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Cast your ballot carefully

To the Editor:

As I read and listen to the comments of citizens and candidates for County Commissioner seats in Hertford County, I have mixed emotions. One way I feel that maybe I should run for one more term to help the county keep moving forward as we have in the past 17 years of my term. Then again I hear all the lies and false promises and I am happy to be getting out of the campaign mess. However, I will advise citizens to carefully choose who you listen to and who you vote for.

When I came on the Board of Commissioners, County Manager Don Craft told me that we needed to build a new courthouse because we are spending a lot of repair money on the old one. He showed me professional drawings for the new building.

Fast forward 15 years and we have a new courthouse and an adjacent government center building without raising taxes. Taxes were $1.06 when I came into office in 2000, and they have held steady at 84 cents for the past eight years. During that time we have increased our fund balance to over 25% and been able to give county employees pay increases every year with an additional longevity bonus.

The County has also refurbished the former government building in Winton to locate all of Social Services in one building. This allowed us to move county workers out of the building in Ahoskie, which was full of mold and mildew.

We are currently in the process of purchasing and remodeling the former Dr. Edwards building in Ahoskie for a new Senior Citizens Center due to the poor condition of the old R.L. Vann Senior Center. This building will also house a new Board of Elections office. The current elections building in Winton is old, dilapidated and way too small.

We built a new consolidated E911 dispatch building in Winton without any county dollars. We have grown our staff with professional people who make great contributions to the county. We have accomplished all of this without raising taxes.

One more thing, our county manager is the best in the state. She is very wise with our tax dollars and she is very strict about following rules and laws. Our fund balance is three times what it was 15 years ago. To those who say she does not live in the county, do you know how many county employees do not live in Hertford County? Many drive from Bertie, Gates, Northampton, and other surrounding areas. Some of you talk like you want to fire all of them. How about the Community College Presidents and School Superintendents? Have they all lived in Hertford County? Sometimes we have to make concessions to get what is best for our county.

Some of our citizens say we chased our Economic Developer out of the county and he is very successful in another county while we do not have an Economic Developer in our county. We make some mistakes, but your Board of Commissioners have accomplished much over the past years.

Finally, I will say beware of candidate promises. First it takes three votes to change anything on the board. Second, it takes money to change things. Third, are we going to build a 16 million dollar graded school for 350 students, and are you going to pay for it? Change is good as long as it is well planned and funded properly.

I wish all candidates the best and thank you for your service. I’m just happy to be on the sidelines.

Johnnie Ray Farmer

Hertford County Commissioner

Millennium