Learned today that my email to the local newspapers had not been received, after faxing new copies, I've been informed that I missed the deadline for political letters. Thanks go to Sandy of the Outer Banks Sentinel for making certain I was notified.
To the Editor:
During the last few weeks I have been asked why I had not responded to the "mud slinging" that has been appearing in the letter section of the local newspapers. I had hoped to remain on the side lines of what appears to be a major political "sling-fest". However, after reading the letter now being circulated by Mayor Smith in support of the new candidates, I felt that I had to correct some errors that may give voters the wrong impression.
The Mayor states, "Over the past several years Council Members, Hess, Sanders, and Shields voted as follows;”
"Voted to increase taxes 40% during the past 4 years."
Not entirely correct. Refer to the vote found in the Council Minutes of June 24, 2005. This involved a tax increase that I felt was not necessary. Note that Council Members Sanders and McDonald voted "no".
"Voted to increase land transfer tax for beach nourishment despite overwhelming residential opposition."
Read the minutes from June 1, 2004. Town Council unanimously passed a resolution to express support for the State Legislature to give Dare County the authority to levy such a tax. Note in the minutes that nobody objected to this resolution and although Mr. Smith spoke during Public Comment he said nothing about it. The "overwhelming residential opposition" occurred much later, after the Legislature gave Dare County the right to levy a sales tax and the County exercised that right.
"Voted to change residential property to Government and Institution again despite overwhelming residential opposition."
There certainly was more opposition in this matter. But if you read the minutes from the September 4, 2007, I think you will see that the primary problem expressed had to do with an undeveloped "paper" street that had no bearing on the rezoning. Several people voiced support for the Outer Banks Community Foundation, but wanted to see the street eliminated. Also notable is that the rezoning passed by a 4 -1 vote which included Councilman McDonald voting “yes”.
"Failed to develop Short and Long Term Planning"
Judge for yourself: Look at the Council Minutes and budgets for the last few years. There were always short term plans covering one or two years with road and multi-use path projects, except this fiscal year. This year we sought to create a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) covering a 5 - 10 year period. Council meeting agendas are composed and approved by the Mayor, for some reason the CIP workshop we had planned for this fall has not yet been placed on an agenda.
"Failed to begin Dredging Program"
Although initial action began in 2004, actual progress was being made in the period from January, 2005 through May 2005. Council minutes during this period reflect such things as, final resolution of the ownership of canal bottoms (Gravey Pond), negotiations with Hillcrest property owners, and reports on test samples. But the acquisition of a spoil site remained elusive. Property had to be designated in order to initiate the application process, a situation that was only resolved earlier this year. Also notable is the fact that the State did not actually grant the funding for this project until the summer of 2006 (Ref: Council Minutes, July 5, 2006). How far can you go, how fast can you move, when you have neither the land nor the funding to bring a project to completion? If the Town Council has failed in regard to this project, then it is a failure of all five members, not just three.
I’ve been accused of being part of a “block of three”, lacking integrity, honesty and open-mindedness, and supporting wasteful programs. Not true, there is no collusion going on, each of the incumbents has acted honorably on your behalf, and the “wasteful” programs we have voted for include the Chipping Program, Ocean Rescue, and Volunteer Fire Dept., all established, long standing programs for which the citizens have voiced strong support many times.
In situations like this, who do you believe? How do you determine the truth?
How do you make an educated decision? All the information you need is easily available, go to www.southernshores-nc.gov on the Internet and look up the minutes in the Documents section of the web-site or go by Town Hall and request copies. Do you want a Town Council of responsible but independent thinking individuals, or a group that will vote lockstep with one voice? Look at the issues, read the discussions, count the votes, then decide how you will vote. Don’t take my word for it or that of any other candidate or council member. “Trust but verify” is a good policy in most any situation.
If this doesn’t satisfy your curiosity, all Council members’ telephone numbers and email addresses are listed on the same website, contact them. By now all the candidates should have presented you with similar information. Utilize these resources. Make your decision and go vote.
Candidate for Re-Election
Southern Shores Town Council