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2020 Election

Primary candidate profiles: Donnie Boyd and Robert Way

Newcomer Democrats seek District 5 seat on Granville County Board of Commissioners

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Two seats on the Granville County Board of Commissioners are contested this year. Democrats are holding primaries in both District 1 (which covers northwestern Granville County) and District 5 (Wilton and eastern Creedmoor).

In District 1, former Commissioner N. Annette Parham Myers is challenging incumbent Zelodis Jay for the Democratic nomination. There is no Republican running, so the primary winner will be seated. (Read those candidate profiles here.)

District 5 incumbent Owen Roberts is not running for a second term and Democrats Donnie Boyd and Robert Way are running for his seat. The primary winner run against Republican Russ May in November.

The Butner-Creedmoor News asked each primary candidate the same questions on jobs, education and budgeting. Their answers were lightly edited for grammar and style.

Early voting is now underway and continues until Feb. 29. The primary election will be March 3.

What is your background and how will that make you a good fit to be on the board of commissioners?

BOYD: I worked for Granville County for 28 years, most recently as the fire marshal and assistant emergency management director. Prior to that I was the director of EMS. I am now retired. I also filled in when needed in the building inspections department and 911 center.

Part of my responsibilities as fire marshal were fire inspections and building plan review for all business and industries in the county. I have an extensive knowledge of how the many departments must work collaboratively to ensure successful running of the county government.

I was elected to and served 12 years on the Granville County Board of Education. This included serving a year as chairman and vice chairman. Being a member of this board I gained valuable experience in budget process, construction projects and addressing issues and concerns brought to me by citizens.

I currently serve as the president of the board for Granville County United Way. The mission of this organization has made me aware of various areas of need and opportunity for improvement all around our county.

My experience will serve to aid me in the endeavor of representing the citizens of the county to ensure Granville County is a place people want to live, work, and play.

WAY: I have been in the public safety field since the age of 15 when I became a junior firefighter. Over the years I have gradually increased my experience in the emergency services area.

I have been deployed and assisted in recovery efforts during and after major events and was able to assist in planning and guiding resources. I feel that my experiences in emergency response is a valuable quality to bring into the office as it can relate to the safety of the community.

Having held management positions, I have had the opportunity to be involved in budgets and planning for growth. I feel that my previous management experience and time spent in emergency services will be a valuable resource to understand and help in planning for our community.

What should the county do to create job growth and opportunities for residents in Granville County?

BOYD: In order to grow the job market in this county we must be competitive with incentives to attract and retain businesses and industries that offer a variety of career opportunities for Granville County citizens.

We need to ensure there are opportunities ranging from entry-level to professional and technological jobs. We cannot afford to shy away from an aggressive effort to draw these employers into our county to give the citizens an opportunity to work where they live.

Thriving industry will translate into more small business opportunity and success.

WAY: As a whole, we need to look at which businesses would be a great fit into the county. We should work with economic development staff to bring in potential business that could thrive in Granville County.

With quick access to the Triangle and points north and south on Interstate 85, Granville County would be a prime location for businesses that deal with online shopping such as Amazon.

I would also look at the feasibility in proposing a half-cent tax increase on food and beverage to help with funding the economic development department to seek prospective businesses that could relocate to Granville County.

We would also need to look at how to help existing businesses in the county by keeping them planted here and thriving.

Public school enrollment is down in the face of competition from private and charter schools. How would you support the public school system and what considerations would you have when reviewing the school district’s budget?

BOYD: As a former school board member, I know this issue is one we have been addressing for several years.

My No. 1 consideration for the school board’s budget is to ensure teachers receive competitive compensation and annual increases in order to retain quality teachers in the public school system.

We also need to listen to ideas and concerns of those who have a vested interest in the school system, students, teachers and parents. The school board and board of commissioners should meet quarterly to discuss and evaluate strategic initiatives.

It is important to also continue to foster partnerships with corporations who can grant technology and other opportunities for our students. The public school system should grow vocational training programs in skilled trades, as these job opportunities are predicted to increase in the future.

WAY: The county commissioners should leave the school enrollment to the school board. It would not be our place as county commissioners to speak on school matters, as there is an elected board to handle those situations.

If asked, then I feel it would be best to survey the families that left public schools to see why, what is being missed and what could have been done differently to keep them enrolled.

The county commissioners could meet with the school board to discuss needs and wants and come to a better understanding of how to work together. With two different boards elected by the citizens to basically discuss how to fund the schools, it would be great for the two to come up with priority funding requests together as it relates to county funds.

While in a perfect world every request would be a priority, school safety and building repairs/renovations are at the top of my list.

I would like to look into a greater partnership with Vance-Granville Community College to bring courses such as firefighter and EMT certifications that high school students can achieve on graduation to place first responders in the workforce. We should look at also having them assist with trade job qualifications as welding and mechanics.

What state and federal resources should Granville County seek to better its residents and businesses?

BOYD: Our county should continue to apply for grants and funding from state and federal sources to improve infrastructure, economic development, and public safety, as long as these grants are economically feasible in relation to what they are applied.

The resources should benefit the citizens of the county in tangible ways. We have to find means to promote responsible growth for Granville County that ensures its citizens’ job opportunities, safe communities, and a quality public school system.

WAY: Granville County should have someone on staff with a primary function that would be to seek out and apply for grants. A few of the grants available are from the Small Business, Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

With funding resources from grants like these, equipment and staffing could be obtained to better serve the citizens and businesses of Granville County.

As I am always learning, this would definitely be a topic for future knowledge growth. We should be able to reach out to our state and federal partners for assistance at any time for guidance and help.

What other issues are important to you and how would you address them if elected?

BOYD: One issue I see as important for our county is transitioning to paid firefighters in volunteer fire departments countywide during daytime hours.

Response times would be improved, resulting in lowering property loss and increasing safety of citizens. We no longer have communities full of farmers and others who are available during working hours to respond to calls.

We also need to collaborate with the N.C. State Firefighters’ Association to provide incentives to attract more volunteers to join our fire departments.

As a county commissioner, I will work diligently to ensure the interests of the people of our county are represented in all decisions.

WAY: Growth. Granville County is now and will continue to deal with growth.

The county will need to evaluate and act on the needs of the growing community which will include services. We are dealing with an increased need for medical care, from initial encounters from Granville EMS to urgent/primary care providers.

As we see the new families moving in, these already-strained resources will continue to suffer without expansion. Granville County needs to focus on working with Granville Health to increase staffing to add peak time trucks.

A satellite office for social services in Creedmoor would help facilitate residents with limited transportation and assist with filing for services needed. S

Social services is a huge assistance to those that need it. We have an ever-growing population of elderly and single parents that need assistance.

We need to make sure that the county is meeting the needs requested but also making sure those that request it are in need. There should be checks done on the same to make sure no one is taking advantage of the system. We all have paid into the funds used to help each other, and trust me, at some point in life everyone needs a hand up.

Look at the current caseload and adjust staffing projections based on the need. Too often these staff members do not get the same kudos as others but they are on the frontlines having to make sure that children eat, adults get assistance when needed and elderly have heat and cooling capabilities.