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Meet the Polk County commissioner candidates

Next month, Polk County voters will decide who their next set of local leaders will be.

In addition to national and state level races on the ballot, county voters will be asked to select three people to sit on the Polk County Board of Commissioners during next month’s election, which will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3.

To help familiarize readers with those appearing on the ballot for those two races, we sent questions to the four candidates running for commissioner. Their answers appear in the following pages as well as in the Wednesday, Oct. 14 edition of the Bulletin.

Early voting for the election begins on Thursday, Oct. 15 and ends Saturday, Oct. 31. Early voting will only be done at the Polk County Board of Elections this year from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday’s Oct. 17 and 24. Hours on Saturday, Oct. 31 are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For information on local voting rules and regulations, residents may visit http://polknc.org/board_of_elections_2.php.

 

Candidate Bios

 

Name: Ray Gasperson <insert photo attached>

Party affiliation: Democrat

I am a lifelong resident of Western North Carolina. My education was in the public schools of Asheville, Buncombe County and the University of North Carolina-Asheville.

Earlier this year, my wife Sue and I celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary. We are very fortunate that all three of our adult children and their families also live here in Polk County. We have a farm (horses and hay production) in the Green Creek community. I have been a small business entrepreneur for over 40 years (licensed general contractor, realtor).

I have been a Polk County Commissioner since December 2008. Over this time period I have served as Board of Commissioners Chair (2 years), Vice Chair (1 year), on numerous county committees / boards, and as a member of the Board of Trustees with Isothermal Community College. I am also currently Vice President of CETA.

 

Name: David Moore <insert photo attached>

Party affiliation: Republican

Mr. Moore did not respond

 

Name: Andre Overholt <insert photo attached>

Party affiliation: Republican

I have called Polk County home for 27 years and now, I feel it is time to start giving back to the place that has already given me so much.

I was a homeschooled student up until my freshman year of high school where I attended Polk County High, graduating in 2011. From there I went on to play football and obtain a bachelor’s degree in Business and Organizational Leadership at Brevard College in 2015.

After graduating, I joined the Main Street Insurance Agency team in Tryon where I continue to work and serve the people in Polk and surrounding counties. That same year I married my wife, Katie, and became a father to Breelyn Overholt in October of 2018. We’re expecting our second child this month.

Growing up in the county, I have built many great relationships with the people within its borders. This is one of the many reasons I am running for County Commissioner. I want to be able to serve the people of this county and represent their interests to the best of my ability.

The politicians today, in many ways, no longer represent the people they are called upon to serve and completely miss the mark of a public servant. As a husband and father of a young family in this county, I recognize the importance of having a voice that represents the families of the county and will listen to the people. That is my goal in running to be a County Commissioner.

 

Name: Myron Yoder <insert photo attached>

Party affiliation: Republican

I have lived in Polk County with my family for 23 years. In that time, I became a small business owner. I have been a county commissioner for four years, serving two as Vice Chairman as well as being the Chairman currently.

I have been married for 30 years to Cornelia. We have five children, four sons and a daughter. Our daughter and the two oldest boys are nurses. Our daughter lives in California while the boys are in Atlanta; one at Emory Hospital and the other at Grady Hospital.

Cornelia is a Neo Nadel nurse at Mission Hospital in Asheville. Our third son, Mitchell, is a sophomore at Brevard College. He is a running back for the Tornadoes football program. Our youngest son, Reilly, is a sophomore at Polk County High School.

Polk County has been a blessing to my family. I count it a privilege to give back to my community serving the citizens as a Polk County Commissioner.

I ask for Your Vote November 3rd for Polk County Commissioner.

 

  1. What is your top priority if elected and what do you think you offer that other candidates may not?

 

Ray Gasperson

Upon my re-election as a Polk County Commissioner, my top priority will continue to be, as it has been for the past 12 years, first, ensuring that there is transparency in the actions taken by local county government. Second, voting for annual budgets that are financially sound and fiscally conservative. Third, always striving to ensure that we are making the highest and best use of taxpayer money and the time and talents of county employees and volunteers.

No other commissioner candidate in this election has my experience and knowledge of our county’s government. During these challenging and uncertain times, I will put that experience to work to make sure that we continue to have stable, transparent and financially sound local county government.

 

David Moore

Mr. Moore did not respond.

 

Andre Overholt

If elected, my top priority will be to listen the constituents of Polk County. I believe that should be the desire and priority of every public servant. No one knows the needs of the county better than the people of the county. I will aim to preserve what is working and work tirelessly with the people to improve that which is not.

I have had the privilege to live in this county since the age of two. Now, I am blessed enough to start and raise my own family in this same county.

There is a younger generation of families that need to be involved and need to have a voice. I want to be that representation which is currently lacking. The decisions that are being made today will greatly impact my own children and the many other families in the county. This perspective is needed at the commissioner level.

 

Myron Yoder

If I am reelected, I feel the number one priority is continuing the push to get the Broadband and Internet infrastructure in to reach every home in Polk County as quickly as possible. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to do education and business from our homes.

My experience in business and leadership has helped me understand how hard it is to create or develop some of these complex issues and how important it is to work together as a team of Commissioners to get these issues resolved and done for our citizens.

As the current chairman of the Polk County Commissioners, I have enjoyed seeing the progress we have made in putting together a broadband five year infrastructure plan. I feel it is my responsibility to keep us focused as a board on the priorities and count it as a privilege to do this for Polk County citizens.

 

 

  1. What is the most important issue you think the county commissioners will have to address over the next 2-4 years?

 

Ray Gasperson

The most important issue that the Polk BOC will be facing in the next 2+ years, especially during this time of Covid-19 and great financial uncertainty, is ensuring that the Polk County budget remains sustainable while maintaining an adequate “Rainy Day” fund, and to do this without raising property tax rates.

It vital that we maintain proper funding for law enforcement, public education, public health, EMS and all essential services which are be provided by Polk County Government. We must also work to protect our magnificent rural county and support our farming and agri-tourism community.

 

David Moore

Mr. Moore did not respond.

 

Andre Overholt

In the upcoming years, I believe the county commissioners will be dealing with a lot of the aftereffects of Covid-19. We will begin to see some of the impacts and financial burden it has caused on the county and school system. It could be a particular challenge navigating budget and allocating funds appropriately.

Improving internet and cell service in the area has got to be a priority in the coming months as well.

In addition, it will also be very important that we maintain our low tax rate in the county. NC Association of County Commissioners recently released the 2020 County Map Book which shows Polk County is tied for 17th lowest tax rates in NC. I believe low taxes have been the key to our county’s success and maintaining that will be essential.

 

Myron Yoder

Again, I would say Broadband and Internet infrastructure to every home in Polk County.

Next, I feel a new service water contract and creating a water authority with Inman-Campobello, who is current water service carrier for the county, and with Broad River Water Authority. This is going to take some long range planning and input from each entity as to benefit all parties involved.

I think that creating a water authority will help make public water more affordable and also will take away the political input that has received more attention than the public water needs itself.

The needs of and planning for is where the focus should be.

Next, the need for a new Recreation Center for Polk County. There are discussions to this effort. This will take fundraising and planning, but I feel a very worthwhile project for our young people and seniors.

 

 

  1. Polk County recently began its own health system and pulled away from the previous joint system with other counties. Do you think that was a good idea? Given the recent pandemic, how do you think Polk County has done with its own system and would you suggest any improvements if elected?

 

Ray Gasperson

In 2017, Polk County started using a Consolidated Human Services model that included the Departments of Social Services, Transportation, Veterans and Mental Health services.

In 2019, I spearheaded the work that resulted in the Department of Public Health being added. This consolation reduced administrative costs and greatly improved the speed, flexibility and quality of services that can now be provided to Polk County citizens without having to travel outside of our county.

As a Commissioner I will continue to advocate policies and budgets that will support the employees and infrastructure that provide these vital services and will continue to seek ways to expand public health services, especially for children and senior citizens.

 

David Moore

Mr. Moore did not respond.

 

Andre Overholt

Yes. This decision was a very good one for the people of Polk County. Not only is this switch going to be fiscally responsible, but it has also enabled the county to focus the services and funds specifically around the needs of Polk County while the joint system had to consider needs in Rutherford and McDowell as well.

This has proved to be beneficial in the wake of Covid-19. Our testing, reporting and treating has been timely and effective. This switch was just made in July of 2019 so I believe the scope of services will only improve as in-county coordination improves.

As commissioner, it is our job to make sure they have the resources needed to do so.

 

Myron Yoder

I am very proud of being a part of bringing back the Health Department to Polk County instead of being a part of a three-county health department. We have greatly Improved the health services to our citizens for the same money and less money in the long term. We have Direct oversight and Communication with our Health Administrator and department which has benefited us greatly during the Covid-19 pandemic, such as getting the emergency protocols expedited.

This change removed the middleman administrative communication problem. This made the decision making process a lot smoother and quicker.

On the Environmental Health side, septic and well permit applications from a 12 week ordeal to a two week process. This was greatly appreciated by Real Estate and Contractors. A small Government run great is the Best Government.