In District 4, It's Two Opposing Tims
Moore County voters will have a choice between two Tims when they go to the polls on May 6.
Incumbent Tim Lea and newcomer Tim Sloan are candidates for the District 4 seat on the Moore County Board of Commissioners. They are subject to the Republican primary election.
Sloan, who is making his first try at public elective office, describes himself as "a huge proponent of small business" committed to good education and good planning.
Lea says he has learned much in his first term on the board and wants an opportunity to help guide the county toward solutions on the key issues of education, water and economic development.
Cooperation between the county and other local governments is the best way to work out the community's water problems, according to Sloan. He sees the Moore County Summit as the best way to approach the water issue from a cooperative standpoint.
"Working together is the only way to succeed," Sloan says.
Pointing to the recently released water study conducted by the McGill engineering firm, Lea says the county needs to work toward reactivation of the water system and reservoir owned by the town of Robbins. This would enable the county to install water lines to Seven Lakes and to buy water from Montgomery County to meet the needs of the western and northern parts of the county.
Lea wants the county to continue buying water from Harnett County but not to become completely dependent upon Harnett as a major source. He sees the possibility of running a water line from Deep River to Robbins and for providing water lines to Foxfire Village, which has some problems with radium levels.
"We need to keep all options open," Lea says.
Both candidates agree with the voters in their commitment to capital improvements in the public schools and at the college.
Sloan says the county needs more schools and improvements to water and sewer systems.
"The only way to do that is through careful management of our money," Sloan says.
Sloan says School Superintendent Susan Purser is doing "an excellent job" with the schools. He credits her methodical planning as a major reason for the November bond referendum success.
Both Are Businessmen
Sloan, 41, is the owner of Direct Mail Solutions in Southern Pines and co-owner with his wife, Emily, of W.O.W. Pets in Aberdeen. He was born and grew up in Nashville, Tenn., but graduated from High Point College in North Carolina, his father's alma mater. He first became acquainted with Moore County when his parents retired and moved to Pinehurst. Sloan later joined his parents and went into business in the Sandhills.
The Sloans live in Southern Pines with daughters Gabrielle, 12, and Kaitlyn, 10.
Lea is a Moore County native who attended Sandhills Community College and East Carolina University and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Healthcare Systems Consulting Inc. He is a former chairman of the Moore County Planning Board and a former trustee of SCC.
The 56-year-old businessman lives on the family farm in Eastwood with his wife, Laine. Their son, Blake, a 2005 graduate of N.C. State University, is employed by McKesson Corporation in Atlanta, and daughter, Brittany, a 2006 NCSU graduate, works for the A&E Television Network in New York.
'Bursting at Seams'
Lea says the county has fallen behind on meeting its own capital needs as well as those of the schools. He says the county's building needs are critical, including jail replacement or enlargement to meet state law.
"This county has not built a new building since 1988," Lea says. "We're in a situation where we're bursting at the seams."
Lea says taxpayers face much more than merely paying off interest on the $69.5 million in bonds approved for the schools and the college. He says everyone must also consider the additional cost of operating these facilities when they are completed. He predicts that a seven-cent property tax rate increase will be required.
Sloan is reluctant to raise the tax rate and is anxious to learn the findings of a new county committee appointed to study local government efficiency.
"We'll have to take a long hard look at our finances," Sloan says. "Every department must look at the budget and find places to cut."
At a recent candidates' forum, both Lea and Sloan said they would vote in favor of an additional sales tax, an issue on the May 6 ballot. Revenue from the tax would be used to reduce the size of the property tax increase.
They also agree that careful planning is needed when it comes to growth.
"I don't believe in moratoriums. I don't think they help communities," Sloan says. "We definitely need a master plan for the entire county."
Sloan admits that he was "blown away" by the negative reaction to a proposed planned unit development (PUD) project in Southern Pines. He says the plan advanced on behalf of a well-known and highly respected family should be preferred to industry, an application that would be available under the present zoning of the same property.
"Planned growth, with curbs on tax increases, is the only way to succeed in Moore County," says Sloan. He says Moore County should be a good place for economic development that provides more white-collar jobs.
Lea likes the small area planning approach recently initiated by the county. He chaired the countywide land-use plan steering committee that developed the county's first such plan, the one adopted in 1999. He likes the work done by the Small Area A Steering Committee, which recently completed its plan.
"I'm not against growth," Lea says. "I favor controlled growth."
Lea fears that many people have taken the Area A proposal out of context and do not understand that it would apply only to that one section of the county. He praises the Area A committee for "an excellent job." All that's needed now, he says, is a little fine-tuning for about 10 percent of the plan.
"It's just an update of the land-use plan we adopted in 1999," Lea says. "All we're trying to do is make sure we're sensitive to the needs of particular issues in certain areas."
Sloan calls it something of an accident that he decided to run for the Board of Commissioners. At one time he was considering a run for Board of Education.
"I felt strongly that someone needed to run against Tim Lea," he says.
Asked why, Sloan expresses concern that county operations are being micromanaged and says his experience in running a small business gives him the skills to correct this problem.
"I understand the job of the county commissioners is that of budgeting, planning, big picture stuff, not to tell the administration how to run things day to day," Sloan says.
Lea admits that he has a strained relationship with three of the other four commissioners. He recalls supporting Cindy Morgan, Larry Caddell and Jimmy Melton when they ran for the board two years ago. In an unofficial caucus held before the three were sworn into office, the three agreed to alternate the chairmanship, with veteran Commissioner Colin McKenzie to serve as chairman in the first year and Lea to succeed him this year.
However, when it came time to elect new officers last year, Morgan was the only one to support Lea for chairman. Lea says he does not know why the others did not follow through on that commitment.
"It's not a question of who is chairman," Lea says. "It is a question of trust."
Although the commissioners agree on most issues, Lea has dissented on such key issues as the purchase of land for new county buildings and the release of $243,000-plus in retained airport funds.
Lea says he never opposed the purchase of the 21-acre tract in downtown Carthage, where the county plans to expand the jail and erect two new government buildings. What he opposed was the $1.5 million price tag. He says the property was purchased at about twice its appraised value and that other suitable land was available in Moore County at a far more reasonable price.
"You have to make decisions, not on emotion, but in the interest of the taxpayers," Lea says.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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