Watch video of WFJA’s interview with Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Amy Dalrymple, a Democrat who is seeking re-election to one of three at large seats on the board. Voters can choose up to three candidates. Democrats Mark Lovick and Cameron Sharpe and Republicans Bill Carver, Paula Fine-Mbuangi and Sandra Jones are also seeking seats. Below, read answers submitted to The Rant monthly in August, September and October.
Briefly introduce yourself and describe why you’re seeking election to the Board of Commissioners.
DALRYMPLE: Greetings! I am Amy Dalrymple and I’m running for re-election to the Lee County Board of Commissioners. Born and raised in Lee County, my husband, Tommy, and I live and work on our family farm just outside of Broadway. We have four children: Robert, Catherine, Matthew and Jenni.
It has been an honor to serve Lee County residents for ten years on the Board of Commissioners and as chair for the last six. When I first ran, we were entering the Great Recession and the next few years were tough for our county. Through hard work and allying with our community partners, we are now growing and thriving in many ways. I want to continue to help create the kind of community where people want to live, work and play.
We have accomplished a great deal, especially in the last four years. I hope the voters of Lee County will see fit to re-elect me to help keep the positive momentum going. While it is unknown what the extent of Covid-19’s impact will be on our county, I will use my leadership experience to ensure that our community remains strong.
What is your view as to the state of things in Lee County with regards to local government, and what measures will you take as a commissioner to see that economic growth continues to occur locally?
DALRYMPLE: Lee County Government is one of the greatest local government organizations in the country. We have an exemplary staff, led by a phenomenal leadership team, all striving to provide more effective and efficient services every day. There is clear collaboration and support between departments, whether we’re dealing with a hurricane, a pandemic or economic development.
Our strong county team partners with Sanford, Broadway, CCCC, Lee County Schools and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance to promote our community in order to bring in new business and industry, while also supporting those already here. We have created a model of community cooperation that works incredibly well. We have been very successful in gaining recent business investments because of this teamwork. One of my goals, if elected to serve another term, is to continue to build on this platform of collaboration. When we have a company invest hundreds of millions of dollars and can add that to our tax base, plus create great jobs, that is a huge win for everyone. Another goal is to ramp up our efforts to grow and support small businesses. They are the backbone of our economy and help frame our community’s identity.
It’s been a big couple of years for Lee County in terms of economic development. Four new projects have been announced since 2019 that will bring more than 1100 new jobs and upwards of $680 million in tax base investments. Some, but not all, of these projects included an economic incentive from the county in the form of a performance-based grant which is tied to capital investment and job creation for a limited number of years. What is your view of this incentive program, and will you support its continuation if you win election?
DALRYMPLE: In the global economy of today, getting a business to locate in your community is very competitive. We are being compared to sites in other countries, states, and even neighboring counties. I understand the critics of incentives, but the reality is that you cannot attract large employers to the area without them. For two years, (2012-2014), Republican commissioners had the majority on the Board of Commissioners. They rejected offering incentives during this time and our county lost hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars. Our incentive packages are transparent and include requirements for the company to provide certain job numbers, wages and capital projects to hold them accountable in the agreement. Two of the most recent economic development successes, Bharat Forge and Audentes, will create over 650 new jobs and add almost $280 million to our tax base. This helps our families by offering employment opportunities and our county’s bottom line so that we can address our operational needs.
Do you support the passage of the $25 million parks and recreation bond to pay for the construction of a multi-field sports complex in Lee County? Why or why not?
DALRYMPLE: The Parks and Recreation Bond on the ballot in November is another investment in our community and I support it. As we renovate and improve our existing parks this year, the need for more playing fields and outdoor space is apparent. Providing more athletic fields, (with ample parking, restrooms, concession areas, and spectator space), a multi-sports complex would offer many opportunities for families and be a new economic engine when tournaments are held there. Families have asked for this kind of facility for a long time. We are finally in a financial situation to be able to do this project, which is why I voted to put it on the ballot. Ultimately, the voters will determine its future.
Residential growth continues, with multiple new housing developments and apartment complexes springing up. What are your thoughts about how to provide a high quality level of services to both existing and new residents without having to consider an increase to the county’s property tax rate?
DALRYMPLE: The key to providing high quality services to our residents as we grow is to strike a healthy balance between residential growth and industrial/commercial growth. For example, the $500,000,000 Pfizer expansion is the equivalent of 2,000 homes valued at $250,000 each. The industrial investment provides jobs and greatly increases our tax base without requiring many additional county services, (unlike homes).
The new employment opportunities are great for people and the addition to the county’s bottom line enables us to provide improved and expanded services, while keeping taxes low. The more business growth we can bring to the county, the more opportunities we can afford for our residents without an additional tax burden.
The country’s opioid crisis continues, and overdoses have spiked since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lee County government in 2018 joined counties and cities across the nation in a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers seeking damages in order to fund programs for prevention, treatment and education. What is your view of this effort to combat the crisis, particularly since in the two years since, a long list of manufacturers have agreed to pay out billions of dollars in settlements in this type of lawsuit?
DALRYMPLE: The opioid crisis is still very real and claiming lives. It did not stop when Covid-19 came to our country. When the county entered into the lawsuit, it was clear that any resolution for us would be years away. So Lee County has done what counties always do, we keep moving forward to try and find solutions and help those in need. A local task force assesses programs, various agencies and departments constantly look out for grants, and we try to navigate around the challenges the coronavirus has placed in our path. The manufacturers and distributors that profit from this tragedy should and can do more to help local governments fight this battle that they helped create. Giving settlement dollars to state governments and agencies often gets so diluted that they don’t go as far as they could if they were awarded at the local level. I would like to see these companies offer more grants and awards to local programs and solutions.