Five debate for Pct. 2

Published 4:35 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2022

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By Dawn Burleigh

Approximately 150 persons attended the Orange County Republican Debate for County Commissioner Pct. 2 on Friday night at Little Cypress Intermediate School.

Each candidate was given two minutes to respond to questions presented by moderator Kevin Steele. Questions were collected from the audience in attendance.

Each candidate introduced themselves and spoke on why they were running for the position.

Moderator: What experience do you have working with a large budget?

Shawn Hare

Shawn Hare (SH): I have served on 12 large boards. I own my own business and worked at my father’s business. I also have experience in Washington DC working with a senator. Experience comes from work and doing it.

Chris Sowell

Chris Sowell (CS): I am District manager at Schulte Building Systems. I have worked with nonprofits and o the OYSB Board.

Robert ‘Robby’ Lunsford

Robert ‘Robby’ Lunsford (RL): I have no experience. Math is math. We have a good commissioners court. I will step in and learn from them.

Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler (ML):  I worked for a business in Silsbee, and on the Pinehurst City Council. I also work with the budget for the church and ministry. Plus, I am married to an accountant who can answer any questions I have.

Jude Graffagnino

Jude Graffagnino (JG): I serve on the Orangefield School Board where we over see a budget of four to five million dollars.

Moderator: If elected, how will have a positive impact on the county?

JG: There are so many new ideas to try. We need to think outside the box on how to spend money and diversify.

MC: It will be positive. Out of the love for the county, I have developed relationships with mayors and such.

RL: I have had the privilege of working with Road and Bridge the last two years building your roads.

CS: Representing the citizens of Precinct 2. We have had a lack of representatives by not being accessible. I will be available 24/7, I am already that way, to represent you.

SH: There is a need to move forward. I will be present. This is not a 20 hour a month job, it is a 60-plus hours a week. Be present for the citizens.

Moderator: Why do you want to be Commissioner Pct. 2?

JG: I see a need. I can be the person to help us get back on the map.

CS: I love our community. To see it continue to move forward. There is a lot of growth coming countywide. There is no water between 1130 to 1442 and that is why it is not growing there.

RL: Simple answer, I want to help you all.

SH: Right place at the right time. There is a lot of room for growth and this is the right time for Pct. 2 to grow.

MC: I heard a cry of help from the people and elected officials. I was serving this community long before and long after this election.

Moderator: How do you stand concerning tax abatements?

RL: I do not have an answer. I will have to study on it and get back to you.

CS: Only abate so long as the business is still here long after the abatement is gone. A 10 year tax abatement is worth every penny.

JG: I support it 100%. Lose a little on the front end makes up on the long end. It is things to think about

MC: I am a supporter. In Pinehurst it created new opportunities for business. It is gaining 10 years offering new growth, new sales tax revenue and growing the economy.

SH: In moderation. We are in a prime location. I also hear present businesses asking ‘Where is mine?’

Moderator: Have you ever had a majority of your paycheck by tax payers?

JG: Not even close. I have more tax money going out. A school board position is unpaid.

CS: Never

RL: I work for Road and Bridge, I would say no.

SH: No, I am an Angus breeder.

MC: I received a whopping $20 a meeting as Pinehurst City Councilmember.

First day of early voting is Monday, February 14, 2022.