Name as it appears on the ballot: Brian Bock
Date of birth: May 8, 1965
Campaign web site: www.electbock.com
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing Chatham County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
In talking with hundreds of people throughout the county, it is obvious that jobs and the economy are the number one issue on people's minds. This is followed very closely by protecting property rights and responsible spending. In reality all of the issues are intertwined and all affect each other.
Creating an environment that fosters job growth and job retention will be my top priority. We can do this by allowing market forces to determine which businesses locate to Chatham and which thrive. Focusing on a narrow group of industries, that our current commissioners have deemed appropriate, severely restricts job opportunities for our residents. We need to streamline the bureaucracy and red tape required to open and operate a business. Our actions need to match our words when we say that we want to have a community where our citizens can live and work.
We must aggressively protect private property rights. Our government has no right to take the value of a citizen's property through unreasonable, over-reaching land use ordinances without just compensation. I would immediately work to scrap the major corridor ordinance currently being promoted. This one ordinance shifts 23,000 acres of private property to government control, with no compensation to land owners. Additionally, we need to ensure that Chatham maintains its sovereignty by not allowing surrounding cities to dictate how we use our land.
Finally, we have to get our spending under control. Over the past 7 years our spending has increased at nearly 6 times our population growth rate. A government that spends and grows faster than; personal incomes, job growth, and it's tax base cannot be said to be sustainable. We need to build a sustainable community by spending less than we take in and by spending at a rate that doesn't require us to raise property tax rates.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Chatham County Commission? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have worked in the private sector studying economics for nearly 18 years, and served in the U.S. Navy and Navy reserve for 20 years. I was fortunate to travel our country and the world seeing, first hand, different economic systems and various levels of government intervention. I know how government's economic decisions can destroy wealth creation and jobs or foster an environment which promotes them. One underlying theme is that economies thrive when government sticks to its core functions and does not micromanage or over regulate. The free market is much more efficient than a bureaucracy.
I've served as president of my local Jaycees chapter, chairman of our county republican party, lead volunteer groups working on downtown revitalization, volunteered with relay for life and habitat for humanity. Each group offered new learning experiences that have enabled me to work with and motivate people from across the political spectrum to accomplish goals. These skills will be vital in governing in a county where 50% of its population is registered democrat and the other 50% are split between republican and unaffiliated.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I define myself as a fiscal conservative, a true believer in smaller government, and as someone who believes the constitution and Bill of Rights are as relevant today as when first written. These documents set us apart from the world because they spell out the rights of people. They clearly state that we have basic rights given to us by God not by government. These documents protect the people from the government not the other way around. We must always make our decisions in a way that protects our rights over expanding governmental power.
4. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I would work to ensure that we had a just community by fighting to ensure that; 1) public policy be based on mutual respect and justice for all people, free from discrimination or bias. 2) That all citizens regardless of political affiliation, race, or economic situation, are allowed and encouraged to be involved in decision-making at all levels including; needs assessment, planning and implementation.
5. What specific steps should the county commissioners take to preserve and protect Chatham's environment and natural resources? What do you feel needs updating in Chatham County's land conservation and development plan? State specific initiatives or policies you would introduce and support to accomplish these updates.
We need to be very careful to ensure that we strike a healthy balance between protecting the natural rural beauty of Chatham and the proper amount of infrastructure. Just as important, we need to ensure that actions taken will have the stated result rather than just the appearance of protecting our resources. As these plans are developed, commissioners need to remember that in many cases they are affecting private property. In the name of social justice and common sense, affected landowners need to be involved in developing the policies and if decisions have a negative impact on landowners, those landowners need to be justly compensated.
6. Define "economic development." What does that term mean to you? Do you believe Chatham County heavily relies on property taxes? How would you grow the economy and agricultural possibilities to lessen that reliance without focusing entirely on residential development? What specifically can you do as a county leader to strengthen and support Chatham's economy? How would you work to bring new businesses and jobs to Chatham County?
To bring new business to Chatham we first need to be welcoming. Talk to almost any business owner or potential business owner in the county and you hear how unfriendly we are to business. We need to welcome more types of businesses and industry to our county. The business owners regularly tell me that in addition to the unfriendly atmosphere they face, the bureaucracy is killing them. Time is as important as cost when trying to start a new business up. We need to streamline the process and cut down the time needed to open. When our regulations constantly change and overreach we create an environment of un-certainty causing potential business owners to re-consider our county and look elsewhere. Chatham County, under the current leadership, spent over $300,000 in legal fees in 2009. The lion's share of which was spent rewriting ordinances and other planning expenses restricting business activity and private property rights. Let's spend our time and effort on becoming more efficient, more cost effective, friendlier, and more welcoming?
7. In light of the recent Transportation Advisory Board formation and the efforts of Chatham County to create transportation options for its constituents, what are your ideas in increasing mobility while reducing energy and improving air-quality? Does Chatham County need more public transit options and not just buses but walkability and bikability?
We certainly need a more coherent plan for roads, bridges, walkways and bike paths in Chatham County. We do need bike paths along major corridors where bikes are now frequently used, and are starting to become a road hazard; this trend will most likely continue. The most cost effective way to do this is during expansions, like the expansion of 15-501 a couple years ago, unfortunately, this was a missed opportunity. Public transportation works best in densely populated area. Chatham is mostly rural. We should not on the one hand work to stay rural and on other attempt to build a mass transit system as if we were urban. We cannot afford more absurd boondoggles like the Pittsboro-Chapel Hill Bus, Chatham Taxpayers pay for their own personal transportation, but are now forced to pay for transportation for a handful of people who commute to Chapel Hill from Pittsboro and Back. For this handful of people, and one bus, we are paying for Drivers, Maintenance, Gas (Local Bio-Diesel), and a Transportation Director. We do need a real transportation plan for Chatham's citizens; the current one is an expensive farce.
8. If the NCDOT approves a freeway in the US 64 corridor what will your goals be in taking action against or for changes that will affect constituents and business owners along the corridor?
Our actions must be governed by what is best for constituents and business owners. Any action taken will be based largely on the actual participation of the affected businesses and landowners. We'll have to examine closely how an action from the NCDOT such as this can be a positive for the county and for our economic development.
9. What are you thoughts on broadband access for Chatham County? What are the benefits or lack of? And how would you work to see that access brought to Chatham County?
Chatham County must work hard to ensure that Broadband providers (which today include DSL, Cable, Satellite, Cell, and other technologies on the way) don't have excessive regulatory obstructions in their way when they plan and implement expansions to their networks, this keeps the cost of access much lower than in an environment where regulations are so burdensome that many businesses will not even consider locating, much less expanding, within Chatham County. We must also ensure that our County does not play favorites with one technology over another, one company over another. Competition brings progress, not central planning.
10. Chatham County has specific infrastructures that must be improved in the next few years. How will you plan for the future as a commissioner (through grants and federal funding) to see that the County Seat of Pittsboro builds needed infrastructures like a new jail and courthouse?
This ties directly into our spending decisions. We need to take a hard look at our priorities in all spending. We should continue to seek grants and federal funding for large projects such as the ones mentioned in the question. That isn't enough though. If we take our government back to its core activities and reduce spending on unnecessary projects or those that the private sector should handle, we could pay for needed infrastructure. I would not support a property tax increase to pay for these projects.
11. What will your goals be as commissioner in redrawing BOC and BOE districts to equal population representatives when the 2010 Census data is released. Given that population growth has occurred in Districts 1 and District 2, what are your concerns in redrawing equal districts that will reflect continued growth?
This is a topic that needs much more attention than it gets. How the districts are drawn have a profound affect on our ability to represent our citizens. Districts need to be drawn in such a way as to truly represent an area rather than for political election purposes. Voter political affiliation numbers should have no role. I support the BOEs request to have the districts match the BOC districts.
12. There has been talk of going to a seven-commissioner board with two commissioners being at large. Would you support that decision? If not, why? Do you think that north and east Chatham County needs more representation?
I strongly support the idea of voting by district to elect our commissioners. Our current system has resulted in citizens in the western part of the county feeling completely left out. I'm told over and over by those who live west of Pittsboro that their vote no longer matters due to the at-large voting system. I also support expanding the board to more members. Over the years our population has grown, so the number of representatives should expand as well. I support the idea of 5 members being elected by citizens of their district and 2 being voted on by all citizens. The other viable option is to increase the number of districts to reflect the larger population. In either case, having district representation with at-large voting is causing un-wanted distortions in our ability to self-govern.
13. Please state your general philosophy on what role citizens should play in government decision-making. In general, do you think Chatham residents have enough opportunities to make their voices heard? If so, state some examples. If not, what are your ideas for improving and incorporating citizen input in county government decisions?
The authority for government to exist comes from its citizens, but without their active participation, government tends to act for the personal preferences of its current leaders and not for its owners, the citizens. We must make every possible effort to inform and include our fellow citizens in our government's decision-making process. Chatham has made progress in being more open and transparent but when it comes to the most controversial topics openness somehow gets lost.
The best way for citizens to be involved is for them to be fully educated on the issues. Commissioners need to make it as easy as possible for citizens to get information. To do that, all resolutions need to be posted on the website prior to approval, referendums should only be on the ballot during a regular election, the entire line item budget needs to be posted on-line, all advisory board and BOC meetings should be held during non-working hours to ensure more public involvement. Anything that needs public input should be posted on-line a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the BOC input session.
14. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take even though it cost you popularity points with constituents.
Almost every decision made by an elected official can and will cost popularity among some portion of their constituents. That is why every decision needs to be based on principle rather than the affect it will have on popularity or reelection possibility.