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Phillips' statement on his website concluded: "If we bribe them with benefits, they will come, but then what will Paul Gibson do with them once here?"
Gibson said illegal immigrants are here in Guilford County and it does no good to pretend that's not the case.
"What are we suppose to do, throw these people in the bushes?" Gibson said. "I believe we have a moral obligation for example to treat undocumented children in our dental clinic as well as our children's health clinic. Our schools should educate all children just like they are currently doing."
"The Bible says the poor will be with us always," Gibson said, and he added that it was our job to help those poor even if we can't eliminate poverty.
Gibson said there are some cuts that can be made in county government but too often those cuts are made in badly needed social services.
"We built a $100 million jail and I'm not going to take that out on DSS [Department of Social Services]," Gibson said this week.
Gibson said sometimes that means paying more in taxes.
"I don't like taxes anymore than anyone else," Gibson said. "I have to pay them too."
After Gibson was elected to the board in 2004, he voted – usually along with the Democratic majority of the board – for property tax increases in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the budgets didn't have a tax increase. Gibson voted against those two budgets.
In 2011, when there was another tax increase, Gibson voted for the budget, and, in June of this year Gibson and the rest of the board voted for a slight decrease in the property tax rates, though that situation is complicated by the countywide revaluation. Gibson has, for years, been a strong advocate of increasing the sales tax in Guilford County.
One race that many observers say is too close to call is Branson versus Perkins in District 4. On the one hand, Perkins is the incumbent with a lot of name recognition; on the other, Branson has some high-profile conservative supporters, including Commissioner Billy Yow, who's extremely popular in many parts of the newly drawn and largely rural district.
Also, Perkins has a lot of new districts to worry about that he's never run in before, and he has voted for a lot of property tax increases over the years.
At the League of Women Voters' forum, Perkins said those tax increase were necessary largely because, in May 2008, voters approved the hundreds of millions in school, jail and other bonds. He said that both inmates and school children need adequate facilities.
"I try to remember that everyone's child is someone's kid," he said at the forum, adding that that's true of people whether that person is a student in the county's schools or an inmate in the county's jails.
Perkins spent much of his life as a prison guard and prison supervisor before going into real estate.
Branson had some criticism of the current board. He was critical of a plan to move ahead quickly with renovating the old jail and using it to hold federal inmates.
"There's a lot of unknowns out there," Branson said of the plan. "How many federal prisoners will the state bring? That question still hasn't been answered."
On this issue, Branson and Perkins seem to have a lot of agreement. Perkins wrote in an email this week, when asked about the county holding federal inmates, that he needs more information on cost versus revenue.
"I don't feel that enough research has been done by staff at this point," Perkins said. "I think it could be a net cost to Guilford County to house federal inmates. Maybe we could lease the old jail to the US marshals office and let them house inmates as needed. That way we would not get caught in a negative expense situation as well as avoiding other issues concerning additional inmates."
On a different topic, Branson said he would focus on creating jobs in Guilford County – something he said he doesn't feel Perkins has done much to promote.
The Sept. 18 candidate forum was unusual in that the candidates were asked quite a bit about issues over which the commissioners have little direct say – such as immigration policy or the county schools' practices.
The Board of Commissioners does hold the purse strings for the schools. The board decides how much county money the schools get in the county budget each year, and Board of Commissioners also has the ultimate say in whether a school bond is placed on the ballot or not.
Branson said at the forum that someone needs to get a tighter handle on school spending. He said the school system could, for instance, when building new schools, use more "standard architectural design" – rather than treating every new school as a highly innovative project that requires expensive architectural design.
"To go green is fine and well," he said, but he added that the county needs to "weigh our options" and look more closely at costs.
Since Henning wasn't at the forum, Kellerman was able to say anything she wanted without having to worry about being challenged by her opponent, though she did not have that much to say about the issues.
Kellerman has had a strange trip to say the least to get where she is now politically.
On the afternoon of the last day of filing earlier this year, a Democratic organizer asked her to file to run in the District 6 race since no other Democrat had filed to run for the seat. But that same afternoon, unbeknownst to Kellerman, Dan Miller, a college professor, also filed to run.
Kellerman then withdrew from the race, and began campaigning for Miller, but Kellerman, whose name remained on the ballot, won anyway. It's widely believed that Kellerman won because county voters vote for women over men whenever they know very little about either of the candidates.
After winning the primary, she decided to commit fully to a campaign and she said that she's spent a lot of time studying the issues. However, at the forum, some of her answers seemed to indicate a lack of certainty about what a county commissioner does and doesn't do.
She said at the Sept. 18 forum that she has volunteered at schools and that she wants to keep technology in the county's schools current.
Kellerman, who still seems to be largely a candidate in search of a coherent message, stressed at the forum that she believed the county should supply the "basic health needs" of county residents.
Recently, Kellerman, on her Facebook site, went after Henning for signing a no-tax-hike pledge.
After he signed the pledge and announced it, the following appeared on Kellerman's campaign Facebook page: "My opponent, Hank Henning has tied our hands. By signing this NO TAX pledge, he has eliminated some of the options we may need to consider to solve Guilford County's Massive Debt. TELL HANK, DON'T TIE OUR HANDS! Vote for Linda Kellerman!"
This week Henning said he thought it was interesting that Kellerman was attacking him for signing a pledge not to raise taxes.
"I don't think it's irresponsible to do what voters want," Henning said....continued on page 3