There are three district elections for the Lee County Board of Commissioners in November. Here, we have answers from the candidates from District 4 (much of west Sanford and western Lee County, including the Pocket community and northern parts of Tramway), former Commissioner and Democrat Larry “Doc” Oldham and Republican Taylor Vorbeck, who are vying to fill the seat held by Republican Arianna Lavallee, who is not seeking re-election. These answers were published unedited and as received from the candidates in the September and October editions of The Rant Monthly.
In person early voting begins on Thursday at the Lee County Board of Elections at 1503 Elm St. or the McSwain Center at 2420 Tramway Road. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday between Oct. 20 and Nov. 4. In person early voting will also be available from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5. Election Day is Nov. 8. For information about absentee ballots, click here.
Please introduce yourself and describe your qualifications for office:
OLDHAM: I am Larry C. “Doc” Oldham and I am running to be your voice on the board of commission for district 4. I am a native of Lee County, born and raised in the West Pocket area. I have the honor to be a devoted husband to my wife, Susie and father to my daughter, Lori.
I attend Pocket Presbyterian Church, where I serve as an elder on the session. I am also president of the Pocket Presbyterian Men and chairman of the cemetery committee. I am a veteran, having volunteered to serve my country in the US Army. Upon leaving the service, I embarked on a career in road construction and retired as vice president of a local company. I have previously served on the Lee County Board of Commission for eight years. I am proud of my record on the board. Additionally, I have served on the Sanford Area Growth Alliance and was heavily involved in working with Sanford and Lee County in increasing our tax base by a billion dollars giving our citizens some tax relief and well paying jobs.
I am a Christian, patriot, veteran, and a conserative steward of our tax dollars. I will serve all the citizens of Lee County and have the experience to be your voice on day one. I ask for and appreciate your vote and support to serve as your commissioner for the fourth district.
VORBECK: It doesn’t matter how many people do what you do. No one can do it like you. Hello my name is Taylor Vorbeck and I am running for County Commissioner in District 4. I am a conservative Christian, that firmly believes that you if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. Christ is my firm foundation upon which I stand, and whom I will lean on to when making my decisions here in Lee County. I am a mother of 4 children, 9, 7, 5 and 2, and a small business owner here in town. My husband also owns a small business, so we are very well versed in what it takes to own, operate, and keep the doors open for a small business, especially in this economy. I am running for this position so I can continue the efforts of my fellow commissioners in keeping our taxes lowered, make sure that we grow smart, and make every effort to not lose what makes Lee County great.
Lee County has experienced massive tax base growth in recent years, leading to an increase in property tax revenue. How will you balance the opportunity to decrease property tax rates with other needs brought about by growth (capital projects such as the new library) and the public’s vote in 2020 to proceed with the multi-sports complex?
OLDHAM: We are experiencing growth like we have never seen before in Lee County. This was created by the county and city using incentives to bring industry and jobs to Lee County. This led to an increase in our tax base which allowed for a reduction in property taxes for our citizens. Additionally, there has been a vast increase in job opportunities for our citizens. I am proud to have been a part of this growth. Now, we need to come up with ways to keep this and the requirements it will put on our infrastructure within our tax base. We will need to work with the City of Sanford and Town of Broadway to maintain control of expansion and growth of subdivisions. We will need to work together on maintaining adequate law enforcement, fire protection, and schools. We need to look at the sports complex in terms of what we can afford now and look at expansion in the future. We will also have to be prepared for the maintenance and upkeep for the sports complex. If we are good stewards with the tax base revenue we should be able to do this and keep Lee County moving forward.
VORBECK: I am committed to fiscal responsibility and putting the needs of the tax payers first. Lee county is experiencing a positive amount of growth and with that comes the responsibility to uphold the integrity of the services the county provides. With such growth, the county will need to continue its services and increase the budget on areas like law enforcement, school funding and general services. With inflation hitting Americans so deeply, I want our county to provide relief by continuing to lower the tax rate, reducing the burden on our tax payers. Certain projects that enhance the quality of life here in Lee County can be funded but only if they fall within the county’s appropriated budget without impacting the tax rate.
Have you signed any pledges or promises to outside groups or individuals in exchange for an endorsement? If so, please describe them.
OLDHAM: I have not signed any promises or pledges to any political party, political party chair, or any partisan organization. My promises and pledges are to do my best to be the voice for ALL the citizens in district 4 of Lee County.
VORBECK: I have not signed any pledges or promises to be running for this position. My only pledge is to the citizens of District 4 in Lee County (and the county as a whole), and to do what is best with the opportunity to be their commissioner. I am happy to discuss any issues that have and will come up at any time.
Soaring building costs have changed plans for the county’s multi-sports complex, for which nearly 59 percent of Lee County voters approved a $25 million bond in 2020. Now that the project is slated for completion in multiple stages, what will you do to ensure it becomes a reality in as close alignment as possible with the voters’ wishes while also keeping additional spending minimal?
OLDHAM: The people of Lee County voted for and approved a 25 million dollar bond to build the multi-sports complex. I will support completing this. I support it being done in stages in order to stay within budget and avoid a tax increase. With the influx of new industry, population growth, and tax base growth we should be able to complete this project and meet the will of the people who voted for this. The positive thing about completing it in stages is we will have the opportunity to make improvements or changes as better options become available or unforeseen needs arise.
VORBECK: I believe there isn’t an area of our lives that hasn’t seen an affect from rising prices, regardless of the price, the vision for the multi-sports complex in Lee County hasn’t changed. We still want to put out a product that our residents can be proud of, a product that is beneficial for multi-sports and we also owe it to the voters to spend the money allotted to best of our abilities. I believe looking at sponsorships or corporate partnerships to finish some of the larger sections would be an avenue I want to explore. With 3 of my 4 children currently in sports, playing sports growing up, and knowing the opportunities sports can provide our children locally for future scholarships, I believe this complex can provide avenues that will be beneficial for our current & future generations. The best I can do without a crystal ball is promise that the quality of the complex will be on the forefront on my mind, a play area for siblings accompanying their sport-playing siblings and creating the best we can present even if that does require stages. The vision I see for the complex is something we can all be proud of as Lee County residents.
Confidence in elections has eroded nationwide in recent years, particularly following the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Will you recognize the outcome of your race in 2022, and if elected, what steps will you take to show the public that Lee County’s election process and election workers can be trusted?
OLDHAM: I recognize the outcome of our past local elections and will continue to honor the results. I have worked the polls in past elections and never doubted the operation and fairness of the process. The workers and volunteers of the election office work hard to make sure the voice of every voter is heard in Lee County. I have the utmost faith in our elections director and her team, our elections board, our chief judges, and precinct workers. We are blessed to have such experienced and talented people running our elections in Lee County. I think the majority of the people of Lee County agree with me on this and feel our process is fair and should be trusted.
VORBECK: Michael Jordan was quoted once saying “Failing to try is like trying to fail”, in these past two years we’ve all experienced failures, some way more than others, BUT it’s what we do during the failures is what truly counts, not always the outcome. Confidence overall has been degraded across the county, not just in elections, we’ve become divided, we’ve become scared of our own neighbors. We’ve been told that the fear of dying is far greater than the excitement of living. I pray that everyone that can legally vote in Lee County goes out and exercises’ that right, that they at least go TRY. There is a growing team of election integrity units across North Carolina, and I trust they will make sure our elections are as trusted as can be. I will trust my election outcome, and recognize win or lose, because at the end of the day, I can’t stand on the sidelines and expect change if I’m not willing to try. Ultimately, I want what’s best for Lee County, and am excited at the opportunities that lie ahead. Lee County, let’s all try together, win or lose.