October 25, 2012
Guilford County government has been under Democratic rule for all but two of the last 20 years, and it's in shambles. The tax rate keeps going up, the county is over $1 billion in debt, the city manager has been investigated by both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, and long time agreements with other jurisdictions have been trampled by a Board of Commissioners that appears to have no regard for anyone.
One example is an agreement between Guilford County and the City of Greensboro on library funding. Guilford County simply refused to pay the amount that was agreed to, and the excuse was that there was no written contract. The message to Greensboro was that Greensboro could no longer trust anything the Board of Commissioners said unless it was detailed in a lengthy, legally binding contract. Some people believe that keeping their word is important, but not the Guilford County Board of Commissioners led by Chairman Skip Alston.
Fortunately the voters of Guilford County have a chance to do something about the mess that the Democrats have made, and that is by electing three Republicans and one Democrate who are newcomers to county politics and cannot be blamed for the current state of Guilford County government.
That is why we are endorsing Republican Jerry Alan Branson in District 4, Republican Jeff Phillips in District 5, Republican Hank Henning in District 6 and Democrat Ray Trapp for District 8.
Jerry Alan Branson is running against Democratic District 4 County Commissioner Kirk Perkins, who has been in office since 2004. Perkins tries to sound like a conservative when he runs for reelection because he knows how conservative the district is, but if you check his voting record, when Chairman Alston has needed a vote during the past eight years Perkins has provided it.
Perkins made an extremely political motion to fire County Manager Brenda Jones Fox, but it appears it was all for show. If Perkins had been serious he would have made sure he had a second for his motion. As it was the motion came out of the blue and, before anyone could second the motion, Alston gaveled the matter closed and the motion failed for lack of a second. So there was absolutely no discussion of it.
Perkins should have known that all he had to do was mention that he was going to make that motion to one of several fellow commissioners who had been railing against Fox for months and he would have had a second. After the motion failed for lack of a second, Perkins has never made the motion again. Why is that, if he was serious?
The damage that Fox has done to Guilford County will take years to repair, yet, other than that one motion, Perkins has sat up there and gone along with her ploys year after year. Before Fox, Greensboro and Guilford County had a good working relationship and cooperated in ways that saved the taxpayers money.
Perkins lists as an accomplishment buying Hagan-Stone Park from Greensboro. The only thing gained by Guilford County in buying the park is that now Guilford County pays Greensboro to run the park, and when Greensboro owned the park, Greensboro paid to run it. It didn't get a lot of attention but even the Greensboro city councilmembers couldn't believe that the county commissioners would be dumb enough to buy the park. But they did and now the county rather than the city pays the bill. Perkins lists it as an accomplishment.
Branson has run a good campaign and has made huge progress as a public speaker during the campaign. He has also managed to let voters know where he and Perkins differ on the issues. It's not easy because Perkins talks conservative but votes with Alston.
But Branson talks about saving money by standardizing school construction, a method that is used in many other areas of the country. Perkins claims he doesn't know what that means.
Branson says we are going to have trouble creating jobs with one of the highest tax rates in the piedmont triad and will work to lower tax rates. Perkins is one of the causes of that tax rate being so high.
Branson runs a family-owned trucking business that he said has 42 employees, so he knows what small businesses are going through in this economy. He also knows that the people of Guilford County don't need higher taxes.
Both Branson and Perkins agree that the county has not funded school building maintenance as well as it should be, but Perkins is the one responsible for funding. If the schools aren't getting enough it is the fault of the Democratically controlled Board of Guilford Commissioners, and Perkins is the vice chair.
Perkins out on the campaign trial is evidently trying to style himself as the Vice President Joe Biden of Guilford County. Two of the statements he makes are, "Everybody's kid out there is somebody's kid," and, "What's good for everybody is good for everybody."
Branson is being supported by Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow, Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes and Sixth District Congressman Howard Coble.
Democratic District 5 candidate and At-large County Commissioner Paul Gibson is easy to get along with. He has been elected three times to the Board of Commissioners at large and it's simple to see why. Just about everybody that knows Gibson likes him, and everybody in Guilford County seems to know him. A lot of folks remember his father, Sheriff Paul Gibson. So Commissioner Paul Gibson has two generations of name recognition working for him.
If you ever see an open seat next to Gibson at what you expect to be a long boring meeting, take it, because you will be entertained. Gibson is funny and he cares about people.
But Gibson doesn't think you pay enough taxes. He believes the problems of Guilford County can be solved by taxing people more and having the county government spend more money. He talks about how he doesn't want to raise property taxes, but in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 he voted for Guilford County budgets that included property tax increases. In 2009 and 2010 the budgets didn't have tax increases and Gibson voted against those budgets. Now he wants to raise the sales tax because he thinks county government needs more money.
Jeff Phillips says he believes that the county needs to spend the money it has more efficiently.
Phillips is in favor of "limited government." Gibson says that he doesn't know what that means.
Gibson says that the schools need more money for maintenance. He has been on the Board of Commissioners for the past eight years; if he believes that then he should have voted for more money for school maintenance. But the idea that the schools need more money for maintenance is absurd. The schools have several hundred million dollars in bond money that can be spent on big maintenance projects like replacing roofs and putting in new heating and air-conditioning systems, but according to the school board the schools never have enough money.
Gibson says that people have "a God given right to good health care." Phillips says he believes that those who can afford to pay something should pay something for their health care, and that the eligibility requirements for free health care should be looked at carefully....continued on page 2