Primary Election Preview: Incumbent Jim Bunting Seeks Fourth Term, Challenged by Addis

Primary Election Preview: Incumbent Jim Bunting Seeks Fourth Term, Challenged by Addis

SNOW HILL – As part of our election preview, The Dispatch conducted question-and-answer sessions with candidates for public office.

Early voting for Worcester County residents will take place at Worcester Preparatory School through July 14. The primary is set for Tuesday, July 19.

In District 6, incumbent Commissioner Jim Bunting will face newcomer Richard Addis. Bunting, who owned his own surveying company and has served on the county’s planning commission and board of zoning appeals, has represented District 6 since 2010. Addis, a first-generation farmer, wants to limit the growth of government and protect land rights.

Q. Why are you running for commissioner? Please list at least three reasons.

Addis: Restoration of constitutional governance. We the people were always meant to elect citizen leaders, not career politicians. I want to ensure every citizen has their First Amendment right to address grievances of their government at any time. Not just at special meetings or designated times convenient for the commissioners. Never again will a business owner in Worcester County be told that their business is non-essential. Article 44 of our Maryland constitution is clear! That the provisions of the Constitution of the United States, and of this State, apply, as well in time of war, as in time of peace; and any departure therefrom, or violation thereof, under the plea of necessity, or any other plea, is subversive of good Government, and tends to anarchy and despotism. As a constitutionalist educated at the Institute on the Constitution, every decision will be based on the supreme law of the land!

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Bunting: Did not respond.

Q. In your opinion, what are the three biggest issues facing Worcester County currently?

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Richard Addis

Addis: Worcester County is carrying $117 million in bond debt. The annual budget is roughly $205 million. This is equivalent to a family making $100,000 per year and carrying $57,000 dollars in credit card debt. This is not sustainable. Worcester county needs to stop borrowing money until the debt we currently have is resolved.

Every year, our county passes new regulations, permits, licenses or fees. Most recently is the rental license program that removed the citizens right to rent their property only to sell the right back to them at a premium. These actions grow government by employing people to manage these new programs which also enlarges the county budget.

Stagnation of governance. We have commissioners seeking their 3rd and 4th terms. This environment breeds complacency and stifles innovation. Our county government is full of politicians working for the next election and not citizen leaders working for the next generation.

Bunting: Did not respond.

Q. In recent years, the commissioners have used fund balance from prior years to balance the budget. What can the county do to build a more sustainable budget to address the fact that requested expenditures exceed anticipated revenues most years?

Addis: We need to come to the hard realization that our government is growing faster than revenue is. We can either raise taxes which I am certainly not in favor of, or trim government. The county owns many properties that are no longer used or needed. These could be sold in auction to the public and the revenue from the sale could pay down the bonds which saves interest. The other benefit is that property will now be generating annual tax revenue. Roughly 54% ($108 million) of the county budget is spent on the Board of Education and WorWic Community college. The state mandates that county residents pay for approximately 80% of the total school budget. The state pays the remainder at nearly 20%. This is the highest ratio in the state of Maryland. Millions of dollars can be saved in the budget by addressing this issue alone.

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Jim Bunting

Bunting: Did not respond.

Q. The commissioners’ 4-3 vote to move forward with purchasing land for a sports complex has been a hot topic in the weeks since. How would you have voted and what are your views on the project?

Addis: The sports complex as proposed will be a financial burden for years to come. The property sought, is the most expensive piece of property in the area at $7.15 million. In 2017 DE Turf in Frederica, Delaware was built for $27 million, and the land was leased for $1 per year. Just in “2017 dollars” that would put the Worcester complex at $34 million and that does not include inflation. Private industry has tried to build a complex in Worcester County and was met with roadblocks and obstruction. I say, get government out of the way and let private industry build the complex. Government has no business competing with the private sector who can build it and run it more efficiently. Area businesses will benefit from the private complex and the county will benefit from the tax revenue. Privately funded is a win-win for everyone. My vote is no.

Bunting: Did not respond.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.