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Jim Sides: Leading board of commissioners

SALISBURY — Jim Sides isn’t one to shy away from controversy.

He says that’s not going to change now that he’s chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. But Sides acknowledges that his new role will be a bit different, and he’ll sometimes be speaking for not only the board but the county itself.

Sides, 64, is starting the third year of his second term as a county commissioner. He has been a polarizing figure at times, openly criticizing the leaders of the Rowan County Rescue Squad, Rowan-Salisbury Schools and the city of Salisbury.

Sides says he works hard to serve all the people of the county, not just “special interest groups,” and he intends to do the same thing as chairman.

After November’s election, he leads an all-Republican board where he may be more likely to agree with the majority of commissioners. Starting in January, they’ll take up hot-button issues like the schools’ proposed central office and next year’s budget.

— Karissa Minn

Reaction to being named?
“I don’t know that I’m probably the best choice.”

Who will you watch in 2013?
The other two newly elected commissioners, Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey, because he knows the least about what they will do on the board.

Also, new state representative Carl Ford and the new members of the N.C. House and Senate.

Your biggest challenge in 2013?“Being chairman is pretty much a challenge,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge in a lot of different respects, because I’m not only the face of the commission, I’m the face of the community.”

Your biggest hope for 2013?“I would like to see the economy recover to the point where nobody is worried about money – where everybody would have everything they wanted and needed – but I don’t foresee that happening,” he said. “Things are still going to be tight. I think local government is still going to have to be responsive to the citizens they serve, and I don’t think that’s going to change.”

Dream date?“I had my dream date 47 years ago when I met my wife.”

Favorite TV show?“I don’t know that I have a favorite TV show. I don’t watch that much TV, I stick to books and papers.”

Your last meal?“Steak and potatoes.”

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