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Ray Gasperson seeks Polk commissioner seat

Over the years I have had many occasions to come to Polk County mainly in a supporting role for my wife and three children, who were involved with riding horses. I am a native of Buncombe County with family roots there that span more than 200 years. I never thought that I would leave Asheville, but when my mother-in-law passed away, my wife said, &dquo;I want to go to Polk County.&dquo;

Driving around with a realtor that knew the area, I was awestruck by the rural beauty of Polk County and understood why my wife would want to move here. We purchased 43 acres in Green Creek and established my wife&squo;s dream farm. After living here for the past seven years, I would not want to live anywhere else.

Shortly after our move, I started following the local political scene, especially where conservation and preservation of our rural landscape is concerned. As a general contractor, I know how development can either enhance or destroy an area. Since I have seen first hand how improper planning in parts of Buncombe County has been destructive, I want to ensure that Polk County maintains its rural character.

As a board member of the Collinsville Equestrian Trail Association (CETA) I work to keep riding trails open for equestrian recreation, which is a hallmark of our area. Upscale development is prestigious ‐ however, we must also make sure that Polk County has sound job development and housing that is more affordable. Our young adults and working class people need employment opportunities and a place to live, so they will not need to leave Polk County in order to make ends meet.

Agriculture is a mainstay of Polk County&squo;s economy. Farming should be supported with agricultural land conservancy, keeping taxes low, and working with farmers so they can afford to retain their farms.

I learned as a political science major at UNC Asheville how political decisions made by those we elect have a huge impact on all of our lives. I believe that a person in a leadership position must listen and consider all sides of an issue, find common ground and compromise when necessary. I follow this philosophy in my business, family life, and when I have served in leadership capacities for CETA, St. Mark&squo;s Lutheran Church Council (Asheville), and as student body president at UNCA, 1972-73.

As a small business owner for 31 years, I know that in order to be successful, a person must be willing to work hard, be financially responsible, and plan for success. I believe I have the knowledge, foresight, experience, and work ethic to help Polk County plan for the future as county commissioner.