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Edds talks education, jobs in commission candidacy announcement

SALISBURY — Education. Crime. Jobs.
County commission candidate Greg Edds targeted the three issues during a candidacy announcement on the steps of the County Administration Building on Wednesday.
And improving those issues, the former chairman of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce said, could ease tense relations between school, county and city officials.
Nearly 50 supporters gathered around a podium at the steps of 130 W. Innes St., some brandishing red and blue campaign signs, as the 50-year-old spoke about his vision for the county.
“Here’s my promise,” Edds told the crowd. “Bring the same old, tired arguments and ideas and excuses and I will show little patience or interest. Show us bold, show us aggressive and show us brave and I will move heaven and earth to help, and you know that this community will follow.”
Alongside the former Rowan County Republican Party chairman was Edds’ wife, Kim.
Members of the audience included Salisbury City Council member Brian Miller, Rowan County Commissioner Craig Pierce and other family and friends.
One of Edds’ most involved talking points was the need for better education — an issue that he said will bring more jobs to the county, too.
“Can I be honest with you? Honestly, I don’t have all the answers. But here’s what I do know — I have a deep respect for our educators. They do one of the jobs that I could never, ever do. They are real local heroes in my opinion,” Edds said.
“Here’s the deal: It’s time to do something bold. It’s time to do revolutionary and so aggressive that everyone involved will say, ‘Hey, we can’t do that.’
“And here’s my personal litmus test — for education, if everyone isn’t saying ‘we can’t do that,’ then it’s not bold enough and we need to start over,” he said. “Our community is jam-packed full of visionaries. Don’t tell me that we can’t aggressively attack our education challenges. Our community should and could do something so out-of-the-box that the rest of the country will want to climb out of the box just to see what we’re doing.”
Edds is the first official challenger in the upcoming county commission race.
Commissioners Jim Sides, Jon Barber and Chad Mitchell are up for re-election in 2014, but Mitchell has said he will not run again.
Edds also spoke about the need for increased law enforcement support and the effects such improvement could have on the county’s economic development.
“For all of us who hate, for all of us that loathe tax incentives, myself included, I will promise you this: if we show prospects what a world-class education system looks like and make sure that our streets are safe, we won’t have to be begging companies to come here, they’ll beg us,” Edds said. “Tax incentives are a bribe for companies to come here despite our weaknesses. It’s embarrassing, frankly. We’ve got to make tax incentives irrelevant for a company’s decision to move here.”
The announcement began about 1 p.m. and lasted roughly 45 minutes.
After the speech, Edds told the Post he didn’t want to get into the central office debate.
“Not even going to talk about it. That’s not one of the issues that’s, ya know, putting a strain on our economy,” Edds said. “Those guys, those boards — the school board and the county commission — are tasked with coming up with a solution to this longterm problem and it’ll be up to them to determine. That will be long decided before I ever get into office and we need to figure out how we can start moving our education system into one that is second to none. It has got to be one of our economic incentives.”
When asked about the Salisbury Mall purchase, Edds said the deal needs more transparency.
“I think the county commission needs to lay out what their plans are, what their vision is for the mall. Right now, with the lack of information, it leaves a lot of folks with the opportunity to make up their own scenarios in their mind of why things are being done this way,” he said. “My hope is that a very clear plan will be articulated, one that the whole community can get behind. With lack of information, it leaves itself open for demagoguery.”

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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