Caddell: Public Service Is Way to Give Back
For most of his adult life, Larry Caddell has been in the payback mode for the late Frank Bowen.
As Scoutmaster of his childhood Boy Scout troop, Bowen was his mentor and coach for life outside the home.
“Mr. Bowen told me that to be totally successful in life, you must be a giver,” Caddell says. “He said, ‘I want you to pay me back. I don’t care what form it takes.’ I’ve been paying him back all these years.”
Bowen later gave Caddell his Scoutmaster’s jacket, something that he treasured until it was lost when fire destroyed the Caddell home in Carthage earlier this year.
That payback covers 17 years on the Carthage Town Board, including 13 as mayor and four as mayor pro tem, and four years on the Moore County Board of Commissioners. That service is in addition to work as an active member of Grace Church in Southern Pines, along with miscellaneous service to the community at large.
Caddell, 64, has chaired the county’s recreation board and served three terms as president of the Union Pines Booster Club, five years as assistant chief of the Carthage Fire Department, and four years on the Public Education Foundation of Moore County Inc. board of trustees. He was among the founders of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Moore County Chamber.
As a Boy Scout, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and received the God and Country Award.
Have the derogatory comments hurt? Yes, but Caddell is undeterred.
“I’ve been told that politics is a contact sport. If you can’t stand the sight of blood, don’t get involved in politics,” he says.
Then he quotes a Bible passage advising that no weapon is effective against people who follow their beliefs and do the right thing.
“You can prosper when you’re living in God’s will,” he says. “And I’m not going to let anyone run me away from doing what I know is right.”
Caddell says he made three very important decisions in his life: his marriage to the former Lisa Boyd; his decision to buy into Southern Software Inc.; and his consistent votes on the county detention center issue.
No one has questioned the goodness of his marriage, but the other two decisions have attracted plenty of criticism. But he remains firm.
Calls Site ‘Ideal’
Caddell defends the decisions on the public safety-detention center, something he says has been widely misunderstood.
For one thing, he says the public has the concept that the county is building a huge new jail but points out that the building to be erected on the 21-acre tract in downtown Carthage will house the Sheriff’s Office, a magistrate’s office, a small courtroom, Emergency Medical Services and Emergency Management offices and the Enhanced 911 emergency communications system as well as the jail.
He calls the site ideal because it is adjacent to the existing jail and close to the Courts Facility.
Even before he first ran for the county board in 2006, Caddell says he was advised that the need for a much larger jail and improved facilities was crucial. His advisers? Sheriff Lane Carter, then Clerk of Court Catherine Graham and former Sheriff James Wise, all people whom he respected. In addition, he says they all described the property adjacent to the present jail as the most desirable location.
Caddell was a member of the board when the decision was made to buy the property owned by Johnny Grimm. He knows Grimm but does not classify their relationship as friendship. They are simply two men living in the same town who happen to know each other.
Critics say the $1.5 million price tag was too high, about twice the assessed value. Others disagree.
Defends Property Choice
After Nick Picerno was elected to the Board of Commissioners two years ago, the commissioners examined, not once but twice, other available properties in Carthage as the site for the proposed building. Caddell says there were negative issues with each of the other sites, most especially in the lack of available water and sewer connections.
He says the cost of installing water and sewer lines to those sites would make up the difference in the cost of the downtown property, which has the obvious advantage of location.
Completion of the public safety complex is just one of the projects Caddell wants to see to completion while he remains on the board. He hints that a third term as county commissioner may not be on his agenda.
Caddell has other projects he wants to see through.
Water is the No. 1 goal, and he wants to complete the water projects planned for Pinehurst and Seven Lakes.
“Water is a big item in the future of Moore County,” he says.
Caddell also wants to reduce the size of county government.
“To me, government has gotten way too big,” he says. “We need to figure out how to shrink government, not grow it. We don’t need to be in a position of competing with the private sector.”
He also sees too many rules and regulations that have become obstacles to desirable growth.
“We need to make Moore County a user-friendly place to do business. We need to take out the things that are ridiculous,” he says.
Caddell says he doesn’t want the county to become another Atlanta but sees modest growth of 1 or 2 percent a year as reasonable. He wants the county to grow just enough that the tax base is sufficient to fund the public schools at an adequate level and to run county government as it should be operated.
Another goal is to take the focus of his service away from his association with Southern Software and Sandhills Community College.
Caddell is chief executive officer of the software company that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software to the county. Although critics accuse Caddell and Picerno of reaping heavy profits from the donation, he says the company receives no such payments from the county. Besides, he says the bulk of the company’s business is centered outside Moore County and outside North Carolina.
His service on the Sandhills Community College board of trustees has also been the target of criticism, although state law actually encourages county commissioners and legislators to serve on college boards.
‘Make It About Us’
Born in Moore County, Caddell is a 1965 graduate of Union Pines High School and was a member of the first graduating class, 1967, at Sandhills College. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam conflict.
He and his wife have three children, Lance, Heath and Kimberly, and five grandchildren. Lisa Caddell was elected to the Carthage Board of Commissioners in 1989.
Before joining Southern Software, he worked 23 years in the banking field, 10 of those years as an area executive.
Caddell recalls a lesson in humility shared by a friend years ago. He quotes the friend as advising that in another 20 years, “you’ll be another white-haired man whose picture hangs on the wall.”
Then the friend added: “Don’t make it about you. Make it about us.”
Caddell says he decided to run for the Carthage Town Board because he was concerned about the town’s future.
Thus far, he has survived eight elections — six as Town Board member and mayor and two as county commissioner. Supporters say he must be doing something right because, despite such sharp criticism, he faced no opposition this year in his second bid for a seat on the county board — none from the Democrats or his own Republican Party.
Caddell says he plans to continue working for his community.
“I get a kick out of helping people,” he says. “It’s just what I am.”
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