Keech: ‘Little guys’ need an effective advocate

Published 10:16 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Community Editor

Tony “T.J.” Keech Jr. believes that small businesses are the heartbeat of Beaufort County, and he plans to advocate for them.
Keech is one of five Republicans vying for his party’s nomination to run for three available seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
A Beaufort County native, Keech said, “I want to give back to the county I love and have lived in all my life.”
He considers himself a “regular guy,” and Keech said he can relate to the hardships everyone is dealing with because of the Great Recession. That’s why, if elected, he wants to look out for the little guys.
“We need to look after our small businesses, to start with. Beaufort County is comprised of small businesses,” he said.
According to Keech, about 75 percent of businesses in the county are considered “small businesses.” He said by keeping commercial taxes as low as possible, these businesses will survive, and, maybe someday, thrive.
He said raising taxes — commercial and/or residential — puts “an unnecessary burden on people and businesses.”
Keeping taxes low, as well as offering other business incentives such as tax breaks, will encourage larger employers to invest in the county, too. But, Keech said, the county has to prove it has a skilled work force. And that’s where proper primary education comes into play, he said.
“We need to work on education, partnership with the school board and work with organizations like the Beaufort/Hyde Partnership for Children so we have the work force and manpower here for these industries to have well-trained employees,” Keech said.
Keech said he doesn’t believe any county services need to be taken over at the state level, especially considering the state’s current budget shortfall. Organizations such as health departments and social-services agencies also have different needs and priorities from county to county within the state, he said.
“What works in Buncombe County might not work in Beaufort County. What works in Beaufort County might not work in Wake County,” Keech said. “We need to keep (these services) to the county so the county can do it the way it needs to be done, within the law.”
Instead, Keech said he would work with county agencies to streamline services, cut unnecessary or wasteful spending and implement cost-saving methods of conducting business.
As a commissioner, he also wants to find out if and why Beaufort County has become a career stepping stone for so many. He said he will look into turnover within county agencies and address the problem so the county can avoid being a training ground for other counties.
Keech said by doing so, “Hundreds of thousands of Beaufort County tax dollars can be saved and reinvested more appropriately in community services and programs.”