Hyder focuses on good-paying jobs, education

By Kathy Helms-Hughes
STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   Janet Hyder is not just a teacher at Happy Valley Middle School. The candidate for county executive has a head for business and a nose for ferreting out the facts.
   Before becoming a teacher, she worked in the accounting department at Sears in Atlanta, in payroll and insurance at Harris Manufacturing, and also worked at Citizens Bank. "I feel I have the education for the job," she said, citing courses in business law, business management and accounting.
   Her ability to see different points of view is another reason she believes she's the best candidate for the job. "I'm a teacher, so I see the problems in the classroom; I see the problems with the budget. I'm a parent so I can see their views on things. I'm a taxpayer, so I can see how we need to make wise use of our tax money."
   Her two main focuses are getting and keeping good-paying jobs in Carter County as well as a good educational system, which is probably the biggest financial challenge the county faces, she said.
   "We're sort of like in limbo right now because we don't know what the state's going to do. Even the county, their financial budget is in limbo. We can't plan because we don't know what we're going to get. We know that people can't pay taxes if they don't have jobs. We've got to find some way to get this thing going."
   Asked whether she would support countywide zoning, Hyder said she would have to take a look at the county's ordinances first.
   "If our county ordinances are sufficient, then no, we don't need it. But I would have to see it in writing and also find out what the people want. You just don't say, 'Yes, I'm for it,' until you talk to the people. After all, it's their county. They pay the taxes. They're supposed to have a say in this. I could support it if it met the needs of the people but if it did not infringe upon the rights of people either."
   Last year's problems with inmates flooding the Carter County Jail tend to make Hyder believe that the jail and county offices should be divided into separate facilities.
   "But, it's a money issue, too," she said. "Who knows, maybe the old hospital could be used, especially for non-violent offenders. When it comes to violent offenders, they need to be somewhere where it's high security and, as far as I'm concerned, away from the general public. They need to be somewhere where they can't do this."
   Hyder believes the most important quality in a county executive is their ability to reason. "They've got to be able to look at facts and listen to the people, and then come to a conclusion where what you decide benefits people but doesn't hurt people.
   "When you have something that you pass that really hurts people or a certain section of people, then you'd better take a second look at it," she said. "You need to talk to people. You just can't 'X' everybody out and say, 'Well, I've got my own system and I have my own ideas and this is the way it will be.' "
   Even though the county plans to hire a finance director to increase efficiency and accountability, Hyder said, "That financial director is still subject to reporting to the county executive and the county executive is still responsible for making sure everything is efficient and correct. That does not relieve the county executive of their responsibility. And believe you me, I want to know what's going on."
   Hyder expects to have a good working relationship with the new finance director. "You have to work very closely with someone who is keeping records and you've got to verify those records," she said. "You can't just say, 'We had an expenditure here.' You've got to have some system of checks and balances: 'Why did you have it? Was it legal? Was it authorized? Who authorized it?'
   "You have to know where it's coming from and where it's going. And if I have a financial director, that person had best be able to tell me. If they can't tell me, then I don't need them," she said.