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Commissioner candidates take questions from Realtors

SALISBURY — Members of the Salisbury/Rowan Association of Realtors heard from Rowan County commissioner candidates Tuesday at Salisbury Country Club.

Candidates Greg Edds, Jim Greene, Judy Klusman, Veleria Levy and Latasha Wilks answered questions on crime, water and sewer service, economic development, the renewal school district plan, West End Plaza and High Rock Lake.

Levy stressed the importance of these issues for the real estate community, especially education.

“Everyone knows that it is so important to have a good education system to be able to sell property,” Levy said. “People do not want to move their families to an area where there children cannot receive a good education.”

Edds said the work of the commissioners directly affects Realtors.

“People demand to be in a neighborhood where there’s a good school,” Edds said. “Good schools drive demand in certain communities. What we do from an economic standpoint of bringing jobs and opportunities drives demand, and then demand will drive supply.”

Wilks spoke about the need for initiatives to help the economy, including vocational opportunities, financial literacy programs and increasing the minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage, making that family more independent so they will not have to rely on governmental services,” Wilks said. “Bringing jobs to Rowan County that are aligned with local colleges, giving corporations tax incentives.”

Klusman boasted about the economic development in Rowan County that has happened during her term and said she expects to keep the tax rate low.

“A lot has happened in these last four years,” Klusman said. “Our economic development has just exploded. We’ve been able to hold taxes down to our current rate of 0.6625, and I believe my fellow commissioners and I are all dedicated to keeping the tax rate low. Hopefully in the next five to 10 years, we’ll have enough economic development that we can start to lower our taxes.”

Levy advocated for raising taxes to improve the water and sewer systems.

“Your people don’t just want to be down the I-85 corridor; they like to have the opportunity to be throughout the county,” Levy said. “We need to take a really hard look at that and try to determine is it that important to keep taxes lower or is it more important to start looking at how we grow our county, and that may just be increasing taxes. I know being the Democrat in the room, people will say, ‘Of course you would say to increase taxes.’”

Greene said the county needs to begin looking toward the future and responding to the growth in Charlotte that will soon impact Rowan County.

“We’re going to have to plan what we want Salisbury to look like,” Greene said. “If you go to Cabarrus County and you can see there’s not even a square inch down there that doesn’t have a building on it of some sort. We’re going to have to do some long-term planning up here, and we need you folks to be a part when we do that.”

Edds said with the renewal school district, the county can lead the way in the state.

“It’s not that we were the worst; it’s that we have the most potential,” Edds said. “We can write our own story on the renewal system in the whole state. Frankly, the whole state is looking at Rowan County to see what it does.”

Greene talked about the progress the current commissioners have made in the past four years.

“When we were elected, one of the things that all three of us preached was that we were going to bring civility back to this county,” he said. “We had cities fighting with county government and cities fighting with cities. It was atrocious, quite honestly. I’m very proud of the fact that we came in and we feel like that has improved quite a bit.”

Levy said the commissioners need to do more work, and that’s why she is running.

“What you’re seeing here is a group of commissioners that have done a fabulous job in restoring the sanity in our county,” Levy said. “We can all applaud them on that. But what we’re looking at is four more years of a promise. As brokers, as Realtors, you all have land and homes you need to sell today, not two years from now, not three years from now, not four years from now.”

Association President Mary Arey concluded the program by saying, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”

The next membership meeting for the Association of Realtors is at 11 a.m. Nov. 6.

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