District 2 Contest Pits Fiorillo, Picerno
Two newcomers to the elective office scene are vying for a county commissioner's seat being vacated this year by a veteran public servant.
Nancy Roy Fiorillo and Nick Picerno are candidates for the District 2 seat on the Moore County Board of Commis-sioners now held by retiring Board Chairman Colin McKenzie. The opponents will face off in the May 6 Republican primary election.
Fiorillo, 58, is a former planning director for Moore County. Now retired, she remains active in the planning arena, chairing the county Planning Board and serving on the Small Area A Plan Steering Committee.
Picerno, 52, is a semi-retired businessman who founded Southern Software, a computer programming company based in Southern Pines. Although officially retired from the company, he continues to serve as chairman of the board but has no say in day-to-day operations there.
Both candidates support education, economic development, planning and countywide water improvements. Both cite their background and experience as significant qualifications for service on the Board of Commissioners.
Picerno says his experience in founding and running a successful small business is an asset he would take into the position.
Fiorillo says her experience in planning and community service would give her special insight into the most pressing needs facing the county, such as water and quality growth issues.
As for Moore County Partners in Progress, Fiorillo says the nonprofit is "exactly on the right track" when it comes to economic development. She thinks the program should be supported by the county and should be aggressive in these efforts.
"We do need economic development," Fiorillo says. "What we need to do is attract industries that fit the needs of each community. Large industry would be welcome in some parts of the county but won't work in other areas."
Picerno says he has worked with Partners in Progress since it was formed and continues to support its work. He questions recent talk about moratoriums on building and growth and says such talk is giving Moore County an anti-business reputation.
"The best stimulus (for economic development) is keeping money in people's pockets," he says. "Every time you raise the tax rate one penny, it hurts somebody."
Picerno believes the water issue will determine the direction of growth.
"We don't want to discourage quality growth," Picerno says. "The last thing we need is a moratorium. The economy itself is putting a moratorium on growth."
He adds that new business will not be attracted to a community without an adequate supply of water.
Fiorillo sees promising ideas in the McGill study, a recently released report covering water availability in Moore County and including extensive recommendations for handling the water situation. A fresh spirit of cooperation has developed among local governments in recent years, and she says that the county should strengthen its ties with Southern Pines, Aberdeen and other local governments with their own water systems.
In the McGill study, she likes the idea of preserving the excellent water source in Drowning Creek and the recommendation to activate the water plant and reservoir in Robbins to extend lines to Seven Lakes as well as Robbins. Fiorillo is confident that the county can work out issues relating to inter-basin transfer regulations that control the transfer of water from one basin to another. Parts of Moore County lie within three basins.
Fiorillo also sees growth and water as related issues and suggests that it may be time to revisit the county land-use plan, adopted in 1999 while she was planning director. She says primary and secondary growth areas should be identified and growth should be directed into areas where water is available. Fiorillo calls the Moore County Summit "a good engine" to work on these issues.
Picerno says he supported the bond issue on the November ballot and is pleased that fellow voters agreed that the school improvements are needed. He also agrees that the new county building projects are serious needs.
"We got so far behind on education and on water that now we're having to react to those needs. We need to be pro-active," Picerno says. He thinks the commissioners must do a better job of informing the public about taxes, financial needs and the need for new buildings.
His concern is the cost of these projects, and he says his primary motivation in running for office is concern for the taxpayer.
"All these things cost a lot of dollars. That got me interested in looking at finances," he says, remembering that a few years ago the county had a healthy fund balance. Now he wonders about the county's financial health.
With property revaluation last year, Picerno says his taxes climbed 30 percent.
Fiorillo also supports the school bonds and says the commissioners will face difficult decisions on financing school and county building needs. She notes that taxpayers, at the same time they approved the school and college bonds, turned down a proposed land transfer tax to help offset a property tax increase. Now she says taxpayers must decide if they want an additional sales tax as an alternative.
"I don't believe we have another revenue source other than the property tax. It will be a difficult decision," she says.
At a recent candidates' forum, Picerno said he would not vote for the sales tax option on the May 6 ballot. Fiorillo and the two candidates for the other seat on the Board of Commissioners all said they would vote in favor of the sales tax.
Asked to define their view of county administration, Fiorillo and Picerno made it clear that a commissioner should set direction and policy and leave management to the professionals.
"The employees should work for the manager. The manager works for the commissioners," says Fiorillo.
Picerno says the county needs to hire the best people to run the county.
"I may not be the smartest guy on the block, but I know how to hire the best people to run a business," he adds.
Picerno says his association with Commissioner Larry Caddell presents no conflict and that Caddell had nothing to do with his decision to run for office. In fact, he says Caddell was surprised that he had filed. Caddell continues to work at Southern Software, but Picerno is no longer a part of daily management.
Although she was born in Massachusetts, Fiorillo has lived in the South more than 30 years, most of that time in North Carolina. Her home has been Moore County since the early 1990s.
Fiorillo served as Moore County planning director from 1997 until 2002, when she resigned to become planning and inspections director for Cumberland County. She retired in 2005 and continues to make her home in Pinehurst with her husband, Ray Fiorillo.
Prior to accepting the Moore County position, Fiorillo worked nine years as community planner for the N.C. Department of Commerce, a job that spanned an 11-county region, including Moore. Earlier she worked with Mid-Carolina Council of Governments. Fiorillo also has experience in social work, including the Guardian ad Litem program.
She is a graduate of Austin Peay University in Clarksville, Tenn., then earned a Master's degree in public administration from North Carolina State University. She served three years as adjunct professor at Methodist University in Fayetteville, where she taught public administration, state and local government.
The mother of two adult children, she is a member of the Pinehurst Civic Group Board of Directors and works with her husband in operation of a small business.
Founded Southern Software
Picerno was born and grew up in Moore County and is a 1974 graduate of Union Pines High School. He is a 1978 graduate of the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in science education. After graduation, he taught school one year, then worked in business with Archie Kelly for a few years before going into business on his own.
This was a time when computer technology was just getting started, and Picerno says he realized he had a special talent in this new field. He taught a few classes at Sandhills Community College, an experience that led to formation of what evolved into Southern Software, founded in 1988.
Picerno and his wife, Jan, have three children and live in McLendon Hills, near Seven Lakes. Two of their children are married, and the third attends Campbell University. There are three grandchildren.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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