By Catharin Shepard
Eight years after leaving his seat on the Hoke County Board of Commissioners to run for sheriff, Charles Daniels is once again seeking political office.
Daniels, a Democrat, is one of 12 people who have filed to run for one of three seats up for election on the commission this year.
The late Raeford mayor Bob Gentry was Daniels’ mentor when he ran for office for the first time in 1998. At that time, Gentry told Daniels he could be one of two kinds of commissioner: a dedicated commissioner, or one who ran just to get his name out in the public.
“I said, no, I’m running to serve the people,” Daniels recalled.
Daniels served on the commission from 1998 to 2006, when he chose to give up his seat in a failed bid for sheriff. Now, the candidate said, he’s running for office again because he hopes to get local elected officials working more closely together.
“I believe in fighting and I think that the school board, the Hoke County Board of Commissioners and the city council got to join together. You can’t go your separate ways, because what affects one affects others,” he said. “Each one of us has separate duties and separate responsibilities, but the bottom line is we represent the people of Hoke County.”
Born and raised in Hoke County, Daniels has owned and operated Daniels’ Service Station for 24 years and continues working there with his son and niece. He and his wife Dottie have two grown children and six grandchildren.
Some of Daniels’ big projects during his eight years on the commission included working to get the Palmer Street extension to keep turkey trucks from driving through downtown Raeford on their way to Highway 20, and working with the board to get Don Steed Elementary built. A casual conversation he had with Jim Hendrix ended in Hendrix donating 50 acres of land for the school, Daniels recalled.
The candidate said one of the things he would like to accomplish if elected is to get the commissioners working more closely with the Hoke County Board of Education and the Raeford City Council. That way, it’s not just five elected officials working toward achieving the goals but 15 local elected officials pulling together who can get things done for citizens, he said.
“When you’ve got 15 elected officials, they’ll stand up and look,” he said.
Working hard to bring in outside money is one of the major matters the candidate said he would like to address if he is elected. Bringing in money from Raleigh or other sources to build schools, roads or make other necessary improvements is one way to keep Hoke taxpayers from footing the bill on big projects, Daniels said.
Addressing the need for expansion at Hoke High is another major issue.
“One of the biggest problems at the high school today is overcrowding. I have walked down hallways and people are bumping into one another changing class, they’re running to get from one class to the other, they bump into one another, drop their books and stuff. It’s a disaster,” he said. “We’ve got to do something about the high school, and we can do something.”
Daniels said he is in favor of something like the proposed third campus that the school board seeks to build on the adjacent high school property, and wants to consider looking at buying additional property around the campus, too. It should be possible to do it without having to use a lot of local funding, he said.
“The lottery money is for school construction, and I’m sure that we could build a campus over there with very little county money if we go after it, if we fight for it. But if you don’t go after it and you don’t fight for it, you aren’t going to get it. They’re not just going to give it to you,” Daniels said.
Daniels said that the tax revaluation and property taxes are some of the biggest problems facing Hoke County right now. The tax revaluation came in too high, and the county needs to get its tax rate down, he said.
Looking at putting more emphasis on the Carolina Horse Park and surrounding area could be the key to triggering more development in the western part of Hoke County, the candidate said. Existing horse parks in other areas, such as Raleigh, are landlocked and can’t expand further even though they’re running out of room. That’s an opportunity for Hoke, Daniels said.
“I think that with the facility we’ve got here and with the vacant land we’ve got around it, I still think that Carolina Horse Park has the potential. And you talk about if something like that happens, you’re going to see that area bloom just like you’ve seen (in) the east area,” he said.
Voters should cast a ballot for Daniels because of his proven record as a commissioner, he said.