“I just feel like I want to serve people and help people,” said Billy “Dean” White when explaining why he entered the race to become supervisor for the Iriswood district.
Reversion, funding for law enforcement and public safety, and education are the three main issues White sees facing the county right now and hopes to address each of them if he is successful.
Garrett Dillard, Eric Phillips, and Eric Bowling are also in contention for the post.
“I feel like the reversion process wasn’t handled correctly,” White said. “I think the schools should have been involved in it.”
He hopes that, between now and the Commission on Local Government’s (CLG) recommended date of reversion on July 1, 2023, the schools will become more involved in the process.
“Education is key,” he said, particularly in combating crime and violence in the county. “The crime rate in this county is through the roof. If we can educate kids and not incarcerate kids, we can stop that.”
Paying law enforcement officers competitive salaries also is a key to keeping crime rates low. Though he has not yet identified a source to fund deputy pay raises and is adamant that he does not want to increase taxes, White said that although he will face a learning curve if elected, he will work quickly to identify available funding options.
To help offset some expenses, White would like to institute a policy wherein, if a deputy is hired and trained at the expense of the county, they must reimburse the county for money spent on their training if they choose to leave the department before two years on the job.
White said he has a good relationship with Sheriff Lane Perry and suspects he and Perry could have productive conversations about the needs of law enforcement.
No matter what he may be working on if elected supervisor, he wants residents to be aware and involved.
“Transparency for me is everything,” White said, adding that community residents who know him already know he is an open book. “I’m out in the community a lot.”
He recalled when one or more supervisors would come to local churches, Ruritan clubs, and other gathering places in the community to meet with residents and hear concerns. He said much of that went away with COVID, but he would like to see it come back. In fact, White said he only recently learned supervisor meetings were again open to the public.
In listening to the people during his campaign, White learned that the county, particularly areas in his district, needs some basic infrastructure improvements including roads, water/sewer, and broadband access. Some children in the district, he said, had issues participating in virtual learning at the height of the pandemic because of poor internet service.
Across the county, White sees a healthy job market, though that, too, has its downside.
“We need to get the local workforce into existing businesses,” he said, before the county brings in more outside industry, which he worries will not be able to find enough qualified people to hire.
He also advocates for more vocational training to help create a stronger workforce.
If elected, White said he would be a hands-on, visible supervisor.
“You won’t just see me at the meetings,” he said, but also out in the community helping and participating where and when he can. He also would be a true voice for his constituents should he be chosen to represent them.
“You need a common person to reach common people,” he said, and added that “you need a common person to reach the common people,” and “I’ll be for the people, elected from the people.”