David Frump for Hoke County Commissioner
Why do you wish to serve in public office?
As a retired Navy Officer, congressional lobbyist, and business man I have had many opportunities to demonstrate leadership in many varying ways. I have always been successful in listening to ideas, building a consensus, making correct and acceptable decisions and executing plans in a manner that best suits the people and the project.
I see the current Hoke County Commissioners as detached from their constituency, unaware of the real needs of the county, unwilling to share the decision-making process with taxpayers (open government), promoting their own self interests over that of the county residents and unable to guide the county in use of latest technologies.
It is clear the majority of area realtors are dissatisfied with Hoke County’s ability to process deed transfers in a timely manner and matters such as orphan roads and abandoned dilapidated buildings which leave a poor picture in the eyes of families and potential businesses.
I want to be a commissioner so that I can help eradicate the deficiencies that hold Hoke County back from realizing its full potential as a progressive county where citizens are proud to live. I can do this.
What are the top three challenges facing your county and how do you propose to address them through your office?
Education is the single most important challenge we have in Hoke County. The poor school system drives families from residing in the county where discipline and unsatisfactory learning render poor performing students for all but the most dedicated and family directed children. The schools are overcrowded and the turnover rate of teachers is beyond imagination. The facilities are aging and little effort is made by county government to improve the situation by long term planning. Their idea is to make the schools bigger. Bigger is usually not better in education. We need to consider smaller schools where hands on education creates students who are more prepared to join the work force. In addition, we need to bring back trade related education. Not all students prefer to be college bound. There is a great need for people who know how to do things. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, HVAC experts are not going out of style. These professions are in dire need of new skilled workers. Often those in these jobs earn far more than those with a four year college degree. Robotics workers and information systems people are in high demand. We need to educate our young to fill specific needs once they have mastered the basics in education.
Meaningful jobs that pay well enough to support a family are essential to the growth and progress of Hoke county. Bringing in industry and big businesses can provide needed jobs that will beget more meaningful businesses and jobs. We should approach providing these jobs with pools of technically educated workers coupled with incentive programs provided by the county, i.e. tax and land incentives. Enhancing an already good program with the community college will help us zero in on programs that provide workers ready to take on the challenges of 21st century manufacturing. This will go along way in cleaning up drug and crime problems in the community.
Cleaning up the county of unsightly derelict buildings is an important step in progress in Hoke county. The county has no ordinance or no desire to force the clean- up of eyesores throughout the county that paints Hoke as a third world country. Abandoned or burned out buildings litter the county with disincentives for industry or home builders to settle in Hoke. When the county planner is asked to assist in removal, he replies nothing can be done. Something can be done and should be done. What business wants to build next to a burned-out building? What homeowner wants to live near a falling down home which has been abandoned for years? Solutions to the problems are simple but the current commissioners do not even recognize the problem let alone take action.
What are your thoughts on solving the Orphaned Roads problem?
Orphaned Roads are results of poor county government oversight and planning. I have been approached by many home owners who suffer from this problem. They were naive when they bought their home not thinking about road maintenance but noticing the lower cost of the home. Many were first time or low-income buyers and unsuspecting. Government exists to protect these people. The first step in solving the problem is to not allow any more roads like this, say one home or so to a driveway with stipulations in the deed who maintains the drive. Those who sell land, the “backwater developers”, should be stopped and specific permit requirements established to prohibit orphaned roads. It is testimony to the failed policies and poor vision of past commissioners that these roads exist. We must establish standards that protect the potential home owner. To correct past deficiencies, we must petition our state legislators to develop a program by which current orphaned roads can be taken into the state-wide road system with current owners sharing in some way the financial transition requirements. My past lobbying experience will help this effort.
What new Ideas or incentives can you suggest to attract business into the area?
As I mentioned earlier, a sound educational program tailored to the needs of industry is vitally important to attract business. We should identify business talent requirements and cooperate with the community college system to see that these needs are fulfilled.
Also, I will ensure as a commissioner that recruitment for the county development director is advertised broadly to ensure the best person is found to fit the job. In Hoke county that job was not advertised before being recently awarded to the son of a sitting county commissioner.
A county representative at national level job fairs would reveal what jobs are in demand and we can tailor our training to that demand. Tax and land incentives are always popular while recruiting job providing companies. We should not forget that 80% of job growth in counties is a result of expanding existing companies. We need to help those companies expand by listening and acting on their needs.
What steps would you take to improve your county’s property valuation process in the years ahead? Why do you think these steps are necessary?
Accurate property valuations are extremely important to both the home owners and the county. Home owners/buyers deserve fairness, whether they already own their home or are selecting one. County officials rely on accurate valuations to formulate and project budgets. Currently Hoke valuations seem quite arbitrary as evidenced by the number of successful appeals to property tax valuations. While I am not an expert on how to overhaul the system, I am smart enough to call in those who are familiar with the proper way to value property for tax purposes. My suspicion is that the county commissioners’ common practice of hiring by patronage is responsible for poor performance in property valuations.
Hoke County will be reevaluating property values in the near term as required by law and I’m sure the county budgeting section will be shocked. Past overvaluations will be evident and county revenues will be hard hit potentially throwing the county into a financial bind.