Early voting starts today for the May 6 Primary Election, which includes a Republican race for the District 6 seat on the Craven County Board of Commissioners between Lee K. Allen and George Liner.
Allen, 78, has been on the Craven board for more than 19 years after spending 11 years as a commissioner in Havelock. He was a Navy corpsman for 22 years active and for eight years in the Navy Fleet Reserves. Since then, he has been a part-time electrician.
Liner, 67, has been a Havelock commissioner for seven years. He served in the Marine Corps for more than 29 years and then worked in civil service for15 years the last three of which he was the real estate manager for Cherry Point.
Allen said his “background and experience” qualifies him to serve another term. He lists among his accomplishments the creation of the Havelock campus of Craven Community College, the Havelock Tourist and Event Center and the Havelock-Craven County Public Library.
Allen worked for 27 years as a trainer for the Havelock High School football team and was tournament director for regional and state tournaments for the Little League for Girls.
“I’m young enough that I feel I have enough energy and vision for Craven County and Havelock to continue on,” Allen said. “I don’t have an agenda. I’m not going in there because I have an ax to grind. I believe in smaller government. I believe in lower taxes.”
Liner said he decided to run for county office because he didn’t believe the southeast portion of Craven County had strong enough representation.
“I felt like the city of Havelock and this end of the county was getting no representation or no voice speaking for this end of the county, and I felt we needed to have a voice to be heard,” Liner said. “I think there are a number of issues that brought it for me, but the key issue was the withdrawal of funding for the congregate meals program for the seniors both here in Havelock and in Harlowe. To take and isolate a portion of the county, I think, was unfair.”
Allen said a committee within the Craven County Department of Social Services made the recommendation to end the meals program based on federal and state guidelines.
“They set the priorities on where the money should go,” Allen said. “They tell us this is our budget and this is what we have to do to maintain the program and that was what happened to the congregate meals. They would maybe order 15 meals and four people would show up. What do you do with the rest of the meals? And that happened a lot.
“When the congregate meals program started in Havelock, I was right in the middle of it. As a matter of fact I was one of the servers behind the line to feed the first several congregate meals so I played what I thought was a supportive role in the congregate meals. I was very disappointed when it happened that way in Harlowe and Havelock, but they had to cut back somewhere.”
Liner said another issue he has is what he calls an unfair funding formula for the Havelock library. He said Havelock pays about $54,000 to $59,000 per budget year to keep the library operational, a far higher percentage than Cove City and Vanceboro pay for county libraries to operate in their cities.
“The library is a county library. No argument,” Liner said. “It’s theirs. It’s all theirs, but over the years, to keep it operational, Havelock has stepped forward to keep it open with a 35/65 percent cut. It goes back to the formulation of how they came up with figures to provide money. It doesn’t make sense that Cove City, Vanceboro gets the same amount of money that Havelock receives, but they are not required to put in any other funding of their own. Havelock puts in anywhere from $54,000 to $59,000 to keep it operational. I would like to see that completely changed. An equitable share needs to be looked at.”
Liner said an unwritten understanding is that the Havelock library budget is divided, with Havelock paying 35 percent and the county providing 65 percent.
“That was never the case,” Allen said. “I’ve never heard of that. The only time that that ever came up was when they were talking about the computers.”
Allen said what is far less known is that the county budget contains about $30,000 in the Craven Community College budget that goes to support the Havelock library.
“… When you see the money in the budget for the library in Havelock you have to consider that there’s $30,000 additional to that to cover expenses that the library in Havelock does not have to incur any longer because it’s done through the community college,” Allen said. “As a practical matter and as evidenced by tradition, the county generally does not infuse any money into any municipality for infrastructure or other things that the county has no jurisdiction over.”
Both men have been making speaking appearances. Liner said he would be going door-to-door to speak with voters. Both encouraged everyone to vote.
District 6 has been redrawn for the 2014 election and includes most areas of Havelock that are mainly south and west of U.S. 70, including Stately Pines and Carolina Pines.
The winner of the primary will face Arland Bell, who is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary, in the Nov. 4 General Election.
Early voting begins today. In Havelock, early voting will take place 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays through May 3 at the State Farm Complex at 288 U.S. 70 West at the entrance to the Westbrooke subdivision. Other early voting sites include the Board of Elections office at 406 Craven St., in downtown New Bern as well as the fire departments in Cove City, Rhems and Vanceboro.
For more voter information, call the Craven County Board of Elections at 636-6610 or go online to the elections website at www.cravencounty.com/departments/elc.cfm.