The Golden Valley Community Club hosted the Republican candidates facing primaries for elected office last Monday night. Host Ron Gurley graciously allowed Dr. Janet Mason to speak on support of the 1/4 cent sales tax increase referendum to support schools’ critical capital needs.
Mason discussed not only the need for new modern schools to replace two 100-year-old structures, but also needs to upgrade the bus maintenance building. The new modern buses do not fit into the decades-old garage. There are other capital needs such as chillers/freezers for food distribution.
Mason thanked the School Board and County Commissioners showing their support by already funding architectural drawings. Lawmakers NC Sen. Ralph Hise and former NC Rep. Mike Hager who were a part of the lottery fund diversion from schools did not stay long enough at the Golden Valley meeting to defend their positions. The small increase to sales tax would create a reliable revenue stream paid by visitors and residents alike to fund school capital needs.
Years ago the NC General Assembly broke a long state tradition of strong support for public schools. Instead of investing the lottery funds in the state’s children by improving education, the Republican-led General Assembly chose to reduce state taxes to the wealthy and big corporations.
Standing room only at the Republican candidates forum at Golden Valley Community Club>
The District Attorney (D.A.) election will be decided at the May Republican Primary as there is no Democrat or unaffiliated opponent. Ted Bell is facing Garland Byers, Jr. who is challenging for the district 41 role that includes Rutherford and McDowell Counties.
Ted Bell is running on his record over the past four years to be re-elected to D.A. Bell stated the DA’s job was to fight crime. Bell noted he had zero tolerance for breaking and entering. Bell also said he expanded his job to work with various agencies in substance abuse counseling, and drug addiction issues. He stated he had written a law to close a loophole in the drug law that was now being introduced into the legislature as H.B. 506.
Garland Byers, Jr. who had previously worked as an investigator for D.A. Jeff Hunt, and as Assistant District Attorney for both Brad Greenway and Ted Bell, stated he had philosophical differences with Bell on how to run the office.
As a former law enforcement officer who holds an advanced certification, Byers believes the District Attorney’s office should be focused on prosecution. Byers, an experienced criminal lawyer who tried over 46 jury trials as an ADA, believes being tough on crime and being willing to conduct jury trials serves the community better. Byers’ meticulous summaries of the D.A. office activities can be found on his Garland Byers, Jr. for DA Facebook page. Those stats reveal that while Byers prosecuted most of the serious offences, Bell had not tried any major cases and has never tried a murder case.
Experience in the courtroom with local jurors, according to Byers, is what makes it possible to know when to offer a deal or bring it into court. If the elected D.A. doesn’t want to try cases, then the office begins to rely on plea deals. Byers also reliess on his extensive background at both RPD and as a sheriff’s deputy to build relationships and cases.
When asked about his role in Child Protective Service, Byers reiterated that part of the D.A.’s role in child abuse cases was the appeal of Department of Social Services findings. Byers will bank on leadership and management experience in the office to create a professional and responsible state prosecution team.
Neither candidate had any “gotcha” questions and both presented professional introductions.
The sheriff candidates will be addressed in a separate article.