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News Macon commissioner candidates preparing for primary

Commission Chair Kevin CorbinChairman of Macon County’s Board of Commissioners, Kevin Corbin, and fellow commissioners Bobby Kuppers and Jimmy Tate, will be on the ballot for the May 8th Primary. In an effort to go behind the scenes and dig a little deeper about why they decided to run, the Macon County News asked the serving commissioners several questions about their goals and desires for the county going forward, and perhaps most importantly, what they will bring to the board of commissioners if they are chosen by Maconians to continue with their public service.

Kevin Corbin: Republican — District Two

Why did you decide to run?

“I decided to run because I love Macon county and the people who live here. I grew up here. My family has been here since the late 1700s. I belong to several civic organizations and I have been very active in the community and with my church. I settled down here and my two kids want to settle here. I love Macon County and I would like to do my part to make it a better place to live.”

What has been the biggest adjustment for you since joining the board in 2010?

“I expected it but the time involved is a huge adjustment. It’s hard to run a business and serve as a commissioner. I love it though. But we have various committee and board meetings every month that we have to attend. I think it averages to about 15 meetings per week. I enjoy it but there is a lot of time involved, and it requires some sacrifices.”

What will be your priorities for this year and in your next term, if you win in May?

“I think we’re still in a weak economy so we have to hold the line on our budget, keep our tax rate low, and cut where we can. I think its always best if we can keep money in the pockets of the people. I also think more involvement with the Economic Development Commission is a priority. I think our board likes where the commission is going. We are now getting monthly reports back from the commission, which allows us to become more involved with economic development in this county. With unemployment remaining so high, we have to be more involved there, and I like what they have been doing in recent months.”

What are you most proud of since joining the board?

“I think writing a resolution opposing the Duke Power rate increases and having other counties follow suit is something I’m proud of. I think the Utilities Commission heard our board and the people we represent on that. I think what our board has done with preserving McCoy Bridge, trying to get a dialysis center here, and opposing the state’s original Needmore project is something I am proud of too. I think their original plan called for $13 million on the Needmore project, and we were able to convince them to take a different course and to reduce their costs to $3 million. And it won’t have such a negative impact on the environment our there. I also think we have kept our services up to par, even when reducing our budget over the past several years. We have cut our budget by about 15 percent, but our services are still top notch. That is something I am proud of.”

How are you going to approach this primary campaign?

“I will be participating in forums throughout the county and engaging citizens wherever and whenever I can. Since I’ve been on the board I think most people know where I’m coming from on most things.”

As chairman, what areas in the county would you like to improve?

“I would like to continue to encourage public input and be involved with the community. I think our budget this year will be a big issue. Our state has cut back a lot and federal stimulus dollars are running out. This is going to be our biggest challenge and we are going to have to continue working together to solve these problems and ensure our services are protected.”

Kevin Corbin is a Macon County native and is active in numerous civic and community organizations. Mr. Corbin is a graduate of Franklin High School, class of 1979, an Honors Graduate of Appalachian State University, where he majored in Marketing and Business Management. He served as News Editor of the university’s “Appalachian” newspaper and interned for the university as a Public Information Officer. Corbin also represented ASU in the North Carolina Student Legislature. He graduated from Appalachian with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Corbin is married to Beth and they have two children, Matt and Maggie. They are members of Holly Springs Baptist Church where he serves as deacon. The Corbins own and operate Corbin Insurance Agency and he is a partner in Blue Ridge Insurance Group, Inc. Mr. Corbin is also a founding member of the successful gospel group Blue Ridge.

Robert KuppersCommissioner Robert (Bobby) Kuppers: Democrat — District Three

Why did you decide to run for reelection? Isn’t it adding on more pressure to an already busy schedule?

“I don’t think I would call it pressure. I see it as an opportunity to serve the county that I grew up in and that is an honor. That’s how I see it. I have enjoyed each and every moment of being a commissioner and the opportunity to work for the people another four years would be a great honor, I truly believe that.

What are your goals for Macon County?

“Put simply, I would like to leave the county better than what we found it. I would like to improve our services and continue to keep our tax rate as low as possible. I think we have done a great job as board members to work together and keep our county’s finances in good shape. In the long-term, I would like for us to look at enacting our Master Plan that the people of this county put together. I think the people deserve that. If we can adjust that plan where we need to, I would like to see us use that eventually.”

What has been the biggest adjustment being a commissioner?

I think time management is the biggest thing. I don’t mind it at all because it comes with the territory, but it is incredibly difficult to meet with everyone who represents this county on committees and boards, and to establish and have a good rapport with folks who are interested in making our county a great place to live. But being a commissioner, you just have no other choice but to manage your time as best you can and go from there. But it’s frustrating when you can’t meet with everyone that you would like to meet with, but I wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything else.”

What are you most proud of during your tenure as representative of district three?

This is a hard one, but I think improvements to our schools, with the addition of Mountain View and Iotla Valley, are big ones. Improvements to our Senior Services center is another thing we’re proud of. But I think probably what I’m most proud of is our ability to avoid D.C. politics and work together as a board. It’s not easy to do, but county government is where the rubber meets the road. This is where things get done. We can’t afford to meddle and pass on things to other organizations. We have to work together to solve problems and for the most part I think we have. I’m proud of that. We don’t always agree but we do agree to get along.”

What do you want voters to know about you before they go to the polls? Do you know your primary opponent?

“I want them to know that it has been a tremendous honor to serve this county and it has been a truly humbling experience. I am running to remain as a Macon County commissioner and not against Ricky Snyder. I think that’s an important distinction to make. That being said, it’s been an honor and I would like to continue to serve the people of this county if they will have me.”

What are your biggest priorities for 2012 and going forward into next year?

I think we have to keep working together. We’ve done a great job at avoiding the trap of partisan politics and I would like for us to continue working that way. I think the budget will be the biggest issue this year. With so many cuts to our schools at the federal and especially the state level, we have to step in where we can and do what is necessary to protect our county services. As the federal stimulus dollars go away, we have to act. We can’t afford to ignore the problem like they often do in Washington and Raleigh. I would also like to see a public beach access at Nantahala Lake, and I’m going to continue working with folks out there to make that happen. I don’t care how long it takes.”

Robert (Bobby) Kuppers was elected in November, 2008. Bobby and wife Peggy have three daughters, Amanda, Lauren and Susannah.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He entered the Navy’s nuclear power program and served in the U.S. Submarine Force for 25 years including a tour as Commanding Officer of USS Key West (SSN 722). Upon his retirement from the Navy in 2000, he became a teacher for Macon County Schools and an assistant football coach at Franklin High School. Kuppers teaches social studies at Franklin High School.

He and his wife are members of Snow Hill United Methodist Church where he serves as lay leader and trustee. Kuppers represents the Board on the Airport Authority, Child & Family Council, Community Funding Pool, Solid Waste Authority, and WNC Tomorrow.

Jimmy TateJimmy Tate: Republican — District One

Why do you want to serve Macon County in this capacity for the next several years?

“As a multiple generation Maconian, I have a deep desire to make sure that Macon County will continue to be a great place to call home not only for my lifetime, but also for the many future generations of all of our families to come. In brief terms, I want to provide my time, knowledge, and talents to make a difference for Macon County.”

Where would you like to take Macon County in the next several years; some of your goals?

“First and foremost, I would like to see Macon County continue the course in regards to how we are managing our finances and tax dollars. Even with the lowest tax rate in the state of North Carolina, Macon County has still been able to actually end the fiscal year with a financial surplus versus a deficit even without cutting services. The State and Federal governments should take note! Other important items to me are promoting our educational system, providing opportunity and jobs, and ensuring that all of Macon County's services are provided professionally, efficiently, and fairly.”

What has been the biggest adjustment for you since joining the board?

“This is a two part answer. My biggest personal adjustment has been learning how to be away from my family much more than I initially expected. My biggest emotional adjustment has been learning that I can't please everyone and that at the end of the day I have to truly believe that my actions were for the best of Macon County as a whole and not for a specific person or group.”

What do you want voters to know about you before they head to the polls on May 8th?

“I will give all of the voters my personal word that I will continue to work my hardest and do my best to ensure that Macon County is the best that it can be. I want our taxes low, our services and management efficient, and I want to provide our residents a safe and desirable place to call home.”

You ran as a challenger in 2010 and now you are a sitting incumbent, does that change how you are approaching this election?

“Actually, it does make a difference because I have much more knowledge about our County and how it is managed. This provides me with better insight in how I respond to voters questions with my answers.”

What are the biggest issue(s) you would like to tackle this year and in the next several years if you are representing district one? (priorities)

“Ensuring that Macon County government is fiscally responsible and will be ran as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Keeping our taxes as low as possible. Providing a high quality educational system. Promoting free enterprise, opportunity and thus jobs. Keeping our County safe, beautiful and a great place to call home.”

Tate is a sixth generation native of Macon County. In 1995, he graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA., where he earned a Batchelor of Landscape Architecture degree. Currently he owns and operates Tate Landscaping Services, Inc. in Highlands.

Jim and his wife, Allison, and their two children, Ethan and Eliza, reside in Highlands where they are actively involved in various organizations in the community; such as Highlands Rotary Club, Highlands Chamber of Commerce, Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, Highlands United Methodist Church, and Highlands School. Jim is a 13 year member of the Highlands Fire & Rescue Squad, currently serving as Rescue Captain.

Mr. Tate has served the Town of Highlands as past Chairman of the Land Use Committee, Appearance Commission, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments. Recently, he has served as Vice-Chairman of the Macon Republican Party. Mr. Tate is also a former employee of the Macon County Emergency Medical Services as an EMT-1 and has served on the Macon County EMS Quality Management Committee and the Macon County Planning Board.

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