Business minds needed

Published 11:12 am Monday, January 23, 2012

Orchestrating the implementation and delivery of services offered by a county or municipality is much like overseeing the daily operations of a business.

The various county departments – tax collector, sheriff, register of deeds, social services, etc. – each fall under the leadership of a professional in that particular line of work. The same can be said for a business….management (i.e. plant manager or CEO), customer service, department supervisors, etc.

With that in mind, one would think that individuals with business backgrounds would make for ideal leaders within local county or municipal government. That is often the case here in the Roanoke-Chowan region as we can name numerous businessmen and women who are proven leaders within the realm of local government.

However, there is one local board that lacks such business minds – the Hertford County Commissioners.

With the exception of Howard Hunter III, the latest generation to operate his family-owned business, that board is comprised of men whose livihoods either are or were supported by taxpayer money.

We’re not implying that Curtis Freeman or Ronald Gatling, both employed by Hertford County Public Schools, or Bill Mitchell, an employee of Probation and Parole, or retired JROTC instructor Johnnie Ray Farmer are not fit for the roles they serve within county government.

What we are saying is they sometimes fail to see the big picture due to their collective lack of business experience. When a person leans on the system to support their personal lives or that of their families, it’s easy to fall into the perception that the rest of the world lives the same way.

When a business owner comes face to face with making improvements, that investment comes from their wallet, not from taxpayers. They have to weigh all the options of how that investment will impact the bottom line of the company’s financial future, as well as affecting their customer base.

The Hertford County Commissioners need to wear business caps when mapping out the future location of the county seat as they deliberate where to build the new courthouse. While the board continues to debate this important decision they need to treat the county citizens as their customers, striving to keep their best interests at the forefront of this ongoing discussion.

– The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald