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April 18, 2024

Commission candidates tell their goals for the County

The Alexander County Board of Commissioners race in the March 5 Primary Election has four Republican candidates: incumbents, Joshua Lail and Kent Herman, and challengers, Brigette Rhyne and John Whisnant.

Lail, age 46 of Bethlehem, is married to Mollie Boan Lail. Their children are: Hannah, Haley, Lizzie, Lawson, Grant, Barrett, and Junie Kate. Lail served on the Alexander County Board of Education for two terms (2004-2012) and as an Alexander County Commissioner for two terms (2014-2018 and 2020-2024).

Herman, age 66 of the Ellendale Community, was elected in 2022 to fill the remainder of the late Jeff Peal’s unserved term. Kent is married to Martha Reid Herman and has three children: Tiffany Stephenson, Stephanie Wright, and Colby Herman. He has six grandchildren and is the son of the late Ned and Kay Herman. Mr. Herman is a lifelong resident of Alexander County and is a conservative Republican. Herman has served on the Alexander County Soil and Water Board for more than 23 years, the National Milk Producers Federation Board in Washington, D.C., the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) Board in Kansas City, Kansas, and is the current chairman of the Southeast Council of DFA and is on DFA’s executive board. DFA is the largest dairy co-operative in the United States. Kent Herman, along with his late brother, Rodney, and his late father, Ned, has operated Herman Dairy Farm, Inc., since 1979. He also operates a beef and poultry business and H&H Arena along with his son and son-in-law. He is a member of Mt. Herman Baptist Church and a partner of Country Grace Church.

Rhyne, age 56, of Stony Point, is owner of Brigette’s Staffing, Inc., in Taylorsville. She is a member of Stony Point Baptist Church and President of the Alexander County Public Education Foundation. Her family includes: Monte Rhyne (husband), three children – Alex Rhyne (Savannah), Felicia King (Taylor), and Evan Rhyne; and one grandson, Landrey Rhyne. Mrs. Rhyne’s political background includes having been elected to four terms on the Alexander County Board of Education, on which she has served since 2008.

Whisnant, age 59 of Taylorsville, is a 1982 Hickory High School graduate. He joined the military directly out of school and received the US Army Commendation Medal. He served as administrator for 20 years at Blessed Hope School for Children, taking at-risk children into his home, and pointing them to Jesus Christ. He is currently employed as an auto body technician.
Whisnant and his wife, Crystal, have three children, Lauren Paris, Danielle Gilreath, and Jake Whisnant, and five grandchildren. Whisnant is a member of Oxford Baptist Church. He is currently involved with Liberty First Grassroots, a group of individuals working towards election integrity and government transparency.

Candidates outline their goals for Alexander County

The candidates responded with answers to the following question which The Times asked: What are your goals, short-term and long-term, for Alexander County? Touch on all the areas you feel are important and the ways you will address these goals.

Kent Herman: “Say no to raising property taxes in the county. I am the only incumbent commissioner that voted not to raise taxes. Would like to see an emergency center in the county. I will continue to work for our fire departments, emergency management and sheriff departments. I would like to see the public confidence restored to our public school system. I would like to see our technical community college expand to prepare our children for a future career. I am a conservative Christian and I would appreciate your support.”

Joshua Lail: “My goals for Alexander County are pretty simple. Do what’s best for the people of Alexander County. What’s best for the people of Alexander County? I’ve learned there are varied opinions when it comes to that question, as there should be. I’ve also learned over the past few years that everyone has different priorities and passions when it comes to what our county government does or does not do. Alexander County is made up of a lot of really good, hardworking and caring people who deserve to be listened to by their elected officials. Thus, my goal is to listen and work to continue to improve our county.
“My specific goals for our county include: Cutting our property tax rate, helping the school system provide the best education possible while being more efficient through working together, expanding our parks & recreation facilities for all ages, expanding opportunities for veterans and our seniors, and promoting growth in the county while preserving our rural areas and farms.
“I don’t separate short term and long term goals. I believe we need to be working on all of our goals and/or needs now. That’s what I plan to do,” Lail commented.

Brigette Rhyne: “My goal for Alexander County is to make it the best it can be. I would like to see growth throughout our entire county, making it easier to offer services to all residents. I would start by promoting our great county for families to move to. We need to provide affordable starter homes so that families have a place to live. This would increase our property tax base (so that we do not have to raise taxes) and increase student enrollment in our school system. I love our county and believe that people would choose to live here over larger neighboring counties, bringing more money to our county. An advantage to small town living and small schools is family friendliness. Each community in our county is tight knit, offering a helping hand, and taking care of one another when needs arise. I believe all citizens of Alexander County love this county and want a bright future for all. I will promote unity among all citizens. When our communities work together, we can accomplish a lot.
“I would also promote business and industry to come here by working with our Economic Development, continuing to promote our county in a positive way.
“I will work with other Commissioners, ALL county employees and ALL departments, Alexander County Schools, county committees, our representatives in Raleigh and Washington, and outside organizations to make Alexander County the county that we are proud to call home. I have always believed that right is right and wrong is wrong. I will do my best to make decisions for our county based on this belief.
“I appreciate your support in the upcoming Primary,” Rhyne said.

John Whisnant: I believe the desire of every citizen in Alexander County would be that they have a representative among the commissioners that will represent them with integrity. As a Christian conservative, Army Veteran, and American Patriot, I have watched integrity and transparency be pushed to the side in our country and our county for personal agendas. I don’t have a personal agenda other than to be honest in representation and prayerfully consider every important decision. I will do my best to answer questions and address concerns of the citizens.
“I have a strong interest in the area of our education system. I feel with the current superintendent leaving, a new superintendent should be thoroughly vetted and be found to be moral, fiscally responsible, and have a strong desire to see children educated and not indoctrinated.
“As a former administrator working with children, I am concerned with the direction the education system is/has been taking and feel falling numbers in our own public schools shows the concern of many parents in our county who are concerned with their children’s education. Parents need to be heard and their ideas, questions, and concerns addressed.
“Recently I have been approached by farmers, Fire and Rescue, teachers, county workers, citizens who all share the same desire above everything, fiscal responsibility and accountability, in light of the lack of these in our county over the past few years.
“Given the current economic state in which we find ourselves, to include inflation, recent tax increases, and job loss in our county, we must look for ways to lift the burden off our citizens and be conscientious in our spending. I think we should revisit the recent tax increase and look at the possibility of reducing that increase to better serve our county.
“Having said this, I think it would be presumptuous and disingenuous to believe, or to say I can change anything independently, on my own. Every commissioner has a voice and gets a vote. However, I can say I am, and desire to be, honest and forthright. I will hear and voice citizens’ concerns brought to me. I will make decisions based on what I believe is best for the citizens, and will not go against what I believe is in the best interest of Alexander County and those who reside here.”

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