Trio seek one seat

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Part 1 of a series

MURFREESBORO – The African American Caucus of the Hertford County Democratic Party hosted a candidate forum Saturday at First Baptist Church, Murfreesboro to let voters hear directly from local and state office seekers for the March 15 primary election.

All three candidates for District 1 Hertford County Commissioner – incumbent Garry Lewter, Craig Castello, and John Horton – attended the forum to answer questions from the moderators and the audience.

The moderator asked the candidates why they were running for District 1 Commissioner and why should the citizens of Hertford County vote for them.

Garry Lewter

Garry Lewter

Lewter, manager of Hunter’s Funeral Home who was appointed as a Commissioner two years ago to fill the unexpired term of now District 5 State Representative Howard Hunter III, said he has been serving others for over 38 years. Serving as county commissioner “is just another way of serving the citizens of Hertford County.”

Since being appointed to the seat, Lewter said he has attended many local and state meetings to learn how to be an effective county commissioner.

“The main job of a county commissioner is to make sure the proper people are in place,” Lewter said.

He said the county provides 24 percent of the public school’s budget, which translates into $4.2 million for operations and another $1.2 million for operational expenses.

“The county also provides over $900,000 to Roanoke-Chowan Community College for operations and another $100,000 for capital projects.” Lewter said. “Education is important to us and education is a key to industries coming into our community.

“These are some of things that are important to me,” he said. “I want to continue to work for the county.”

He encourages citizens to contact him with their concerns, “And we will get back with you.”

John Horton

John Horton

Castello spoke next. He said other people have been addressing the county’s problems for years and that it’s now time for him to step up and help make those decisions.

“We all need to be proactive instead of sitting back and letting things happen for a year,” he said. “I’m not a highly educated man; I’ve worked all my life.”

He said he plans ahead, budgeting for his county taxes well ahead of time and getting them taken care of in a timely fashion.

“I’m not a rich person; not a fancy person,” Castello remarked. “I’ve got dirt on my hands. I want to serve the people of Hertford County.

“I’m not looking to increase my social status here in the county,” he said. “I could care less about being a politician. I want to be a friend and I want to be a county commissioner.”

Next to speak was John Horton, a long-time school board member now running for District 1 Commissioner.

“I just want to serve you as county commissioner,” Horton said.

He said he is trusted in the county because citizens kept him on the school board for 28 years. Voters trusted him with their children and the school system for longer than any other elected official.

Craig Castello

Craig Castello

“The mission of county commissioners is to improve the quality of life for all the citizens,” Horton said. “I’m concerned about the quality of life for all of our citizens. I want to be a force for all our citizens.

“Commissioners have to make hard decisions,” he said. “Our county commissioners are responsible for construction and handing out contracts. Not all contracts should be awarded to the big contractors, but also to minority contractors.

“Sometimes you have to give opportunities to people who can’t compete,” he said. “A lot of people are here today because they want to know about jobs. I want to be here for all people. Many people are between a rock and hard place; they need work, the need employment.”

He said many people are leaving Hertford County. He said his father was a sharecropper and that he knows hard work.

Next in the series: NC Governor and Lt. Governor candidates.