Sawyer seeks public input

Published 8:34 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wayne Sawyer says it’s time for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners to pay more attention to the wants and needs of the public it serves.

“A lot of people are intimidated about coming to the board with a problem,” Sawyer said.

He said the commissioners “need input from the public and should look at each and every need.”

Wayne Sawyer

Sawyer is seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary to be one of four of that party’s nominees to vie against four Republican nominees in the Nov. 6 general election. Five other Democrats are seeking to be among their party’s nominees. They are incumbent Jerry Langley and challengers Lloyd Ballance, Robert Belcher and former commissioners Mickey Cochran and Carolyn W. Harding.

Seven Republican candidates are seeking the GOP nomination including incumbents Jay McRoy and Hood Richardson and challengers Gary Brinn, Larry Britt, Donald Dixon, Rick Gagliano and Tony “T.J.” Keech.

Four seats on the county board are up for grabs this year.

“Beaufort County is a good county, but it could be a better county,” he said. “All it takes is more involvement from the people. The commissioners should take their input and value it. And if a person comes to the board with a problem, take action.”

Sawyer said he agrees with those who have called for a countywide property revaluation every five years rather than every eight years.

He said the commissioners should use “common sense” in their deliberations, particularly in regard to taxes that are levied against the county’s property owners.

“We need to ask, ‘Why do we need to raise taxes?’” he said. “We need to look anew at the budget and seek help outside the board room to answer this question.”

Sawyer described Beaufort County’s current jail as “antiquated.”

“If a new jail would help (the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office) do their job more efficiently, then we should build it,” he said.

He said the commissioners should give careful study to a proposal to build a replacement — making sure that there are sufficient funds to operate a new one.

Sawyer also said that construction of a new jail should take priority over other construction projects such as building a new industrial shell building with the hope of attracting a new industry to the county.

Sawyer said he supports economic development, but he wants the community to focus more of its efforts on attracting several small businesses to the county instead of one large industry.

“Bigger is not always better,” he said. “We should nurture small businesses that could come here.”

He also said county leaders should strive to support the local public schools and work to ensure that students at every school have the same access to a quality education.

Sawyer, 60, retired from PCS Phosphate, now known as PotashCorp Aurora, in 2005 after a career of more than 36 years with the company, most recently as a general foreman of maintenance.

A native of Virginia, Sawyer moved to Beaufort County as a child and graduated from Aurora High School. He attended Beaufort County Technical Institute, now known as Beaufort County Community College. He serves on the Board of Directors of Tideland Electric Membership Corp. and is a former member of the Beaufort County Board of Education and former chairman of the board of the Greater Pamlico Chapter of the American Red Cross. Sawyer has also served for many years as chairman of the Aurora Fossil Festival and frequently volunteers to transport children needing care to Shriners Hospitals in the eastern United States. He attends Edward Christian Church.

He and his wife, Jeannie, a media assistant at Chocowinity Primary School, have three children and live in the Blounts Creek area.