Four Republicans In Primary Battle For Southern District

Republicans in the south end of Worcester County hope to compete with a
Democratic candidate in the general election for the District 1 County
Commissioner post.

The Dispatch spoke to
the four Republican District 1 candidates last week in advance of the Sept. 14

Larry Ward: “We
need change and we need change fast,” said Larry Ward, owner of a tree service
company, on why he decided to run for commissioner.

The county needs to be
run more efficiently, he feels. Layoffs and a mandatory retirement age are
necessary. He also thinks the county should go to a four-day workweek.

The schools could also
be more efficient by combining summer schools into fewer buildings and using
fewer buses during the school year.

Someone on the county
level needs to actively seek green business, which would provide jobs and
increase the tax base, he said. Those jobs could help keep young people in the

“We need to bring the
new jobs here. We got to do it,” Ward said.

Businesses are
over-regulated in this county, making it a “nightmare” to start a business,
Ward said, and the county should be encouraging new businesses to come here,
perhaps by advertising itself to all the visitors who come to Worcester.

The county could also
promote itself for organic farming, he said, and eco-tourism.

The property tax rate
needs to be kept the same, Ward said.

Growth is a non-issue,
he said, with plenty of lots already approved for residential and commercial

Bill McDermott:
McDermott signed up to run for commissioner because he has always wanted to run
for political office and now that he has retired from Verizon, he has the time,
he said.

The commissioners need
to have more clarity in their dealings, McDermott said, and if elected, he
would work to do away with closed-door meetings.

“Anything that happens
inside that door is part of the county,” McDermitt said.

He would also like the
commissioners to hold a town hall type meeting once or twice a month, where
people could bring their problems directly to elected officials.

The county needs to be
more business friendly, he said, and make it easier to get permits and start
new businesses.

While he feels it is
impossible to cut taxes, the county needs to hold the line, McDermott said, to
be in good shape when the economy turns around.

Government waste needs
to be looked into, he said, such as take-home cars. The county could also use a
buying agent, who would purchase equipment and supplies en masse instead of the
departments buying separately.

Teachers should get a
cost of living raise, he said. The commissioners should also have more
oversight of the public school budget. The technical high school sits empty all
evening, but it could be used for adult education, he suggested.

McDermott said he is
against environmental organizations dictating policies that do not allow people
to build next to the water. If people don’t want land built on, they should buy
it themselves.

“I’m an environmentalist
to a point. I think clean water is very important. Fishing, boating is very
important to the economy,” he said.

Jerre Clauss:
Clauss, a human resources manager working in industrial safety at Perdue Farms,
got into the commissioner race in hopes of controlling his own destiny.

He has some experience
working with county government as chair of the Worcester Board of Zoning
Appeals and time on a planning commission in Pennsylvania.

“Right now what the
county needs is a good management structure because the money’s running out,”
said Clauss.

The county needs to be
run like a for-profit business, he feels. The present tax structure should be
retained, but the county needs to think about saving money somewhere or
bringing in other revenue.

The commissioners should
be actively involved in protecting the environment and preserve the county
quality of life, he said.

“You can’t stop growth.
It’s inevitable. But you can try to manage it intelligently,” he said.

The county needs more business,
such as small, clean industry, and businesses related to the spaceport at
Wallop’s Island.

Merrill Lockfaw:
Lockfaw, a recently retired roads superintendent for Worcester County, said he
just wants an opportunity to give back to the county.

“We need to concentrate
on some areas where we can save money,” Lockfaw said.

The county needs to
increase jobs and increase tourism to bring more revenue in. People also need
jobs, he said. Children need a good education and jobs for when they graduate.

Farmers and watermen are
seeing some tough times, and the county needs to strike a balance between
over-regulation and too little regulation, he said, while the county also
protects the environment.

Growth is important to
bring in taxes and jobs and keep people employed, but the county shouldn’t grow
too large, he said.

He said he would wait to
make up his mind on taxes until he is elected.

“We don’t want high
taxes but at the same time the people expect a certain amount of service,” he
said. “It all depends on revenue.”

Lockfaw would also
maintain a conservative attitude towards spending and take each issue on its
own merits.