Once upon a time, elections for the Moore County Board of Commissioners were vigorously contested affairs, but they really haven’t been for some time now.

Indeed, you need to go back to 2014 to find the last time a Democrat ran in the general election. Back then, Democrat Thomas Leen challenged Republican Jerry Daeke, who won by a 2-1 margin. Exit the Democrats.

In fact, even primary challenges among Republicans have been sporadic. In the last four years, we’ve had just two primary contests among Republicans. It’s almost more challenging to get elected to the county’s Soil and Water District.

For this year’s election, two seats are up for the board, but only one position is contested. Commissioners chairman Frank Quis faces no opposition. Republican incumbent Commissioner Louis Gregory is competing against Democrat and first-time candidate Ariadne DeGarr.

Frank Quis

It might seem a pointless exercise to “endorse” a candidate for whom there is no competition, but we did not want to let this opportunity pass without acknowledging the strong first term Frank Quis has experienced.

Quis is a former Southern Pines mayor, and his time overseeing the town was marked by a steady, even-handed and fair-minded approach. Quis was a competent councilman and mayor and helped guide the town’s affairs in stable fashion.

In those respects, he has also governed as a county commissioner. Moore County has had its share of firebrands who would rather use their position and politics to rail against what they see as society’s ills. It’s not that Quis doesn’t care; he just knows the commissioners’ dais is not the place for that flash.

Earlier this year — before the coronavirus changed everything — Quis was faced with a call from some in the county to have commissioners speak out forcefully for the Second Amendment. The meeting room was packed, the audience thundered, but the commissioners in the end passed as innocuous a resolution as they could, unlike other counties that took the red-meat bait.

That’s Quis, who’d rather get meaningful things done than succumb to posturing. He’s more interested in working with others to ensure the county makes progress. We’re glad to see he’ll have another four years on the board to model his leadership style.

Louis Gregory

Gregory, retired from a career in law enforcement, faced no opponents four years ago. This year, he beat homebuilder Ron Jackson in the primary election and now faces newcomer Ariadne DeGarr.

There’s a lot to like about DeGarr. She is committed and passionate about being a voice for those who don’t see themselves reflected on the Board of Commissioners. That includes young people, people of color and those familiar with struggling at the margins. She’d advocate for better education funding and broader opportunities for economic development

Gregory also has a track record of advocacy, though in a style different from his opponent’s. Gregory was among the first commissioners to highlight the plight of conditions at several Moore County schools. He supported stop-gap funding to fix some of those problems and supported efforts to get a new school construction bond passed.

Gregory has also been a staunch advocate for the public during the coronavirus pandemic. He is the commissioners’ liaison to the Board of Health and has done a good job asking questions of the Moore County Health Department and its director, Robert Wittmann. Gregory’s persistent question of tactics and spending has helped turn that department into a stronger responder and communicator.

When it comes to spending tax dollars, Gregory is one of the first to make sure the public gets heard, but sometimes he overdoes it, like earlier this year on a routine contract to approve new computers for school children.

Gregory also sits on the statewide association of boards of commissioners and works to help lobbying efforts in Raleigh on the behalf of counties.

On balance, he’s been an effective commissioner and we endorse him for a second term.

(1) comment

Here’s hoping the Commissioners will continue to reign in spending on government schools, whose enrollment just dropped significantly. The school report cards for Moore County are an embarrassment, especially in light of massive new spending for four gold-plated elementary schools. The County Commission - not the MCS School Board and not the Wonder Women - are most responsible for our taxes and assuring we get our money’s worth from government schools, as long as we continue to be forced to fund them.

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