Candidates present their cases at Voice debate

By on October 13, 2012

Teuta Shabani Towler photo.

Seven candidates and an audience of around 70 attended the Outer Banks Voice/Max Radio of the Carolina’s inaugural Dare County Commissioners candidate debate.

The event, held Oct. 8 at the Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills, differed from other area forums as the candidates were free to engage and rebut one another during each round of questions.

If there was a fear that such a format would devolve into a fracas, this proved otherwise. The candidates were cordial to one another and where there was disagreement, it sometimes came between candidates that are not running against each other.

Participating in the debate were Democrat Alfred Jackson and independent write-in candidate Sandy Semans-Ross from District 1, Republican Bob Woodard and Democrat Bob Muller from District 2, and Democrat Allen Burrus and independent Kevin Conner from District 4.

Commission chairman Warren Judge, who is running unopposed in November, also participated in the debate.

Republican Richard Johnson, the incumbent District 1 commissioner, was unable to attend and submitted a written statement.

Following an opening statement, four topics chosen by Russ Lay and Sam Walker were presented to each candidate.

They had an opportunity to answer the question, followed by time to rebut their fellow candidates responses.

The candidates were then given the opportunity to make a closing remark.

Candidates did disagree, especially on the reality or necessity to increase taxes going forward, whether or not we spent too much money during the real estate boom, and on privatization of some government services.

There was also a lively exchange between the District 2 candidates concerning which was more suitable as a candidate, and some obvious differences between incumbent county commissioners and candidates who had served on town boards in regards to budgets and spending.

The candidates also worked in their own talking points on issues not covered by the questions.

In addition to each candidates experience, motivations, and backgrounds, the group expressed their opinions on education, the real estate market, diversifying the local economy, jobs, representation in Raleigh, the crisis in the fishing industry and parts of the county some view as overlooked in the government process.


There has been comment in social media concerning the “lavishness” of county buildings. One local website said “we built Cadillac’s when a Chevy could have done the job”. Did we overspend during the boom or did we spend our tax revenues wisely?

Why should voters believe you are a more suitable choice than your opponent?

Are you prepared to tell taxpayers that a “revenue neutral” property tax rate will mean a net increase for many of them, especially year-round residents?

An incident at a local nightspot this weekend has been described as “gang-related”. This marks the third such incident this year and there has been little said by local law enforcement. Should the county take the lead in confronting this problem and reporting such incidents to the media and the public?


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Carol Dillon Dawson

October 27, 2012 6:52 pm

Sandy thank you for your comment about Hatteras Island. We are an after thought for sure and beach access is certainly not the only issue we face. When I was watching the weather channel this afternoon as hurricane Sandy approaches, the young woman reporter commented about the nourished beach she was standing in front of in Nags Head. It has been 40 long years since ANY preventative measure or nourishment program on Hatteras island. Our only highway to the mainland floods during a hard rain much less every storm that comes to our area. It’s time to do what every other shoreline does to protect and preserve, using preventative measures, not just spending tens of millions after the disaster occurs! Thank you Sandy, you rock!

Obx home owner

October 17, 2012 9:35 pm

Hey ray…you are so smart!…please inlighten me of your wisdom.

NH Citizen

October 15, 2012 2:15 pm

Oh geez, Bob “with respects to” Woodard is all concerned with the court system because he sat on a grand jury and saw that the dockets were backed up.

He believes that if people are arrested and later convicted that this will solve the gang problem. The problem is, people have to get arrested first.

So there were two hundred people fighting at the pit the other night and law enforcement showed up as the fight was still happening. An ambulance crew was threatened, a person was stabbed…

How many people were arrested? ZERO

KDH Rezident Evil

October 14, 2012 12:55 pm

What about Katniss from District 12?

Bob Muller

October 14, 2012 11:43 am

Let me add my thanks. It was an enjoyable and informative event. Sam and Russ deserve credit for excellent questions and Mike Smith did a good job moderating. I hope Max Radio and the OBX Voice will continue these events in future elections. Thanks again to everyone involved.

Sandy Semans Ross

October 14, 2012 7:55 am

Thank you for allowing me to participate in the Outer Banks Voice’s Candidate Forum. The format was great as were the questions. Kudos to the Voice and Max Radio, and to Mike Smith, Sam Walker and Russ Lay! Great job filming and editing, and making it available online is a wonderful public service. These types of events are always important but particularly when voters live in such a large area with different concerns.

Ray Midgett

October 13, 2012 10:04 pm

An excellent debate. I was very impressed with how every one of the candidates articulated their repective positions.


October 13, 2012 8:42 pm

Thank you.

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