Monday, March 4, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Two Republican incumbents, one Democratic challenger to face off in county commissioner race for two seats


Positions of the three candidates for county commissioner break down in many cases along the partisan lines of their political affiliations, but in some broad areas they express much agreement.

Running for two seats on the board of commissioners are Republican incumbents Steve Carter, who serves as the board’s vice chairman, and Craig Turner, who was appointed last year to finish the term of then-chairman Amy Galey, who was elected to the state senate in 2020; the sole Democrat on the ballot trying to break onto the all-Republican board is Anthony Pierce.

Read biographical information on the three candidates here:

All three candidates agree on some aspects of county policy, including spending and taxing.

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All agree that the present tax rate, 65 cents per $100 valuation, is “about right.”

They also agree that funding for the sheriff’s department is “about right.”  However, Carter and Turner add that future increases may be necessary – Carter pointing to the county’s potential growth and Turner to the need to retain and recruit employees.

Each says he agrees that after revaluation, which is scheduled to take place next year, the property tax rate would be “revenue neutral” compared the pre-revaluation level, to accommodate for the expected increase in property values. Carter adds the caveat, “Currently not sure that will happen; keeping an open mind.”

All three also believe that another bond referendum – similar to one voters approved in 2018 for $150 million, most of which was for high school renovations and expansions, as well as the construction of a seventh high school – will not be needed for repairs and/or expansions at other grade levels.

They begin to diverge on future spending priorities and their willingness to raise property taxes to achieve some of those priorities.

Pierce lists “Partnering with ABSS to fund retention strategy and incentives for educators to continue in ABSS” as a future priority, and acknowledges that he would be willing to raise taxes, if necessary, to fund it. He also lists priorities of establishing a diversion center and providing additional pay for county employees, but does not include those objectives among those for which he’s willing to support a property tax increase.

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Carter and Turner list other priorities – both include public safety, with Carter adding a diversion center and additional court space, Turner saying, “ensuring county government is staffed adequately to manage growth” and raising the local supplement for ABSS teachers.

But neither says he would raise property taxes to achieve those objectives.  Turner is direct, “I do not support raising property taxes,” he says.  Carter qualifies his answer somewhat, “I don’t think we’ll need to raise the tax rate,” he says.

Carter and Turner support the county’s current contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and the U.S. Marshals service that provide revenue by renting available jail space to the two federal agencies.

Pierce says he opposes both contracts.

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Among the areas where the candidates diverge are additional paid days off for county employees.

Candidates were asked whether they would support any of the following as additional paid holidays for Alamance County workers: Washington’s Birthday/Presidents’ Day; Juneteenth; or Columbus Day.

Carter and Turner oppose additional paid holidays.  Pierce would give Juneteenth.  “Adding Juneteeth as a holiday,” Pierce says, “is consistent to what has been done across the county, state, and nationally. We should be consistent as well.”

They also differed on whether Alamance County needs to adopt an ordinance that some North Carolina counties have adopted over the past year or so that seek to ban discrimination within their jurisdictions based on sexual orientation (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people) in public accommodations and employment.

Carter and Turner say the county does not need such an ordinance, and both would vote against it.  Pierce says the county does need an ordinance and that he would vote for it.

Candidates were also asked about their inclinations to move the Confederate monument on the north side of the Historic Court House in downtown Graham.  Both Carter and Turner say they are opposed.

Turner points to the state statute that a superior court judge recently cited in turning down an NAACP lawsuit against the statue. “State law prohibits counties from relocating county-owned objects of remembrance unless an object’s unsafe condition poses a danger to public safety,” Turner says.

Carter adds, “The monument represents the 200+ war dead, ancestors of many of our citizens, that’s all.”

Pierce did not respond to the question.

The full questionnaire and the candidates’ full responses are printed in this edition, beginning on page 8, HERE.  Candidates were given specific word limits on individual questions – 15 words for elaboration on most questions, 25 words of some others, and 50 words for a few.

Candidate responses were edited, in some cases heavily, in order to comply with the newspaper’s space and word limitations.

Candidates were also asked to provide biographical information.  Their backgrounds, as provided, are printed on page 9, which can be found here:

In future weeks, the newspaper plans to run candidate responses for other competitive local races: the non-partisan Alamance-Burlington board of education; the two seats (districts 63 and 64) in the state house; the state senate seat; and the sheriff’s race. The newspaper will also run a full sample ballot in one or more future editions.

Early voting is scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 20; Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

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