Sloan Files to Challenge Lea
Tim Lea answered a burning question Wednesday morning when he filed for re-election to the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
A Republican, Lea is seeking his second four-year term on the board. He will face opposition in a May GOP primary, though not the candidate some had been expecting.
Tim Sloan, a Southern Pines businessman and political novice, filed for the District 4 seat Thursday. A day earlier, GOP stalwart George W. Little, of Southern Pines, made it official that he would not seek the seat.
Little, who made an unsuccessful bid for governor four years ago, cited his upcoming marriage and business concerns as his reasons for not seeking the nomination. He said the timing is not convenient or suitable at this time. However, he offered support for Sloan's campaign.
Lea was accompanied by his wife, Laine, and four of the five members of his campaign team, Katherine Ewing, former Sheriff James Wise, Dick Westcott and Carolyn Mealing. The fifth, Dr. Ward Oakley, was unable to attend.
Also joining him were former County Commissioners Mal Owings and Archie Kelly, along with Whispering Pines Mayor Bob Zschoche, Jim Dixon, who has served as Recreation Board chair, and former Recreation Director Bill Scott.
"I have learned a great deal during my first three years on the Board of County Commissioners and would like to have the opportunity to continue to work on those projects already begun, as well as on those critical issues currently facing our county -- determining the best way to fund the capital building projects for the schools, ensuring that Moore County always has an adequate water supply, and encouraging economic development that will bring good jobs to our county," Lea said in a statement released later in the day.
Lea said that Ewing, Wise and Oakley would co-chair his campaign. Westcott, a former member of the Pinehurst Village Council, would serve as treasurer, and Mealing would again serve as campaign manager. Ewing's husband, the late Robert Ewing, served a number of years on the Board of Commissioners.
The 56-year-old Lea is a Carthage area businessman and is the founder, chairman and CEO of Healthcare Systems Consulting Inc. He has been active in civic affairs in Moore County for more than 14 years and has served on numerous boards and committees related to public education and planning.
A former chairman of the Moore County Planning Board, he headed the Land-Use Planning Committee in the 1990s and is a former member of the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees.
Katherine Ewing said she has known and respected Lea for many years. She recalled that her husband, when deciding whether to run for another term as county commissioner, had commented that he would step down if Lea could be persuaded to run for the District 4 seat on the board. She quoted her late husband as saying that Lea "has the qualifications and dedication to make an impact on Moore County."
"I have found this to be true," Ewing said. "His integrity and knowledge of how things should be run, and his bravery have put him in good stead," she said. "Tim is committed to doing the right thing for the right reasons, often in the face of much opposition. We are fortunate to have such a friend in county government."
Wise called Lea "a man of his word" and said he "has done an excellent job while in office."
'Supports Growth, Progress'
Oakley said he has known Lea more than 20 years and considers him to be a good friend.
"I have come to appreciate in Tim a person who lives an unblemished principled life, a person who has a deep abiding love for his family, his home, his church family, the people of his native Moore County, and his country," Oakley said. "Equally important to the people of Moore County is that Tim Lea speaks, lives and acts with fiscal prudence. His record of the last three years on the Moore County Board of Commissioners clearly reveals that he is committed to a financially responsible board with a true fiduciary obligation to the people of Moore County.
"Tim supports growth and progress in Moore County but not at an irresponsible cost, waste of money or loss of what we the people hold to be dear and of community value."
Westcott, who has known Lea almost 17 years, served on public school committees chaired by Lea and on The Public Education Foundation Board, of which he was president.
"Without exception, he brings energy, ideas, objectivity and above all, integrity to every task," Westcott said.
Mealing, a former co-president of the League of Women Voters, said she has worked with Lea on several community activities over a span of eight years.
"Tim has consistently demonstrated the leadership qualities that I feel are important to public office," Mealing said. "He is a man of integrity, is goal-oriented, forward-thinking and believes strongly in planning for Moore County's future."
District 4 is one of two seats on the five-member Board of Commissioners to be filled by voters this year. Two Republican candidates, Nancy Roy Fiorillo and Nick Picerno, have emerged for the other seat, District 2, currently held by Colin McKenzie, who is not seeking re-election.
'Helping the Community'
The 41-year old Sloan is owner of Direct Mail Solutions in Southern Pines and is co-owner with his wife, Emily, of W.O.W. Pets in Aberdeen's Town and Country Shopping Center.
"I own two businesses here and understand what it takes to run a business," Sloan said Thursday morning shortly before he paid his filing fee at the Board of Elections office in Carthage. "I think my know-how can be helpful to the county. I've always been interested in helping the community."
Sloan was joined by Little and McKenzie, the current chairman of the Board of Commissioners, and Bob Hunt, his campaign treasurer, when he filed.
Sloan said he knows Commissioner Larry Caddell personally and has discussed county needs and issues with him.
"I think I have something I can bring to the table," he said.
Sloan said one of his principal concerns is the need for the county to do business with local companies.
"I am real big on doing business in Moore County whenever possible," he said. That's something Moore County should look at closely. If it can be purchased here in the county, that's what we ought to do. If there is a big cost difference, then I can see going out of county in that case."
Sloan cited the county's consideration of group insurance for county employees as an example of the need to buy at home.
Although he said he has no inside information about the insurance industry, Sloan added "it seems ridiculous to pay an outside party to find insurance when we have good options here at home." He said that he is "curious to know why" the county has to go elsewhere to find good insurance programs.
"I'm big on Moore County. I moved here 12 years ago and fell in love with the county," he said.
Sloan said this is his first try at seeking public office.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., he grew up in Nashville but came to North Carolina to attend his father's alma mater, High Point College. After graduation, he moved back to Tennessee.
His parents retired to Pinehurst several years ago. Sloan said he became familiar with the area through his parents, and when his father decided he was too young to retire, he gladly accepted his invitation to move to Moore County and start a business with his father. In 1998 he bought out that business.
Tim and Emily Sloan live in Southern Pines with their daughters, Gabrielle, 12, and Kaitlyn, 10. Emily Sloan grew up in Mississippi but met her future husband in Tennessee. His parents, Jim and Deborah Sloan, still live in Pinehurst.
Their daughters attend Sandhills Classical Christian School at Sandhills PCA Church, where the Sloans are members.
Asked if the fact that his children attend private school would affect his attitude toward financing public education, Sloan said that he is a strong supporter of public schools.
"Education is the single most important thing we need to do to make sure our community remains strong and is able to take care of me in my old age," he said.
He added that parental involvement in children's education is vitally important to their success in school.
Florence Gilkeson can be reached at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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