Woolard: County in dire need of more jobs

Published 8:43 am Saturday, April 3, 2010

Contributing Editor

Darwin Woolard, a former Washington councilman, said he’s seeking a seat on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners because it’s “time for me to move on to something bigger.”
That something bigger is to serve all of Beaufort County.
“The No. 1 issue is jobs,” Woolard said in a recent interview.
With the county’s unemployment rate at 12.3 percent for January and between 11 percent and 11.9 percent during all of 2009, that’s proof that county residents need jobs, he said.
“Without the jobs, they can’t pay their bills. When they can’t their bills, others suffer,” Woolard said.
“We have got to find some way to attract new industry,” Woolard said. “We just can’t do factories anymore. We need tourism. We need more small businesses that will hire people.”
“I’d like to see us put a lot more focus on economic development. Beaufort County can have economic development. We’ve just got to be creative about doing it,” the candidate said.
Woolard believes the county should continue to offer incentives to attract new industry and businesses to the county, if those prospective employers will benefit the county. Those incentives could include tax breaks and help with start-up costs associated with relocating an existing industry or business to the county or starting a new enterprise.
The industrial park west of downtown Washington and the industrial park at Chocowinity offer opportunities for economic development, Woolard noted,
As much as he supports efforts to recruit industry and business into the county, Woolard also wants to help existing industry and businesses.
“We need to help grow our own. These people are always going to be here because they’ve lived here all their lives. Where are the incentives for the people who are already here?,” Woolard said. “They deserve incentives that will enable them to expand so they can hire more people.”
Woolard believes the county should pursue all the stimulus funds, grants and other financial resources available to help enhance the county’s economic-development efforts.
“I would go for every dime we could get,” the candidate said.
Taking advantage of those funding sources to the fullest could result in the county having the additional resources it needs to bring about economic growth, Woolard said.
“Good schools help attract industry and businesses,” Woolard said.
As for what services the county should at least consider spending more money on, Woolard said, “I think parks and recreation need to be added at the county level.”
Should the county opt not to create its own parks and recreation department, it should provide more funding to help expand and enhance existing parks and recreations programs operated by municipalities in the county, he said.
“I work with children. I believe they need such programs to help them grow,” Woolard said.
Woolard believes the county can do a better job of making sure equitable and reliable fire and emergency medical services are available throughout the county.
“I think we need to do something about a new jail,” said Woolard, adding that he supports the idea of Washington and Beaufort County exploring the possibility of jointly building a complex that would house a new jail, new police department, new sheriff’s office and, possibly, other similar services.
Woolard is one of four Democrats seeking the three seats available on the board this election cycle. The Democrats and Republicans select their nominees in the May 4 primary election. The nominees battle one another in the Nov. 2 general election.
Darwin Woolard
Age: 41.
Address: 103 Ore Court.
Occupation: Owner, Kingdom Kids Academy, a child care center.
Education: Graduated Washington High School, attended University of North Carolina at Wilmington, currently pursuing a child care director’s certificate at Beaufort County Community College.
Immediate family: Wife, Tonya; two children, Iikkia Hardison and Kieran “Champ” Hardison; one grandchild, Josalyn Vines.
How long a resident of Beaufort County: Has lived in Beaufort County since he was an infant.
Experience as an elected official: Served six years on Washington City Council.
Other relevant experience: Serves on the Washington Montessori Public Charter School’s Board of Directors.
Last book read: The Bible.