Solutions not quick fixes will improve county says Whaley

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Solving a problem and working fairly within government and the county will save the county's leaders and citizens a lot of headaches, says Charles "Jim" Whaley.
   "I think things need to be a little more fair," said Whaley, 46, who is seeking office as a Carter County commissioner in the 3rd District. "When you look at the county budget, you need to be more fair with all the departments.
   "You can't give to one or two and say, 'We'll have to come up with something later for the rest of you.'"
   Whaley cited as an example the county's zoning regulations. He felt zoning should be enforced as a one-size-fits-all policy rather than allowing some county district to opt out of following zoning rules.
   "Don't come to my house and tell me I can't hammer a nail and tell someone else in the county they can do whatever they want," Whaley remarked. "Either you're going to be fair about it and enforce it or don't do it at all."
   The county's 2nd, 4th and 6th Districts opted out of the county property zoning regulations.
   He pointed out a recent case of speed limits being lowered on two treacherous county roads as a safety precaution. A more reasonable plan would've been to review all the county's roads, and identify areas where speed limits needed to be lowered, he said.
   Whaley said he supported more funding to the volunteer fire departments, and consolidation of government services to improve efficiency.
   "If you support the fire departments, you're really supporting the whole county. If the volunteer fire department has a high service rating, the homeowners in the district will have lower home insurance rates," he said.
   Like most candidates, Whaley was disappointed in the county's economic growth in recent years. He also felt the county had not taken advantage of natural attractions such as Roan Mountain State Park and Watauga Lake to spur growth.
   "I feel like this county has lagged behind some of the other counties to get businesses in here," said Whaley.
   He also said he strongly supported the county's decision to hire a financial director and felt the position should oversee finances for the county's general government and school system.
   "That is something we should've done a long time ago," Whaley added. "The financial director should handle all the finances of the county."
   While he said he did not support building a new county jail, Whaley noted that the creation of a larger jail of around 500 beds to incarcerate more state inmates could earn the county significant dollars for housing state prisoners.
   Money generated by housing state prisoners could fund the capital costs of a new jail facility, he said. The situation of overcrowding would have to be resolved in some way before a federal lawsuit forced the issue, Whaley added.
   "When you get sued for overcrowding, you're going to lose $5 million to $7 million in a federal lawsuit," said Whaley.
   Whaley has served as a deputy with the Carter County Sheriff's Department for almost five years. He previously was the chief of police for the city of Watauga.
   He resides in the Watauga community with his wife, Joan, and their three children.
   "I just feel like there is more that can be done for the citizens of this county," he said.