King residents will have a choice of four candidates for two city council seats when they go to the polls on Nov. 7.
Incumbents Charles Allen and Wesley Carter are facing two challengers, Steven Hewett and Ashley Turner.
The Stokes News sent each of the candidates a list of questions concerning their thoughts for the future of the city. The questions and the candidate’s unedited responses are printed below.
– Please provide a history of your public service including any boards or councils you have served on and any subcommittees you have served on.
Allen – Past Board of Directors of King Volunteer Fire Department and 20 years as a volunteer fireman, and then last eight years on King City Council.
Carter – From 2003-2007 I served in the United States Marine Corps, including time in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have had the privilege of serving on the King City Council for the past 8 years.
Hewett – I served as the North Carolina State Chairman for the Amateur Athletic Union National Karate Program 1984-87 where I organized and managed the state championships and coached the state youth team to the National Competitions. During this time the NC AAU Karate Youth Team won several national titles and gold medals. I am currently an AAU National Karate Judge with a Class C license. This year I coached our local team from King, where we advanced to the AAU National Championships in Raleigh, NC, bringing home another National Gold Medalist and Silver Medalist. I served as the Chairman of the Karate competition for the Tar Hill State Games 1986-87 where I organized and managed the state games in Charlotte, NC. From 1990-1997 I served the public as a law enforcement officer. In 1999 I returned to a previous career path with the Department of Defense, retiring in 2005.
Turner – I co-own a local business where we have been involved in giving back to the community through schools, children, animals and several local organizations for nearly a decade. I serve on the City of King Parks & Rec Committee and the MADIK board.
– How long have you lived in King? Are you involved in any civic organizations or church groups? If so, which ones?
Allen – Lived in King a total of 28 years. Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church Council and UMM.
Carter – I have lived in King my entire life. I am an active member of Calvary Baptist Church in King where I am an assistant Sunday school teacher. I also serve as the athletic director of Calvary Christian School in King, including coaching Varsity Boys basketball.
Hewett – I’ve lived in King for almost 20 years. It is here where I met my wife, who has since retired as a teacher in the Stokes County School System. My father was career Air Force, which gave me the opportunity to live all over the United States. I entered that US Army in 1975 and was stationed at several military bases in the US and Germany. In 2003 I was deployed with the NC National Guard to Afghanistan where I received a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for my service at Forward Operation Base Salerno. Living across this country and overseas, has brought me insight into just how lucky we are to live in our country and community.
I assisted in the building of the new playground at King Recreation Acres, which was envisioned and organized by Ashley Turner, MADIK (Make a Difference in King). I was there every day building the playground and some days I was putting in 12-14 hours. This will be a great addition to the community and a wonderful gift to our children.
Over the last several years I have been a member of American Legion Post 290, and I am a Life Member of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). I’m a past President of FACT (Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers). I’m also a community activist, advocating for our Constitutional rights of freedom of religion and speech.
My actions throughout my life show a lifelong dedication to defending the Constitution and to making your community a safe and great place for everyone, and I intend to continue these efforts as an elected representative.
Turner – I grew up in King and attended King Primary, King Intermediate, Chestnut Grove, South Stokes and first graduating class at West Stokes. Most people could find me on a softball field or hay field. I learned at an early age that hard work, determination and teamwork are essential keys to success.
I currently live in the city limits with my husband of 14 years and our two children. I am the photographer of A Photo by Ashley and co-owner of White Rust Photography, located in downtown King.
My youngest son is currently enrolled in our local YMCA soccer program. My oldest son plays ice hockey so we spend a lot of our time with the families of the Triad Hockey Association.
I also spearheaded the all-inclusive playground project and formed the MADIK nonprofit where I still serve as Chair on that board.
I look forward to joining Rotary Club of King in 2018.
– What do you consider to be the best assets / skills / experience you will bring to the table if elected?
Allen – I will listen to the people and remain conservative.
Carter – Leadership. As a financial advisor for Edward Jones, managing a local business in King has allowed me to work with individuals and business owners in our community. This has allowed me to interact with people from all walks of life which has given me great insight into what is important to and for our citizens. I understand the responsibilities and challenges our city faces.
Hewett – I have a grounded work ethic and strong organizational skills, which are evident in organizing the NC State Championships. During my service at Forward Operation Base Salerno, Afghanistan, I assisted in building and maintaining the infrastructure of the base, along with preforming my duties in maintaining the AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters and assisting with maintenance on the UH-60 Medevac Helicopters. My life experiences while a law enforcement officer, my military experience and owning two businesses bring to the table assets and skills that I possess to help in the needs of our community!
My work ethic began as an eight year old, delivering newspapers every day of the week on my bike and mowing yards to earn money. Even at this early age, I received recognition from the Sedalia Democrat by being awarded Newspaper Carrier of the Year. This work ethic laid the groundwork to excel in whatever I have set my mind to do. Early in my military career, I received the Distinguished Graduate Award and was awarded a promotion at my graduation from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) while stationed at Ft. Ord, CA. I was then stationed with the 2nd Armored Division at Ft. Hood, TX., again receiving a fast track promotion and other recognitions by the command. Following Ft. Hood, I was stationed with 1st/41st Field Artillery (Pershing Missile Unit) at Bismarck Kaserne in Schwabisch Gmund, Germany, receiving more accolades from my commanders. While serving with the North Carolina Nation Guard’s
1st/130th Aviation Attack Battalion attached to the 10th Mountain Division I was deployed to Afghanistan shortly after 9/11, where I received a Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge for my actions at FOB Salerno.
I currently own and operate two businesses in King. One a successful award winning karate school, and the other is a law publication I write for our state’s law enforcement officers. These successful business skills and experiences will assist me in working with other council members to balance our budget as well as prepare the city for the future.
Turner – I am open minded and I am the new change that King needs. I am very passionate about the community needs. I am a parent, local business owner and an individual that truly sees the potential that King has.
– What do you see as the three biggest issues facing King during the next term? How do you propose those issues be addressed?
Allen – Waste Water Treatment plant / Build a new plant, Jobs / Study economic possibilities, Drugs / Education and treatment.
Carter – We live in a great community, but there is always room for improvement. The single biggest issue, in my opinion, is our high sewer rates. This is an issue that myself and the council have addressed. We are currently working toward building our own waste water plant. This would allow us to manage our own rates, which are currently controlled by the City of Winston-Salem. Another issue very personal to me is public safety and well-being. We have worked hard to strengthen our fire and police departments. I believe these departments are extremely important to our growing city, and I am willing to support the needed investment in those areas. Lastly, I believe the city is poised for ongoing economic growth and development. We must build on the momentum achieved already while focusing on job creation in the future.
Hewett – King is going through growing pains. While we want to keep that small town feel, our community is expanding rapidly with new housing and apartment developments. This puts a strain on the city budget and on the limited services we currently operate.
1) Our police department is understaffed and the officers overworked. As a former officer myself I know what these men and women face each and every day. I’ve also heard from people in our community that want to know why it takes, in some cases, anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour for an officer to respond to a call. The answer is simple, more officers allow faster response time and more proactive patrolling. Our current council cut positions a few years ago resulting in two lawsuits by former officers, while at the same time knowing we needed to hire more officers to protect the city and citizens. We have the same types of crimes as larger cities are having. One of the ways to cut crime is by having a larger police presence in the City. One of my goals is to hire more patrol officers.
2) As our city grows, more and more stress is placed upon our Fire Department. At this month’s Council meeting, the Fire Department mentioned the state’s inspection of the department and their hopes that we receive a better fire protection rating. A better rating equates to an insurance cost reduction to our businesses and individual homeowners insurance. Again, as the city grows, we need more personnel and equipment. We depend heavily upon volunteers to fill the gap of our full-time fire fighters, but with a larger full-time staff, response times will be cut and could result in saving of lives and property. Another goal is to build and man another fire station in King.
3) Community development should be a priority of this council. Ashley Turner, who does not serve on the council, not only envisioned it but brought to a reality our new playground at Recreation Acres. My understanding was this current council was against it when it was initially presented. Ms. Turner, through her hard work and dedication, was able to obtain grants and raise funds for it to be built.
If elected, I look to the future in making King a family friendly community. My ideas include, proposing the construction of sidewalks to allow our families and children to walk around our city instead of having to walk in the roadway, involving businesses in our schools to help empower our young adults to further their education or vocational skills, and working to bring in higher paying jobs for economic growth.
We do this by developing a plan, a vision for future economic growth and tax base. As we develop, property taxes will help supply much of the needed funds as well as sales tax from businesses that locate here and the securing of government grants.
Turner – Water/Sewer: I am anxious to learn more about this issue and helping to discover ways to resolve our current situation.
Appearance & Updates: Updated streets, beautification appearance, enforced ordinances, cleaner city/less litter, supporting the continued safety we have and promote surveillance/security.
Community Involvement: I would like to see more community support from all generations. The playground project proved that people of all ages and backgrounds can come together as one. We need more community involvement. The youth needs guidance and we should provide well rounded community support systems for them. Give local businesses a chance to thrive, bring families together and provide places for all ages to grow, have fun, learn and explore – safely.
– Taxes are always a concern for voters. What is your philosophy on taxes and do you foresee a situation in which you would vote to raise taxes in King?
Allen – I would keep tax at the lowest rate possible. If a small increase would benefit all the citizens I would carefully consider tax increase.
Carter – Although I have voted for a previous tax increase in the past, I feel that our current city manager and staff have done a great job of reaching financial stability and carrying out the budget voted on by the council. I do not believe that a tax increase will be necessary in large part because of the hard work our city staff and council has put forth.
Hewett – Taxation is always a sore spot with everyone, especially those on a fixed income. However, in order to provide the services our citizens want and need, we will need a budget that fulfills those, while at the same time does not put an undue tax burden on its citizens. We should look into areas of wasteful spending or actions our current council has been taking. Over the last several years this council has spent over $62,000 in legal fees to settle lawsuits that could have been avoided, money that could have gone towards fire and police equipment or other city needs and not spending money on surveys when this information was already public knowledge. We need to budget expenses and tax increases based upon current and future needs of the community. All of us know that city services are not free and to maintain them require funds and those funds come from sales and property taxes.
Turner – If needed, raising taxes for a short term I support only if it’s for a necessary future longevity positive change and that would benefit all.
– What is your favorite thing about your community? What do you think is your community’s greatest strength?
Allen – The people and the small town feel. The churches, recreation, and public service.
Carter – King is home. It is a beautiful and safe place to raise a family. I feel the greatest asset we possess is each other. Together we have accomplished a great deal and must continue to strive for a better place for future generations in King.
Hewett – One of the favorite things about King is all the activities for our children; soccer, football, dance, baseball, our public schools and now this beautiful handicap accessible playground. I, personally, offer free karate classes to kids who otherwise would not be able to afford them. Our youth and young families are the future of our city and King shows this through all the programs that are available. The strength of our community was shown recently when, regardless of our differences or backgrounds, we came together for the “all volunteer” construction of the new playground at Recreation Acres.
Turner – The people. There are so many good, diverse people here. King has the potential to be the place where high school graduates don’t want to leave and when they graduate college they return, proudly – and in hopes that they too will raise their own families in the same city. With the right guidance this community can be brought together more. The new playground project is proof.
– What would you do to continue to spur economic growth in King?
Allen – Explore all opportunities for job growth.
Carter – One of the main focuses of the council has been this very thing. I currently chair the economic development committee for the City of King. Myself and other business leaders are currently working on identifying properties and recruiting businesses to our area.
Hewett – I would look for and solicit businesses to locate to King. For example, Ruger opened a factory in Mayoden bringing 450 jobs to that community, Remington Arms Company, LLC opened its headquarters in Madison employing 150 people. Where were our elected officials in pushing for these companies to come to King and Stokes County? We have a much better location with major highways, major air and ground transportation hubs as well as a larger population base within the surrounding area to pull from. Yes, Walmart came to King with 200+ jobs, but these are lower paying jobs; we need high-tech factory jobs that pay the $15+ an hour. When you drive through Kernersville, you see the growth and businesses that community is bringing in, and that equates to jobs and more income to the city through property and sales tax. It’s time we elected those who look to the future for our community’s growth and job market. If we don’t, we will be left behind.
Turner – Appearance updates, providing outdoor play/exploration/events for all ages and wise restaurant/business selections. When you show that you care about your city by physically taking care of it, others want to be part of that positive growth.