Watch video of WFJA’s interview with Cameron Sharpe, an incumbent Democrat who is seeking one of three at large seats on the Lee County Board of Commissioners. Voters can choose up to three candidates. Incumbent Democrat Amy Dalrymple and challenger Mark Lovick 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.
SHARPE: My name is Cameron Sharpe. I am currently serving on the Lee County Board of Commissioners since 2016. I am 56 years old, a Lee County native and I work full time for NCDPS as a probation/parole officer with 29 years on the job. There have been many accomplishments since elected to the Board in 2016. I am running for re-election to continue the momentum Lee County has experienced and to finish several initiatives that have been started. Very soon, we will have several projects going on at one time. We will be renovating the old historic courthouse and moving the district attorney’s office there. We will be renovating the old Firehouse in to the new Register of Deeds office and renovating the newer courthouse to make more room for the Clerk of Court. These ongoing projects in the county are a major reason I am running for re-election. I want to see these projects through to completion and also improve the quality of life for all the citizens in the county. Mainly, “I just love Lee County, it has been very good to me.”
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?
SHARPE: The state of things in Lee County are great. From public transportation, to schools, employment/jobs, public safety and to economic development, everything is moving along at a very fast pace. Currently, Lee County is a very busy place with a lot going on. Lee County is a great place to work, grow and play. In 2019, Lee County experienced its best year ever in the area of economic development with 1200 jobs created and over 800 million dollars in new investment. Over 2500 new jobs have been created since 2016. The biggest reason Lee County has experienced so much success is because all of our elected officials and Boards have been working together in unison. The spirit of cooperation between these Boards has been an awesome thing. When everyone is working together, so much more gets accomplished. Collaboration is what is making it work so well in the county and city. I will continue to work hard to continue this model of success. The county is on the right track to succeed and grow. As evidenced by our success, my hopes are that Lee county will remain a great place to invest, live, work and raise a family.
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?
SHARPE: 2019 was one of the biggest years in terms of economic development that Lee county has ever seen. I wish incentives were not necessary to attract new business to our area, that’s for sure. The success we had in the county last year would not have been possible without performance base incentives. In a perfect world, incentives would not have to be offered to attract new business to our area. It’s just how the game is played in today’s times. With 1100 new jobs in 2019 and 680 million dollars in new investment, I support all the hard work our board, the city and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance put in to make all this happen here in Lee county. It was a great effort. I will continue to support this incentive program as it helped Lee county experience one of the best economic years on record and is bringing people of the county good jobs. People all over the state are asking, “what are you guys in Lee county doing to experience so many wins?”Most of the credit goes to the guys at the Sanford Area Growth Alliance who are in the field on a daily basis doing the heavy lifting. Thanks to those guys, and the collaborative effort of the city and the county to make this work.
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?
SHARPE: I do support the passage of the parks and recreation bond to pay for the construction of the multi-field sports complex in Lee county. I think our kids and parents deserve a quality facility. I really think this is something our area has needed for a long time. Our teams and county need to have a complex that we can host tournaments at. For years, our kids and parents have had to travel out of town and spend their money other places because we do not have the facility’s to host such events. I think now is the time to get this done.
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?
SHARPE: Residential growth has taken on a fast pace in our county over the last few years. The first thing that comes to mind on how to provide high level services would be the 800 million dollars that will soon go on the books from recent economic development successes the county experienced in 2019. If this increase in revenue is handled responsibly, there should absolutely be no reason to increase property taxes.
In fact, we should be able to lower taxes again like this board did in the 2019 budget year. We lowered the county’s property tax rate two pennies from 79.5 to 77.5 cents per $100 of property valuation. It was the board’s intention to lower the property tax rate another two pennies in the 2020 budget, but Covid-19 came, and we were not able to do so.
If re-elected, I see the board taking another look at lowering the county’s property tax rate in the 2021 budget. Without a doubt, the county will continue to grow and through good planning and fiscal responsibility, we will provide high level services to our citizens.
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?
SHARPE: As a member of the BOC, I voted for the county to participate in the lawsuit against opioid manufacturers. Let’s face it, opioid addiction is an epidemic. Literally every family across America has been touched in some way by opioid addiction. For that reason, I feel the drug manufacturers owe the people because they misrepresented the addictive ability of the drugs they were selling.
Since they misrepresented their product, I feel that they should pay the county’s and municipalities damages. The opioid epidemic has cost the county financially, therefore I think it‘s only right for the drug manufacturers to pay for damages to help with prevention, treatment, and education. With financial help from these manufacturers, we can only hope and pray we can put an end to this terrible epidemic.