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Early voting is open and an election will be held on Nov. 5 for Eden city council seats in Wards 1 ,2, 6 and 7. To better inform the public, RockinghamNow invited candidates to fill out a questionnaire detailing their backgrounds, eligibility for public office and goals.

Of the seven Eden candidates registered with the Rockingham County Board of Elections, three responded.

Bernie Moore (Ward 1), Bruce Nooe (Ward 2), Gerald Ellis (Ward 7), and Phil Hunnicutt (Ward 6) did not submit responses.

The following responses are unedited.

Jim Burnette

City Council (Ward 2)

Address: 531 Glovenia Street

Age: 75

Occupation: Retired

Highest degree earned: Master of Science in Chemistry

Leadership experience: Manager of plant of approximately 100 employees, served as the Chairperson of several nonprofit boards, served as Mayor Pro Tem of the Eden City Council for the past six years.

Civic involvement: past board member Eden Chamber of commerce, Founding member and past chairperson of Rockingham County Education Foundation, past board member of Rockingham County Red Cross, past Chairperson of Rockingham County United Way, a SCORE chapter member to assist small business owners, a member of the STRIVE Literacy workgroup for early childhood, past chairperson of Morehead Memorial Hospital board, board member Eden Downtown Development Corporation, Chairperson Eden Family YMCA board, Finance Chair of UNC-Rockingham Health Care Board, Board member Rockingham Health Care Foundation, and Founder and currently one of the advisors of Eden Youth Council.

Contact info:

Home phone: 336-623-3210

Email: Jburnette@edennc.us

What experience qualifies you to serve in this capacity?

As previously stated, I successfully managed a plant of approximately 100 employees with a budget greater than that of the City of Eden. I have served the citizens of Eden since 2007 and was recognized by the Council members by electing me to the position of Mayor Pro Tem for the past six years. My initiatives as a City Council member include the Eden Community Resource Center which helped thousands get employment training and jobs, and creation of the Eden Youth Council which has enabled local students to learn about leadership and community service since 2012. In 2017, I initiated the Eden Strategic Planning process to learn the vision for growth and progress from our citizens. Finally, I was part of the transition of Morehead Memorial Hospital to UNC Rockingham Healthcare which saved our largest employer from closing and saved more than 700 jobs. During my entire tenure on the City Council I have been an advocate for progress for the City but with conservative spending and this has resulted in very good financial results with growth in our General Fund reserves. All of this has been accomplished with the lowest tax rate in Rockingham County.

Why are you seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

During my time on this Board, I have always considered the hard-earned tax money that the citizens provide for the City to operate and voted for the conservative use of those funds. The City has had only one tax increase in 20 years and grants are sought whenever possible so we can keep the lowest tax rate in the County. More than $29 million in grants has been awarded the City in just the last seven years.

My sole purpose in being a member of the Eden City Council is to serve the people of Eden while making Eden a better place to live, work, raise a family and enjoy life. One of the things that I have done to accomplish this is asking the City Council to consider adopting a strategic plan. A strategic plan is a systematic process for gathering information from citizens and using it to establish a long-term direction which is translated into specific goals, objectives and actions for success. The City Council approved this process to develop this plan and it was the first ever to be adopted by any Eden City Council. It is now in the implementation phase. This strategic plan defined the direction with goals for what Eden can do in the next five years to improve and thrive. This plan, appropriately named Positively Eden!, organized the goals and strategies into five areas:

1) Broaden the impact of Downtown Eden

2) Increase Economic Vitality

3) Boost Neighborhood Development

4) Integrate Health and Recreation Opportunities

5) Engage Citizens

This entire plan and the progress that we have accomplished can be viewed on the City Website https://www.edennc.us/ . On this website click on the heading “Positively Eden”.

What are the three most pressing issues facing our community, and how do you propose to address those issues?

Selection of a New City Manager

When Mr. Hartwell Wright from the NC League of Municipalities talked with the City Council on October 8{sup}th{/sup} about the search and selection process for a new City Manager, he stated that probably the most important decision that we would make in our entire tenure as City Council members would be the selection of a City Manager. He outlined a very distinct process for the members of the City Council to follow and that process has begun. The meeting with Mr. Wright was open to citizens, and those in attendance were able to participate.

Jobs

Jobs are always a priority and the recent announcement of 85 new jobs at Gildan Yarns is a step in the right direction. Since MillerCoors sold the Eden facility in December of 2018, we have seen a significant amount of interest, steps made to make the facility more marketable, and large companies considering it. Getting a new company in this facility is our highest priority. But, we cannot look just at Eden for job opportunities. We are in a partnership with the Southern Virginia Mega Site at Berry Hill for water and sewer services, which now has all of the utilities and infrastructure in place and is close to its first announced company locating in the park. Our focus is on Eden and we are working across county and state lines in this regional approach to economic development for the benefit of Eden.

EPA Administrative Order

The City has spent millions of dollars repairing its sewer system because of this mandate from the federal government. We had no choice in the matter; it was either fix the system that had been neglected in the 1990’s or face fines of $37,500 per day. We have to finish this mandate within the next five years. City staff secured millions in grants so water and sewer rates would not have to go up again and they have not been increased since 2016. We continue to seek ways to meet the federal demands without burdening our citizens.

What steps would you take as a member of the City Council to insure that checks and balances are in place for future city administrators? How will you help rebuild citizens’ confidence in city government?

As stated by the Mayor at the September council meeting we plan on enacting several policy changes by the November City Council meeting. I have been a participant in meetings with the FBI and SBI, the NC League of Municipalities and our financial auditors for advice in creating more checks and balances on City Administration. Some of the changes that will be implemented will include instituting and requiring direct deposit of paychecks for all employees and providing a monthly voucher list to all City Council members showing all accounts payable checks that have been written. In addition, there will be a scheduled annual closed session meeting every January for the City Council to review the City Manager’s performance, his or her contract, and annual leave. It is important that this review be done every year so that any new member on the City Council will be made knowledgeable of the contract for the City Manager and his or her overall job performance. We are also enacting a policy that requires City Council to approve all expenditures and reimbursements of the City Manager. All decisions affecting the City Administration will be required to be made by all members of City Council. The citizens of Eden have elected me to three terms on the City Council and I take that responsibility very seriously. I am committed to work with the City Council to adopt these policies and review all policies to ensure the proper oversight of City Administration is in place to prevent any such occurrence again.

Tom Fulton

City Council (Ward 6)

220 E. Stadium Drive

Age: 65

Occupation: Retired trucking industry executive, current Rockingham County School System bus driver.

Highest degree earned: High School Diploma, College Management Training

Leadership experience: Member of the State Employee’s Credit Union Advisory Board, Eden Parks & Recreation official

Civic involvement: Previously ran for Eden City Council, attend current Eden City Council meetings regularly.

Contact info:

Phone: 336-932-5375

Email: tomfulton54@icloud.com

What experience qualifies you to serve in this capacity?

My work as a business executive and time spent in this community qualifies me to serve in this position. Not only did the company I worked for introduce me to this great city, but it also gave me the skills needed to serve it. As a company executive, I oversaw both employees and product, ensuring both got to their destination safely and efficiently. This experience would translate to City Council, where I hope to lead Eden down a new path, with the same consideration of safety and efficiency. Now retired, I work as bus driver and occasionally in home improvement, connecting with everyone from our youth to the elder population. Additionally, I serve on the Advisory Board for the State Employees Credit Union here in Eden.

Why are you seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

I have been actively interested in serving on the Eden City Council for over 12 years, to serve as a voice of the people. I ran for the position previously, but did not win the election. When the Council had to fill the seat for Ward 6 when it was vacated twice, I was not approached despite my previous interest. The council appointed others to the position, including a family member. This is a major part of my campaign, I believe that in the wake of what has happened in Eden, working in City Hall should not be a part of the family tradition. I am running to represent the people of Eden and to serve the people of Eden. I want to put our city first, above any other interests. I have ties with many different parts of our community and want to be a representative of them all. Voters who want a representative that has their best interests in mind should consider voting for me.

What are the three most pressing issues facing your community, and how do you propose to address them?

Creating homeowners incentives: I would like for the city to explore a way to invest in Eden’s housing. Eden has good workforce housing, and we need to make sure that it is kept up, for both the benefit of our existing residents and to attract new ones. I think that creating some kind of incentive for homeowners to improve their homes to keep them safe and welcoming. Focus on community service: I believe that the City should partner with the necessary organizations to coordinate community services in Eden. Local offenders who receive community service should be serving the community they live in, and their efforts should go towards areas of the city that may be overlooked by the CAT team or otherwise needs additional attention.

Renewed Economic Development: I want to be sure that we as a City Council are supporting the Economic Development efforts of the city as much as possible, especially in the Duke Site readiness process for Miller as well as proactive efforts like real estate investments for other industry. Additionally, I would like to see our small business grow as well since they are the recipe for economic growth and industry attraction.

Code Enforcement: I plan to support Code Enforcement with the statutes already in place. Eden has many buildings that have fallen below minimum code requirements. Appearance and safety affect bringing in jobs into Eden.

What steps would you take as a member of the City Council to insure that checks and balances are in place for future city administrators? How will you help rebuild citizens’ confidence in city government?

I want to run the city as a leader elected by the people. I believe City Council needs a clear insight to the administrative side of City Hall, and I want to make sure all City money is spent wisely. I would push to have the financial director for the city give a report at each City Council meeting, in addition to the city manager’s report. Additionally, I would also like to make sure that the city receives an audit on a regular basis. I plan to rebuild confidence by creating more transparency in city government processes with these ideas. Thank you, I hope you will consider voting for me, Tom Fulton in Ward 6. Remember that Eden citizens can vote for all wards.

Lisa Haraway Goldsworthy

City Council (Ward 6)

Address: 426 Palmer Court, Eden NC 27288

Age: 58

Occupation: Project Manager

Highest degree earned: Bachelor of Science, Business Management.

Leadership experience: I have served our Nation through enlistment in the United States Army. Have successfully served local government as an appointed county official including as Chief Deputy Auditor, Land Records Manager, Public Disclosure Officer and Information Services Manager. Additionally, I have lead non-profits in raising funds and awareness to their specific missions including the American Cancer Society, animal welfare, United Way, and programs focused on the economic stability of women.

Civic involvement: I am a member of the Board of Directors and a primary volunteer for Friends of the Eden Animal Shelter. Our small, but mighty, all-volunteer organization is working to place abandoned, abused, stray and surrendered dogs and cats in our community into permanent, loving homes. I’ve been involved with this organization since 2015.

In the past, I have devoted my time to the American Cancer Society, to Battered Women’s Shelters, the Girl Scouts of America, United Way, and Women for Women International.

I have served as a member and as an officer for a local chapter of Soroptimist International — a global organization that provides women and girls with access to education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

I have also served as a member, board director and President for US Army Officer Wives’ Club at several military installations. These non-profit organizations are dedicated to acknowledging outstanding military dependents of any rank within the US Army community by offering financial assistance towards education in any field of their choice.

Contact info: Home phone: 336-635-1280 Email: eden.goldsworthy@gmail.com

What experience qualifies you to serve in this capacity?

I am a result oriented professional with over 40 years of experience working in and with the public sector. I began my career serving our Nation. I join the US Army in 1979 and worked as an Intelligence Analyst within the Army Security Agency. Following my enlistment, I worked with state trade associations and federal contractors. I have served as Chief Deputy Auditor for Thurston County Washington — responsible for the oversight of county elections, vehicle and vessel licensing, land records management and internal financial audit. I managed a multi-million-dollar budget; served as state coordinator for the National Association of Clerks, Recorders and Election Officials; assigned to represent Washington State in the National Property Records Education Partners program; and implemented the State’s first electronic document recording environment.

I was appointed as Administrative Services Manager for Snohomish County Washington where I served as the liaison between all County Departments and Divisions in the areas of public records compliance, budget, planning, organizing the operations and management of the Department of Information Services. I again managed a multi-million dollar budget; facilitated the formation and execution of e-business strategies and plans; and, implemented Washington State’s first automated indexing environment; and, served as served as the County’s Public Records Officer which included testifying before legislative bodies and federal courts regarding the freedom of information act.{p class=”ResNormal”}In my current role, I am a project manager within the private sector, delivering intelligent automation to government. I am responsible for the overall direction, coordination, implementation, execution, control and completion of electronic judicial bench projects, ensuring consistency with company strategy, commitments and goals.{p class=”ResNormal”}I am a recognized agent of change. I have the skill set to work with all stakeholders, leadership and staff to establish and maintain a culture of accountability. I am an effective leader with strong interpersonal, communication, analytical and problem-solving skills. I am a champion for governance principles. I bring extensive experience building stakeholder relationships, facilitating communication between clients, management and technical personnel, problem resolution, and team building. My experience makes me an ideal candidate for city council to coordinate efforts to improve the quality of life of the citizens the City of Eden.

What are you seeking this office and why should voters elect you?

I am seeking this office because I have served every community in which I have ever lived. I am, in my heart of hearts, a steward. A public servant. I began my career in the US Army — in 1979, serving our Nation. I’ve worked primarily in local government — at the County level throughout most of my career serving local citizens. I want to make a difference in my own backyard.

To the voters, I bring passion and compassion as well as a rational understanding of how local government should interact with its constituents and businesses. I can think of no higher honor than to serve the citizens of Eden.

Our City has changed gradually, but drastically since I graduated from Morehead High School in 1979. I want to help return Eden to a thriving community. I believe Eden can become a city in which other cities come to learn. Anything worth fighting for is not easy and that is precisely the reason I want to give back. Anyone can take the path of least resistance. It takes a person with a proven track record in government and an extreme work ethic to affect the change the citizens of Eden need. I am that person and the reason voters should entrust their precious vote to me.

What are the three most pressing issues facing your community. And how do you propose to address them?

The City of Eden needs to be rebranded and the City must invest in itself to generate new growth. This effort must be led by the City Council to create a safe, equitable, and sustainable Eden. Our most pressing issues:

  1. Eliminate drugs and dealers. Drug use is not a victimless crime. Most residents and law enforcement officers have seen the overdosed victims, the worried looks on parents’ faces. We have all seen the deterioration of our neighborhoods. Neighborhood deterioration has created an environment suitable not only for drug dealing, but also burglaries, robberies, and more. I will propose and support policies and budgets that ensure adequate staffing and legislative compliance that will provide Eden’s citizens with assurance that their physical, environmental, and emotional safety and security are top priorities. Drug and dealers are one of the greatest deterrents to developing Eden’s economy. Our entire community — elected officials, law enforcement and citizens alike — must work together to scare off buyers; slow the dealer’s business; and make the area unwelcome for them.

Code Enforcement: I propose and support aggressively, but sensibly, bringing both commercial and residential property owners into code compliance — including building, property maintenance, and existing/vacant building code. Code enforcement is a critical element in fighting our City’s decline, preserving sound neighborhoods and restoring distressed areas. Code enforcement also plays a vital role to our first responders in protecting our city and stabilizing property conditions. While property owners often think that the way they take care of their property is their own business, the major impact that neighboring properties have on one another’s value and enjoyment means that building maintenance and safety becomes the business of everyone in the city. Code enforcement can help local identify, halt and reverse the negative impact of vacant, abandoned and problem properties. Creating a vibrant, clean and safe city is vital to attracting new business, investors, residents and visitors to Eden which will bring new dollars into our economy.

  1. Local Business Promotion, Recognition and Support: We, as a City, must protect the investment local businesses have made in our City and the Council members must champion the effort. Local businesses are our greatest asset and play a central role in the health of our community. They are the best engines we have for advancing economic opportunity. Without our support, businesses will close or relocate and that is everyone’s loss, especially the City of Eden.

What steps would you take as a member of the City Council to insure that checks and balances are in place for future city administrators? How will you help rebuild citizens’ confidence in city government?

One of the first steps I would take a Council member would be to ensure fiscal policies and procedures are in place, including policies on record-retention, conflict of interest and whistle-blower protection. The absence of internal controls or lack of clarity places the City at high risk for mismanagement.

From employees who order inventory, write checks, deposit monies, review time sheets to reconciling cash to receipts, it is imperative to the City Council implement checks and balances to reduce mistakes, prevent improper behavior, and to decrease the risk of centralization of power. This will also ensure that no one person including our City Administrator/Manager or department head, has absolute control over decisions, will clearly define assigned duties, and force cooperation in completing tasks and will be instrumental in regaining the confidence lost in the City Council from the recent embezzlement by the City Manager.

To ensure no one person has control over all parts of the City’s financial transactions — I would propose the City Council implement checks and balances that include requiring purchases, payroll and other disbursements be authorized by a designated person; separate the handing of receipts and deposits; separate purchasing functions from payables; require all checks be endorsed ‘For Deposit Only’; require supervisors approve employee time sheets before payroll is prepared; require paychecks be distributed by a person other than the one authorizing or preparing payroll checks; require accounting department employees take vacations; and implement technology for the purpose time and expense tracking.

By way of monthly City Hall meetings, I would propose the City report actual spending compared to budgeted spending, including the report of any discrepancy between the two. The presentation of accurate balance sheets, cash flow statements, budget comparison reports with management narrative highlighting significant areas to the citizens is crucial to regaining their trust.

Our City is a business and it is the Council’s responsibility to ensure our citizens their tax dollars are utilized only for the benefit of them and never for the profit of a single person or persons. For that, we need both periodic internal and external audits of City finances. This will aid the Council and our citizens in understanding our financial health and standing. It will also help the Council spot any thefts or frauds taking place at the City.

These measures will help the Council in regaining the trust and confidence of the citizens of Eden.

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