Last updated: August 20. 2013 3:08PM - 1526 Views
Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter

Mark Harris, Senate contender and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, visits the Yadkin County GOP to rally the party's leaders for the upcoming 2014 election.
Mark Harris, Senate contender and senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, visits the Yadkin County GOP to rally the party's leaders for the upcoming 2014 election.
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Yadkin’s Republican Party met the man who hopes to run Kay Hagan out of office last week.

Mark Harris, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, is campaigning for senator of North Carolina in the 2014 election.

He stopped in August 13 to a Yadkin County GOP meeting and introduced himself to the attendees, hoping to rally them in support of his upcoming run at Hagan’s Senate seat.

“It’s no secret that North Carolina has a real opportunity in 2014 to correct a major mistake that was made in 2008, and that is to replace our current U.S. Senator Kay Hagan,” Harris said.

Harris spoke prior to the scheduled meeting and told Republicans he was the conservative the state needed to represent it in the Senate.

Harris cited the marriage amendment in North Carolina as the reason he first began considering politics, saying after much prayer he felt led to run.

Harris told the GOP that the last two presidential candidates the party fielded - Senator John McCain and Mitt Romney - were not the conservative figures the party needed.

“The reality is, and I say again nobody wants to really hear the truth … you guys have forgotten, the folks that are out there shivering on election day, handing out those press cards, they’re your conservative, Evangelical, social conservative voters, and they’re looking for somebody to be excited about it.”

Sales Tax Increase

Following Harris’ exit the party took to its normal business.

GOP Chair Bodie Wingler gauged the room to see what the feeling was regarding a potential sales tax increase in the county.

Commissioners Frank Zachary, David Moxley and Marion Welborn were in attendance and answered questions concerning the proposal, which would allow the commissioners to potentially place a sales tax increase on a future ballot as a referendum.

Wingler and the commissioners presented the sales hike as a way to possibly lower property taxes in the county.

The tax hike would increase the county sales tax from 6.75 percent to a flat 7, in line with the state’s. The tax would not apply to food items or medicine, Wingler said. Gas would not be applicable either.

“In other words it wouldn’t affect little old ladies on Social Security, but it would allow people going through the county, those that don’t have anything in the county, to help pay some of these taxes,” Wingler said. “For every dollar it’s one quarter [of] one penny.”

Wingler opened it to the floor, where there was some skepticism.

One man told the audience that there were not enough sales done in the county to justify the increase.

“I would be really surprised if the numbers did exactly because we don’t have any real retail sales,” the man said.

Another man responded across the room by saying, “More retail is done on Hanes Mall Boulevard in a weekend than we sell in a month.”

Wingler estimated that the tax would bring in $400,000 extra each year. That amounts to roughly 1.3 percent of the whole county’s budget, Wingler said.

Brady Wooten said, “I would discourage increasing the tax rate. The more money that government has got, the more money government will spend.”

“So was that your experience when you were a commissioner?” Wingler answered. “I’m just asking because that’s pretty much a direct insult to three individuals in this room.”

Wingler and the commissioners said the board had voted to lower taxes twice in three years. That history, they hoped, would help reassure people in the county to trust them to handle the increase responsibly.

When asked if they would lower property taxes as a result, commissioners said they could but were not able to promise that.

When someone in the crowd spoke up and said the Republicans would look badly for campaigning against no new and higher overall taxes, and then raising it themselves, Wingler said there was nothing the small number of Yadkin County Democrats could do.

Wingler urged the board to vote in support for it, saying he had voted against a similar measure in the past but would vote for it now if he had it to do over.

“The people who voted it down last time, they didn’t know what they were voting on,” Marion Welborn said. “I would vote for it.”

A vote was taken by the 12-member Executive Committee. Nine voted in favor with three against, one of which was Brady Wooten.

The vote will show support for the proposal if the commissioners decide to place the tax increase on a future ballot as a referendum.

Alcohol For All

Many of those present also voiced support for a new alcohol referendum for Yadkin County. They said the measure would allow the county to get a cut of alcohol sales before towns like Jonesville - which recently passed a controversial ruling to allow a referendum to go to a town vote - prevented the county from getting a piece of the action.

If a town passes the referendum and the county does not allow alcohol overall, the county is prevented from getting a percentage of the profits and the town pockets all of the money.

“They’re going to get it somewhere anyway,” was the popular phrase from many in the room.

“They’re going to buy it anyway,” Wingler said.

Seeing Red

Wingler and others spoke prior to the tax debate and discussed their continued efforts to turn the county totally red.

“I will tell you this, since our … back and forth with the newspaper and everything, I have turned a couple three families from the Democrat side to the Independent side,” Wingler said. “The last numbers I looked at was 5,493 Democrats [in Yadkin County], and I think the Republicans and the rest [had] close to 14,000. We’re gaining, they’re losing.”

Wingler followed the statistics by saying, “By Christmas, it would be my goal to see that number under 5,000. If we each talk to somebody, we can get that done.”

To contact Taylor Pardue call 336-835-1513 ext. 15, or email him at tpardue@civitasmedia.com.

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