Eight candidates seek chance to run for county board in fall

Published 4:34 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Voters in Polk County arent lacking choices in this years county commissioner race.
The Republican and Democratic parties in Polk County are each offering four candidates to fill the three open seats on the county board.
Voters will narrow the field to three candidates from each party in the May 4 primary election. Even after two candidates are eliminated, voters are likely to see eight candidates on the ballot again in the November general election.
Current county commissioners Tommy Melton and Warren Watson are seeking reelection as Unaffiliated candidates after recently leaving the Democratic party.
Melton and Watson dont have to compete in the primary, but they must get 600 signatures on a petition before they can make the switch official and get on the November ballot.
They would then join a field of six primary election winners, which is sure to include some other candidates with experience as a county commissioner.
The field for the May 4 primary includes another incumbent, Democrat Ray Gasperson, and includes former Polk County commissioners Republican Harry Denton, Republican Ted Owens, Republican Tom Pack and Democrat Benny Smith.
Denton lost in the 2008 Republican primary after serving two terms on the county board. Owens served nine years on the county board and Pack served four. They fell short of reelection in November of 2008. Benny Smith last served on the county board in 2000 after two terms, beginning in 1992.
The other Democratic candidates this year are Margaret Johnson, who has served as chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, and Rickie McFalls, a political newcomer.
David Moore, the other Republican candidate, ran for the county board in 2008, but fell short in the November election.
Below is more information about the candidates in this years primary election, as provided by the candidates and listed in alphabetical order.
&bsp;Bulletin also recently presented questions to each of the county board candidates, and will begin running answers to those questions in the Monday edition.
Ray Gasperson
I am a native and life long resident of our beautiful Western North Carolina Mountains. My wife Sue and I will soon celebrate our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. We have three adult children. Laura and her husband Kevin Peek will soon be moving to Polk County, along with our beautiful granddaughter Meredith. Julia and her husband Jared Roddy already live here in Polk County, and our son Corey lives here on our forty three acre farm in the Green Creek community. Our farm is a working farm that produces hay for our own animals and also for sale. We are proud that our farm is enrolled in the Farm Preservation Voluntary Agricultural District.
My interest in being an elected official began in the early 1970s when I ran for and was elected student body of UNC-Asheville during my senior year as a political science major. I found that to be a very rewarding experience. After over 30 years of being a successful small business owner and licensed General Contractor, I ran for and was elected a Polk County Commissioner in 2008. This also has proved to be a challenging yet very rewarding experience. I am presently serving as the Vice-Chairman.
Through the years I have had many opportunities to serve several volunteer boards and positions including a Lutheran Church Council. Presently I am also on the Board of Trustees of Isothermal Community College, Polk County Farmland Preservation Board, C. E. T. A. Board member and the Isothermal Planning and Development Board.
Margaret Johnson
In addition to my family, my life has focused on serving others, both professionally and through civic and volunteer activities. As a registered nurse, I have worked in emergency rooms and coronary care units and have extensive community health experience. I am also a veteran. After serving in the Air Force Nurse Corps, I was fortunate to have the GI Bill to help me return to college to obtain a Business Administration degree.
I am a person who likes to build things up and see peoples lives made better by the efforts. For example, when I started as the administrator of a health care corporation, we had 15 employees. Nine years later, the corporation employed 250 people and had a multi-million dollar budget. I have done the same kind of building in the many community organizations in which I have volunteered.
In my community health work, I cared for people all over Polk County and have seen first hand the different challenges we face. I do not shy away from difficult situations and am known for working hard and always trying to do the right thing.
I was born outside of Nashville, Tennessee, grew up in south Georgia and moved to Polk County seven years ago. My husband and I have one son who attends Polk County High School. We feel so fortunate to be able to live in this wonderful county. I want to protect the natural beauty and rural character of our county and I also want to help our families and businesses prosper. I give my all to anything I undertake and I will give my all in working for everyone in Polk County.
Rickie McFall
I, Rickie McFalls, was born on September 11th, 1956 at St. Lukes Hospital, and have lived on Peniel Road just outside of Columbus my entire life. I have 2 sisters, Lori Waldrop of Taylors, South Carolina and Lisa Brown of Green Creek, and a brother Donnie McFalls, also living on Peniel Road. I graduated from Polk Central High School and started my employment at Southern Mercerizing in Tryon. I later worked for Hatch Mill in Columbus, Milliken Chemical in Inman, South Carolina and Michelin Tire Corporation in Spartanburg, South Carolina where I worked for 23 years before retiring. I married Renee McCoy on February 4th, 1977 and have 2 children, Blaine McFalls of Charlotte and Wendy Yellen of Columbus. I also have 2 grandchildren, Madison, 8 years old and Cayden, 7 months old. My wife and I are active members of Midway Baptist Church in Columbus. I have a passion for my community and helping others. My wife and I have previously been the owners and operators of a business serving Columbus and surrounding communities for 22 years. During the course of this 22 years the business expanded to 4 other locations within North Carolina. I served as a volunteer fireman in Columbus for 20 years before retiring. During my 20 years of service I proudly held several offices including Safety Officer, Lieutenant and Captain. Even though I am retired I am still involved by currently serving on the Fire Tax Board for Columbus Township. I also serve my community as a Shriner and a member of the Masonic Lodge. I have enjoyed my 53 years as a citizen of Polk County where I have made many great friends. I am very proud to be a resident of the Columbus community and of Polk County.
Benny Smith
From my early days in Mrs. Henry Bartols Cub Scout Den and Mr. Harold Taylors Boy Scout Troop, I was taught to serve our community and protect our land.
Previous experience
Polk County commissioner 1992-2000, two years chairman and two years vice chairman.
Board of Directors of North Carolina Association of County Commissioners
National Board of Directors Association of County Commissioners
St. Lukes Hospital Board of Directors
Polk County Zoning Board of Adjustment
Isothermal Community College Board of Trustees
Tryon Fire Department
Tryon Country Club Board of Directors
Duke Power Company
Hensons Inc.
Present Community Service
Chairman of Harmon Field Board of Supervisors
Citizens Against Forced Annexation
Green Creek Ruritan Club
I will be a strong voice for all citizens of Polk County. We need to establish better communication with commissioners and our municipalities.
All actions by commissioners should have sufficient time for the public to review and transparency must occur by encouraging community comments before action is taken. Citizens should feel empowered to become involved.
I will collaborate with our planning board, implement our land-use plan, maintain and enforce our ordinances, encourage and investigate growth opportunities.
Partnership with the board of education is of utmost importance. Our children must receive nothing but the best in regards to education, guidance and community leadership.
Networking and collaborating with our economic development board in order to bring in low impact, but high quality and well-compensated opportunities. We must promote travel and tourism in our beautiful community.
As citizens of Polk County, we can work together to promote cohesiveness and protect our county. As a result of our teamwork, we will enjoy our community and surroundings, benefit from current successes and look forward to future opportunities to make the best even better.
Harry Denton
I was born in Polk County, and have never seen the need to live anywhere else. This is home, and Im proud to have served as a Columbus town councilman, a two-term Polk County commissioner, and a member on the Polk County Planning Board, Recreation Commission, Board of Social Services, Health Department, and Chimney Rock State Park Advisory Committee.
I am an Army veteran having served during the Berlin and Cuban Missile Crisis. I spent 18 long, cold months in Germany.
I have been an active supporter of youth sports and activities, and was honored by having the ballfield at Gibson Park named after me. I dont mind to roll up my sleeves and sweat and most recently, I helped cut trees on the banks of the Polk County High School baseball fields to save money for the schools. I also volunteer my time and BBQ equipment for the Polk County High School Boosters Club.
My voting record shows that I am a responsible, effective county commissioner. As a commissioner, we brought our fund balance from $3 million to over $7 million in just six years. When I went on the board, we implemented a new surplus equipment policy which brought in thousands of additional dollars to the county for the sale of police cars, transfer station scales, and other county assets.
I took special interest in landscaping the new transfer station, making it an area of which Polk County citizens could be proud. Inmate labor was used to perform needed and mandated grass cutting at both the transfer station and Laughter Pond.
I am an advocate for the Polk County taxpayers. I have no hidden agendas, I stand alone for the citizens, and I am your voice for responsible, efficient and effective government.
Newly retired, I still want to serve Polk County citizens.
David Moore
I am David Moore of the Coopers Gap Township. I live in Sunny View with my wife Lorraine (Bailey). We have been married for thirty one years. We have two wonderful children Justin (Bonnie) and Stacey. I am employed with Mountain Professionals Inc. as Drivers Education Instructor for Polk and Rutherford County Schools. Prior to my employment with Mountain Professionals Inc. I worked with the Sherwin Williams Paint Company for over sixteen years. I was the store manager for the last fourteen of those years. I graduated from Polk Central High School Class of 1980. Im an active member of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, where I am a former youth Sunday School Teacher, currently serving as assistant music director and church treasurer. I served for three years on the board of directors at Polk Vocational Services.
Ted Owens
Im Teddy B. (Ted) Owens, a native of Tryon and my wife, Elna is a native of Sunny View. We have three children and six grandkids. My daughter, Beth is a graduate of NCA with a Business Degree, my first son, Bruce is a Doctor of Aeronautical Engineer from N.C. State, my second son obtained his Graduate Degree in Dentistry Education from N.C. Chapel Hill in May. I retired as a Senior Territory Manager for Milliken & Co. I later worked for Milliken as a consultant. I have written several articles for trade magazines. In recognition of my achievements I have received numerous awards from trade associations and Milliken. I was Mayor of Columbus for four years and a County Commissioner for nine years. I have been recognized by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners as Director for four counties. Im presently serving as Deacon and Chairman at Coopers Gap Baptist Church and I am involved with several civic organizations. Im co-owner of Wash Away, LLC.
Tom Pack
I am a native of Polk County and live in the Columbus Township. My wife Lisa and I have two children, Eric age 11 and Timothy age 9. I have been in management for over 15 years, starting with Carousel Carpets in Ukiah California as Manager of Engineering and Development. I am presently President of White Oak Carpet Mills in Spindale. My management experience is also complimented with a strong financial background in budget development and implementation.

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