendum. Our requests went unheeded and ignored.
This unsavory back door maneuver was executed for solely partisan political purposes, doing nothing to improve public schools and is an affront to students, parents, teachers, the school board and voters. Although the 2018 school board election will be partisan, once I am elected county commissioner, I pledge to continue fighting to keep political shenanigans out of the curriculum of our public schools.
We must confront the growing opioid crisis that is having tragic consequences across North Carolina and here in Carteret County.
The opioid epidemic has become the worst drug abuse crisis in American history. The National Safety Council says drug overdoses have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States with nearly 80 people dying each day nationwide—from opioid abuse alone.
No stranger to this tragedy, North Carolina has experienced an 800% increase in overdose deaths from prescription and non-prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Heroin since 1999. Eastern North Carolina and Carteret County also suffered a devastating spike in opioid-related overdoses and deaths in the last decade.
To confront this growing problem, Carteret County must take the lead in developing an aggressive community plan of action involving local stakeholders, including health care, prevention and treatment subject matter experts, law enforcement professionals as well as public schools and faith based groups. Carteret County and Onslow recently committed short term funding to establish and support a 16 bed crisis center and the board of commissioners likewise adopted a resolution calling the opioid crisis a "public nuisance". These are excellent first steps, however more remains to be done. As a county commissioner I will strive to ensure local government remains involved and actively engaged. We must recognize in Carteret County that the time for silence has passed and what we do as a community truly matters.
Carteret County has only one Crystal Coast and for both environmental and economic reasons I will continue working with concerned citizens opposed to seismic blasting and offshore drilling and other harmful practices that could impact the vitality of our coast.
In the past two years, town councils/commissions in Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Cedar Point, Emerald Isle, Morehead City and Pine Knoll Shores all passed resolutions against these hazardous practices. Business leaders, including the membership of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce and the county Tourism Development Authority also passed resolutions in strong opposition. In 2015, Carteret County Commissioners ignored local concerns and chose to side with Big Oil. This unacceptable lack of accountability to our community is one more reason why I decided to run for county commissioner. Recent scientific studies have further cemented the need to take positive action on these serious concerns. Protecting our Crystal Coast is not a Democrat or Republican challenge, it is a concern for our entire community. When elected, I intend to carry on the fight to protect our coastline for future generations.
As an elected Carteret County commissioner, I will relentlessly encourage sensible job growth, particularly for the Down East communities of District 6, including:
✔ Seeking ways county government and public sector stakeholders can effectively collaborate to create new sustainable jobs
✔ Promoting the “Carteret Brand” and emphasizing what makes our county a special place to work and live
✔ Encouraging new businesses to relocate to Carteret County
✔ Supporting the expansion of existing local businesses, including tourism and commercial fishing
✔ Leveraging our resources by partnering with the Duke, UNC and NC State Marine research labs
✔ Supporting the Marine Sciences and Technology High School initiative envisioned by the County Board of Education and Carteret Community College
✔ Focusing on innovative and entrepreneurial thought
✔ Identifying infrastructure and broadband expansion investments the county and public sector stakeholders can and must make
Building, transitioning into and investing in a positive economic environment that creates good jobs is a county imperative. This is a both a daunting and an exciting challenge. We have an opportunity to shape our county’s economic future--making it all the more important for leaders in local government and the public sector to take action.
Implementing a dynamic economic development plan to create sustainable, 21st Century jobs that keep our county vibrant, our local economy and tax base growing and provides real job opportunities for our young people and their families to make a decent living is paramount.
Carteret County recently released a comprehensive Strategic Economic Development Plan and hired a new executive director for the Economic Development Council (EDC). This plan outlines a way forward for our community that if successful, will result in growing our local economy, expanding the county tax base and providing 21st century jobs for young people and their families.