By Catharin Shepard
Local business owner Cliff Overby is seeking one of three seats for a four-year term on the Hoke County Board of Commissioners.
Overby, a Democrat, is one of 12 candidates who have filed to run in the commission race.
The candidate earned a degree in business administration from Methodist College.
He and his wife moved to Hoke County to set up their printing business, Friendly Reminders. Overby has operated the business for 18 years.
“We built it from scratch, it was not handed or given to us, and we anticipated this being our retirement account,” he said.
This is the first time he has run for office. Among his community activities, Overby volunteered with a suicide crisis line for about seven years, logging in thousands of hours of service, and has also served on the Habitat for Humanity board and the Raeford-Hoke Chamber of Commerce board. He and his business contributed to school functions and the Turkey Festival over the years too, he said.
The candidate said he decided to run for commissioner because he was concerned about several of the other candidates who filed to seek the office.
“I read the paper and I saw that there were several names on there that offended my senses as a person and a voter, that they would even put their names on the ballot. It’s totally offensive. Once I saw that, saw what was going to be offered to the county for somebody to vote, and I talked to other people that would maybe be running, would be good candidates, nobody was interested,” Overby said. “I decided that I would be damned if those were the only two names on the ballot, that we had a disbarred attorney in 2004that is public record, if you’d like to look, the bar association will be glad to share that information with youand we also have a person that may be as overwhelmed in his job and that can be read about in numerous newspapers as well, concerning Tony Hunt’s current situation.”
Overby said that given the issues at hand, he felt Hunt “has too many irons in the fire” to be an effective commissioner.
“His attention is flung to too many places, it is not with this county,” Overby said.
The candidate also said he is concerned how candidate Harry Southerland would handle the county finances and how that would affect Overby’s future as a taxpayer and business owner. The lack of business owners on the current commission board is of concern to the candidate too, he added.
If elected, Overby said, he would like to audit the county’s projects and encourage greater transparency.
“One of the first things I would like to do is have them open and be completely honest and transparent, and let’s have an audit. Let’s audit the things that are currently going on, have gone on,” he said.
The candidate also said he would like to address the sweepstakes gambling machines in the county, among other matters.
“Gambling sweepstakes would be addressed, money, the budget, what the budget is used for. As a new person, I need to go in and familiarize myself with what has been done that can be done in a very different way,” Overby said. “Many things need to be made available to the public, to the citizens of Hoke so they can make good, informed decisions of how this county’s going. There’s no reason to keep this locked up behind closed doors.”
The candidate pointed to the process used for allowing the public to address the commission board during public meetings. There are limits on how long and how often citizens can speak before the board.
“Over a year, you can speak to the county commissioners for 12 flipping minutes? My God, something needs to be done,” Overby said.
The candidate said that local government concerns are among the biggest issues facing Hoke.
“Everything is so unclear; you cannot get a clear-cut answer from anyone, cannot get a timely answer from anyone. Every issue is a big issue, the fact is that pretty much all of the issues are large issues to me,” he said. “I just question how they’ve come about, why they’ve come about, why they’ve been handled in a poor manner, that is all in my opinion. I am a businessman foremost and I believe that the county commissioners are just that. I would take the job very seriously; however, I need people to work with.”
The candidate said if he is elected he would like to consider forming specialty boards for bringing back more information about different issues before the commission.
Overby said that voters should consider casting a ballot for him because he is very passionate about what he does and would bring that passion to being a commissioner.
“I have a very strong voice, I am solid, I’m a free thinker, I am again a fresh voice. I’m solid, I’m dependable, and I have a passion to get in here and let’s get this county where it needs to go,” he said.
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