The candidates who are competing for the District 4 seat on the Nash County Board of Commissioners said they would work to serve as a voice for residents of the district and to promote transparency on the board, among other goals.
Political newcomers Bert Daniel, a Democrat, and Lisa Stone Barnes, a Republican, are vying for the position.
Both candidates are opposed to a proposed Sanderson Farms chicken processing plant locating in Southern Nash County. They defeated candidates who were poultry plant supporters, including Republican Commissioner Danny Tyson, during the May primary.
Daniel and Barnes have a variety of experience they would bring to the board.
Daniel, 68, is a retired independent sales professional. He served on the Nash Health Care Systems Board of Commissioners for nine years, and he was chairman during his last year on the board. He is a member of the Nash County Health Board. He also is co-chairman of the Nash County Landowners Association.
Barnes, 46, is self-employed in agribusiness. She is a member of the Farmers Market Advisory Board, and she served on the Nash County Planning Board for six years. In the past, she has worked as a planning assistant for the city of Rocky Mount and a real estate paralegal. She also served as the Republican judge at the Coopers Precinct for a number of years.
If elected, Barnes said her top priority would be to listen to the concerns of residents in District 4. She said she would bring independent thinking, originality and fresh leadership to the board.
“I’m the type of person that likes to think outside the box,” Barnes said.
She also hopes to bring more age diversity to the board. If elected, she would be the youngest member on the board.
If elected, Daniel said he would treat residents of Nash County as customers, which means he would be responsible to them and their interests. That is a relationship he would take seriously, Daniel said.
“This election is not about me,” Daniel said. “It’s about the citizens of Nash County, and I would consider it a privilege to represent them.”
The county needs to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and partnership with residents, Daniel said.
“We’ll only do that if we become more transparent and more customer friendly,” he said.
Residents will not want to participate in county government if they don’t feel respected, Daniel said.
Barnes said she also sees a need for more transparency and openness in county policies and procedures. Many residents she has talked to feel like they aren’t being listened to during public hearings, Barnes said.
Both candidates said Nash County has many assets that could help attract industries to the area.
Daniel said county leaders should reevaluate how they market Nash County.
“We’ve got a river, three major highway systems and a beautiful inventory of assets,” Daniel said. “How we market these may need to be reviewed and repositioned.”
Barnes said keeping the tax rate low and working to have necessary infrastructure in place, including water, sewer, natural gas and high-speed Internet, will help attract businesses.
The county also needs to work to build a quality workforce through education and vocational training, Barnes said.
Daniel agreed that education and business go hand-in-hand. Without an educated and motivated workforce, the county will not be able to attract industries that will make it proud and prosperous in the future, Daniel said.
He said the county also needs to look at whether it is doing enough to help existing businesses grow and expand.
Barnes said she would look at the possibility of having county commissioners serve as liaisons between the board and different county departments. She also would like to promote more public-private partnerships and leadership training.
“Anything we can do to promote good leadership skills is going to benefit our whole county,” Barnes said.