Republicans Chris Smith of Whiteville, Mack Ward of Chadbourn and W. Bernard White of Chadbourn are running for the District 2 seat on the Columbus County Board of Commissioners. District 2 includes parts of Whiteville, South Whiteville, North Whiteville and Chadbourn. The winner of the March 3 primary will face incumbent Democrat James Prevatte of Whiteville in November’s general election. The candidates in the Republican primary sent the following responses to questions posed by The News Reporter.
How long have you lived in Columbus County?: 64 years
Immediate family: Wife, Billie Benton Smith, married 45 years. Son, Matt and wife Cory, granddaughters, Vonn Grey and Arlo Jayne, daughter, Lindsay Morgan Smith.
Education: Graduate from Hallsboro High School, and attended Southeastern Community College.
Current elected or appointed office: Columbus County Water and Sewer Advisory Commission.
Current occupation: Retired.
Professional experience: Self-employed plumbing and electrical contractor since 1989 in Columbus.
Why are you running for county commissioner?: I’m confident that I will make a difference in our county government. I feel that the right consideration to the issues affecting our county can move Columbus County in the direction that will attract and keep business, jobs and families to our county. I will always vote in the county’s best interest. Working in the public for the past 30 years has allowed me to hear the concerns of people all over Columbus County. I would like to use my input to help solve issues to make Columbus County a better place to enjoy, work and live.
Why are you qualified to be a county commissioner?: Making decisions is a daily responsibility of a self-employed contractor. With my years as a contractor I learned the practices to be successful and fair. I’m qualified to be a county commissioner because I know the need to make the most effective and correct decisions to ensure a positive outcome for the citizens of Columbus County.
What is the biggest problem facing the county and how would you fix it?: We are experiencing lots of problems in Columbus County. Flooding is a major problem and we must keep addressing our river basins and clean them for proper drainage. Also, our school systems are way behind our neighboring counties. We cannot bus K-6 children for 30 to 40 minutes on a bus. Any child graduating high school or college almost always has to move to obtain a job. (We need jobs.) We will never get industry without sewer. A major water expansion is in process but we need sewer. Sewer will increase land value and allow for major housing development and industry.
W. Bernard White
How long have you lived in Columbus County?: 42 years
Education: I attended middle schools in Chadbourn, high school in Cerro Gordo, and colleges in Whiteville, Wilmington and Raleigh. And I hold a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in marine biology from UNC-Wilmington (minor business administration), along with several technology certificates from various sources.
Current elected or appointed office: None
Current occupation: Technology at Columbus County Sheriff’s Office (Civilian), and web development/marketing business.
Professional experience: Prior to Sheriff’s Office I ran a commercial IT business in Whiteville (Advanced Computing 15+ years) gaining diverse small business knowledge. Working with local business owners and municipality I developed an understanding of the processes/concerns of running a business and town. Six years in eCommerce and marketing.
Why are you running for county commissioner? Because I believe Columbus County can do so much better. And I think we’ve given these people more than enough time to do something good for the people. But instead we see only a declining economy with fewer opportunities year after year. And at some point we’ll all ask why. Is it incompetence or corruption? I think the reason is a little of both — people too proud to admit that their track record is one of failure. Their greed continues a machine politic of corruption that enriches a few at the expense of everyone else. They’ve had full power for decades, could’ve done anything they wanted, and this is what they chose because poverty is big business for some. One hour in any direction finds money, we can do it here too. I’m running for office because I’ve had a gut full of the excuses, and I’m ready for results.
My focus will be on tomorrow (instead of yesterday) and I’m running for County Commissioner (District 2) to bring jobs into Columbus County, to reverse this stagnation of persistent poverty and rare opportunity, to help make this county shine like never before.
Why are you qualified to be a county commissioner?
Because not only do I WANT to bring jobs into Columbus County, I’m going to actually do it. I’m going to close Shakedown Street and kick open the floodgates on industry. Columbus County will be open for business like never before! I’m talking about a Grand Re-Opening for all of us. And that ought to qualify me plenty. We’re gonna have fun doing it too. More jobs & bigger smiles 🙂
Also I’m a strong supporter of Constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment. #WeThePeople
What is the biggest problem facing the county and how would you fix it?
Columbus County needs more jobs. And jobs is where I’ll start, because jobs is where it all starts. A strong local economy is built on commerce, and that means jobs. So purposeful and effective marketing will be used to start that ball rolling. We’ll re-appropriate economic development funds to finance a series of campaigns to identify companies exploring expansion/relocation or startup options. We’ll use sales funnel techniques to qualify businesses and then I’ll initiate contact with the best candidates. I’ll use my decade of business consultation experience (IT) to negotiate win-win deals with businesses for the people. And when I feel I have something workable I’ll then bring it to the commissioners chamber for discussion.
In the process we’ll also foster a new attitude among people coming in contact with the projects. We’ll encourage the idea of helpfulness for our new neighbors, and we’ll walk away from the roadblock mentality of pay-to-play politics. I think it’s time to try something new in Columbus County. I think it’s time to bring the jobs in. Visit bernardwhite.com today.
How long have you lived in Columbus County?: 61 years
Immediate family: My wife is deceased; I was married to Ava Hamilton Ward. Two step sons, Aaron Hamilton Marlow and Philip Hunter Marlow.
Education: Southeastern Community College, North Carolina Justice Academy, Institute of Government, School of Government.
Current elected or appointed office: Currently do not hold any elected or appointed office. Former member of the Columbus County Board of Elections, 2015-2018.
Current occupation: Retired N.C. magistrate, N.C. Judicial District 13A.
Professional experience: Former deputy sheriff having served under four elected sheriffs and one appointed sheriff. Appointed magistrate in 1996, retiring in 2012 for a total of 32 years of combined service to Columbus County and the State of North Carolina.
Why are you running for county commissioner?: I am seeking the office of Columbus commissioner to offer the citizens of the county transparent and open government. I will strive to provide the citizens of the county an easier forum to communicate with their county government. I have no desire to become an entrenched commissioner, just a commissioner to offer more accountability to every citizen and resident of the county.
Why are you qualified to be a county commissioner?: My qualifications to seek this office are very basic. The commissioner should be accountable to the citizens of the county with any concern or issue they have. Everyone should be able to conduct business in county offices without being hindered.
What is the biggest problem facing the county and how would you fix it?
Economic development in Columbus County is almost non existent, just basically consisting of all fluff and no substance. This has simply got to change, in the event toes get stepped on and feelings get hurt, so be it. Columbus County employs a great number of honest, hardworking men and women who in my opinion deserve a fair shake, and more respect for their dedication to the county.