District 2 candidates answer questions

Published 12:05 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

Joe Barton spent most of his career in the automotive industry. He works in land development and excavation and part-time at Hilltop Restaurant.

Randall McCart is the owner of M&M Radiator and McCart Pecan.

Tony Wells is retired from Liberty National, is the former manager of the Covi-ngton Center Arena, and a member of the Sanford Town Council.

Q: Should the county remain on the unit system or return to the district system?

Joe Barton: Remain on the unit system. Basically, the unit system is nothing but a consolidation of equipment and manpower. It saves on duplication of equipment and is more effective. We were one of the last counties to go to onto the unit system, so if it wasn’t good, no one else would do it.

Randall McCart: I think the county should remain on the unit system. The unit system is the best thing for the county, I believe. Bragg Carter told me, that if it hadn’t been for the unit system, they’d had to have lay off hands and the money would have run out. Yes, I believe in the unit system. I believe it saved jobs. But you know, the unit system, it doesn’t matter how it is. It has to be managed in a different way.

Tony Wells: I believe that the unit system, financially, is the best idea. A lot of people in the rural areas feel that they’ve been deserted. I hope they haven’t been. My concerns are for them. I would work hard to be sure they get the attention they need to get in and out of their homes. I think that the writing on the wall, as far as finances go, it’s the thing to do.

It can be changed, and it can go back. But if it does, it should be by a vote of the people not the commissioners.


Q: For many years, county commissioners had direct responsibility for the county-maintained roads in their districts. Now that the system for managing roads has changed, what do you see as the job of a commissioner?

Barton: A commissioner’s job is still to answer and handle complaints from citizens in your district and relay those to proper department, be it the engineer, the road department or whatever department, and to be good stewards of the citizens’ money because the commissioners make decisions on spending that effects everyone.

McCart: I think a commissioner’s job is still to look after the roads and to manage the money and budget of the county. The commission should try to bring in more revenue and jobs. Like the arena is managed by Mr. Don Bullard. They need to get with Don and bring in stuff to bring in revenue into this county. The commissioners put the arena up for lease and (Bullard) leased it legally, but it don’t matter who, the commissioners still need to push the arena.

Wells: I believe the commission is still responsible for the roads in his district. I haven’t see where anyone has said not responsible for that. He’s not responsible for the crew that maintains them, but he is responsible for the county engineer, who works at the pleasure of the commission. The commissioner should be a conduit from the people of the county to the county government. If he will do that, then he has the same job he had before, other than to manage a piece of equipment. And we have very qualified people to do that. We have people who can drive motor graders and backhoes better than I ever could, and that’s who we need to depend on to do that work.


Q: Current commissioners have been criticized in this election for the mileage levels at which they have been compensated. Why are so many miles required, and how do you justify these? For non-incumbents, how do you plan to handle mileage if elected?

Barton: It’s already set up in budget for the mileage. I don’t think that will change. I do like everyone else – turn in what I drive, and those reports will be available. I don’t think they’ll be excessive. Well within the limits established.

McCart: If I’m elected, I plan to turn in very little mileage, if any. Go ride with the foreman or superintendents and that will save $30,000 a year on gas for the county.

Wells: Well, when I register my mileage, I will have a log, and in it, it will have where I go, when I went and what I went for. I think we need to keep it to a minimum. We have to get out and check the roads. I don’t think the county needs to furnish a vehicle for a commissioner to check the roads with, but if we’re going to be responsible for the roads, we got to get out there and check them. We don’t have a choice.


Q: One of the major tasks of the commission is to manage the county’s finances. What experience do you have in financial management? Can you read a financial statement?

Barton: I have a degree in business administration, which included finance courses. I also worked with an automotive industry as a finance manager. And, yes, I can read a financial statement.

McCart: I’ve been in business for 30 years. I have lived on a budget. I know how it is to live on a budget. I know how it is to not have wasteful spending and make it. I’ve done very well in 30 years, and I feel that’s the way the commission has to do, to stop wasteful spending. And to stop the wasteful spending, we need to start with the commissioners and cut out the mileage.

Yes, I can read a financial statement.

Wells: I can read a financial statement very well. In fact, I managed the Arena for eight years and worked off a line item budget the county prepared for me and we agreed on. I worked for Liberty National (Insurance Co.) for 23 years off of a budget. I’ve had personal businesses of my own that I had to develop a budget for. The key to our success, financially for the county, is to make a budget and to stay within it and set that budget on revenues that came in the year before, not what might come in next year. You’ll be lots more likely to generate the same revenue you had the year before, not increase revenue. If you have some left over, you can use it in your budget for the next year. I don’t think we need a large bank account with the county. I think we need to use that money to help the people of the county, the people who put it there to begin with, to enhance our county.


Q: What’s the biggest issue facing the county in the next four years?

Barton: It’s probably going to be money management. With FEMA money gone from the county and funding from the federal and state level reduced, it’s putting a larger burden on the counties, and we’re going to have to tighten our belt and do the best we can with what we have to work with.

McCart: Money. They say FEMA money is going to run out in two years, and I believe that’s when the county is going to be put to test. Commission is going to have to really maintain the budget closely.

Wells: I think attracting jobs to the county so that our children can stay here is the biggest issue facing the county, and preparing our county to attract those jobs. We have to have the roads in shape so that the people who bring those jobs are interested in our county. It’s about aesthetics and making our roads clean, pretty and attractive to make people come here. And we need to help schools so they can fill those jobs when they get here.