Commissioner candidates talk issues ahead of March 3 primary

Commissioner candidates talk issues ahead of March 3 primary

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photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

This is the first in a series of candidate profiles ahead of the March 3 Primary Election. Democratic candidates for District II will be in next Thursday’s Macon County News. 

The March 3 Primary, which will decide which candidates will appear on the November ballot is less than 50 days away. The Macon County Board of Commissioners District II seat is vacant, which prompted five candidates  – three Republicans and two Democrats – to file for office. 

The three Republicans, Terry Bradley, Bryan Rauers, and Josh Young, are all newcomers to the political scene, but have strong roots in Macon County’s civic and business communities. 

Terry Bradley

Terry Bradley is a life-long resident of Macon County and currently lives in the Clarks Chapel Community. Spending the better part of his life as a public servant, Bradley is a member of the First Baptist Church  and a member of Junaluskee Lodge #145.

Bradley has 38 years of law enforcement experience, 18 of which was as Chief of Police of Franklin. He completed the rigorous North Carolina Justice Academy’s Management Development Program and he went on to manage not only employees, but also municipal taxpayer-funded budgets. Bradley has been a volunteer of Cullasaja Gorge Fire and Rescue and served as one of the Board of Directors of the department.

“I would like to continue my legacy of public service as a Macon County Commissioner utilizing my experiences to help guide the decisions that will be made by the Board of Commissioners to benefit the residents and visitors of our community,” said Bradley. 

Bryan Rauers

Bryan Rauers grew up in Charleston, S.C., and after graduating from the University of South Carolina, he moved to Atlanta, Ga., to start his career in the automotive industry. Rauers moved to Franklin in 2002 after purchasing the Franklin Ford dealership. Rauers and Kerry, his wife of 17 years, have two children and have lived in Macon County for nearly two decades. 

Rauers worked for Booomershine Automotive Group in Atlanta from 1992-1999 becoming a General Manager of one of their dealerships. He then worked for Hennessy Automotive Group in Atlanta from 1999-2002 as the General Manager of Land Rover Buckhead and then bought the Ford dealership in Franklin in 2002 along with his brother and stepfather.

“Living and having a business in Macon County for the past 17 years and having both of my children in the Macon County public school system makes me vested in this community,” said Rauers. “This gives me every reason to see Macon County succeed. For these reasons, I would like to make a difference in Macon County.”

Josh Young

Joshua Young is a 5th Generation Maconian and has been married to his high school sweetheart for almost 12 years and together they have five children. Young supported his wife while she earned her nursing degree and she has been home with their young children.  Young was taught how to work at a young age on his family’s Christmas tree farm and according to him, that work ethic has molded him into the person he is today.  Young spent eight years as a lineman for Duke Energy before he stepped away in pursuit of the American Dream.  He started Young Tree Service in May of 2015. Young is very active in the community, serving on many youth athletic boards as well as coaching numerous youth football, baseball, softball and basketball teams. He enjoys the outdoors, spending time with family and cooking. 

Young’s professional experiences includes his eight-year career at Duke Energy in which he was involved in many extra curricular activities such as working as a team in the Lineman’s Rodeo and being a member of the new employee hiring process in Charlotte, N.C. Young has specialized in N.C. real estate for the past 12 years in which he has moved dozens of properties and gained invaluable experience managing a budget. Young is the owner and operator of Young Tree Services, Inc., specializing in Removing Trees with low or no ground impact and the use of heavy machinery.

“I have no experience in running for public office, but what I do have is a passion to be a part of a solution,” said Young. “I could sit back and complain about what is or isn’t being done or put my name out there like the other candidates have done and show that I am willing to step up. I would be honored to serve my community and I would ensure that the tax dollars are spent wisely. I would fight to keep our taxes low and strive to be transparent in everything I do. I want to be a County Commissioner to represent the people of Macon County. I am not a politician. I am a tax paying citizen of Macon County. I work with my hands for a living and likely will show up to many meetings with my dirty work boots. This is a very important position in Macon County. I hope to bring an unbiased, independent mindset and a new energy to the Board of Commissioners. I am prepared to make tough business-minded decisions to represent the tax payers of this county.”

What do you see as being the biggest issue facing Macon County and how would you address it if elected?

Bradley: “I think that there is more than one critical issue facing Macon County, continued economic stability and growth, job options for new graduates, health care availability, accessible reliable broadband accessibility, are some of the major issues we are faced with. I will approach each issue with an unbiased evaluation based upon what brings the most value to the citizens of Macon County.”

Rauers: “Broadband for our county is a very large issue. It is imperative we have good broadband for new business and business growth. I have spoken with current county commissioners as well as Rep. Kevin Corbin and Senator Jim Davis about this issue. The county commissioners are working diligently on this topic now but it is very complex. Our demographic area makes it hard and very costly to install the fiber. This leaves the companies installing the fiber with no profit margin. If elected I would work with our state representatives hoping for state and federal assistance.”

Young: “As an employer, employees are our greatest assets. I feel one of the largest issues facing Macon County are the county employee wages. I have been in contact with dozens of county employees and realize that we are losing key players in our county government weekly. The private sector pay far exceeds the county pay rate.  The answer is not to “raise taxes” but instead trim some fat out of other areas of our budget and compensate our greatest assets.”

Public Education: Commissioners are faced with more and more requests for public education funding. What is your stance on county’s role in funding public education? Do you think the current levels are adequate or do you think they should be increased/decreased?

Bradley: “I think it is very important to support public education and there is increased budget pressure placed on Macon County due to increases in school population and unfunded mandates from State and Federal programs.  One of the main issues currently facing Macon County will be the future replacement or renovation of the Franklin High School facilities. We also need to continue to evaluate local supplements for teacher pay and support staff in order to retain our investment in these resources.”

Rauers: “This is a very complicated question because of the way public education is funded in Macon County. That being said I am pro-education. First and foremost, education for our children should be our #1 priority. If we want Macon County to be better in the next 20 years, we better invest in our children. We need to make sure our school facilities are not only up to date but safe. We also have to make sure our teachers’ pay stays competitive so that we can continue to keep great teachers in our school system. From what I have been able to find out our county does stand behind our schools and should continue. I would have to say the schools are in need of more money for many projects. It is very important for Macon County to invest in our children, school facilities, and our teachers. Simply put, better education results in fewer drug-related issues, less crime, and a better economy.”

Young: “Our youth is our next generation. It is imperative that our kids get the education they deserve. I feel the problem is at the state level. There is no reason our teachers should be buying materials out of their own pocket.  As your commissioner I want to petition the state for more money. I will go to work for this county and petition Raleigh for what we need.”

Macon County is in the middle of a large space needs analysis project to address infrastructure needs. What are your thoughts on the current direction the county is taking to address these issues?

Bradley: “The final report is complete and it can be found at www.maconnc.org,” said Bradley. “ There are concerns being raised about courthouse security, inmate population, and other departments having growth issues. If elected I would work to find workable solutions that are economically viable and financially sustainable.”

“First, let me say I applaud the county manager and the county commissioners for hiring an outside firm to perform a space and needs analysis. The county manager and commissioners should review not only the findings of the analysis but also the county’s internal findings. I would then prioritize what we feel has to be done immediately and what can be done at a later date. After you prioritize, funding would have to be figured out. I believe the county is handling this issue the way they should.”

Young: “The answer isn’t always to build a brand new building.  Macon County is overrun with empty space. The old Walmart is a ghost town, K-Mart plaza is bare, several vacancies along 441.  Yes, we need more room in our county infrastructure but look at all the available space. I want to do all I can to support local infrastructure and create a pro-business atmosphere. I am thankful for the businesses and restaurants but we need more. This is a huge reason I decided to run for office. The commissioners wisely requested the space needs analysis and once the study has concluded  I would be a fiscally responsible representative of our tax dollars.”

Any other issues or information that you would like to include for your voters.

Bradley: “ There may be issues that I am unaware of and I will work diligently to address any of these issues.”

Rauers: “I am honored to be running for Macon County Commissioner. My time in Macon County and my business experience will help me make the correct decisions for the people of this county. The questions have included a couple of my platform points but here are some others:

– Pro Law Enforcement

– Pro Emergency Personnel

– Pro Business

– Continue the fight on our drug epidemic

– Make sure Macon County has long term vision.”

Young: “I am excited to have the opportunity to serve the taxpayers of Macon County.  I love this community and I’m thankful to call it my home.”

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