By Catharin Shepard
Former Hoke County Veterans Service Officer Freddie McPhaul announced last week that he plans to run for a seat on the county board of commissioners.
Several people approached McPhaul about running for the board and he felt it was time to go for it, the candidate said.
“I told them I still love my county and if they got the committee together I would run, because you got to have community backing, and I feel like I have that,” he said.
McPhaul said he is interested in becoming a commissioner because he hopes to be part of the county’s leadership.
“To me, commissioners are supposed to be the leadership of the county and I feel I’m a good fit for that,” he said. “True leadership ability, I have great common sense, and there are things going on in Hoke County and things I feel that are being overlooked and I feel until we get someone that has a broader perspective, we’re never going to move.”
McPhaul, who grew up in Dundarrach, has owned and operated a moving business for about 20 years. He is a military veteran and involved in the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion. He attended the University of Maryland, Texas Tech and Sandhills Community College for training in computers, English and substance abuse counseling. He volunteers with the Hoke Reading and Literacy Council, the North Carolina Turkey Festival, Habitat for Humanity and Parks and Recreation, among other organizations. He and his wife Jenny have been married for 32 years and have two grown children, Freddie and Debbie.
If elected, McPhaul said he hopes to address issues including economic development, growth and education. The county is one of the fastest growing in the nation and that presents special challenges, he said.
“From an economic standpoint, when you want business to come to your county, they’re going to look at how many houses you have, how many apartments you have. They look at education, they look at education of the workforce, they look at schools, because when they move in, they want to know they have a force that they can tap into.”
Without that educated workforce, large companies aren’t going to be attracted to an area, McPhaul said.
If elected to the commission, his top priority would be to pull the board together to work toward common goals.
“We need to look at everybody working as one to better our county and our community, and I don’t see that being done. We need to look at leadership as being role models. You’ve got to lead by example, that’s what we need,” McPhaul said.
Reducing crime and supporting law enforcement in the county are another goal for the candidate.
“Our sheriff works on it, but it’s a community thing. We have to come together. We have to look at the crime that’s being committed. Regardless of who it is, no one is above the law, we need to work on that,” he said.
Focusing on bringing jobs to the county would be a priority for McPhaul if he is elected to the board. Working with existing businesses to get them to employ locals is also important, he said.
“The employers that we have, are they employing Hoke County citizens? Or are they driving in from other counties to work here and take their money back to their counties?” McPhaul said.
And while locals want to shop and dine in Hoke, many still go out of the county for dinner or shopping. Attracting restaurants and stores to the county would be a big economic boost, he added.
Right now, the biggest issues facing Hoke County are growth and education, the candidate said. A moratorium on housing development might be something he would consider if elected.
“A lot of people don’t want to hear it, but a moratorium on development until we catch up with development, ‘cause we’re not catching up, development is outrunning us,” he said.
This is McPhaul’s second time running for commissioner. He said in August of 2012 that he was forced to resign from the VSO position after Commissioner Ellen McNeill brought up concerns about statements he made about the county while he ran for office. McNeill, who is not running for reelection this year and was not running for reelection in 2012, said at the time that she had known McPhaul for a long time and approached him because she felt some of his actions while campaigning were “a direct conflict” of policy, she told The News-Journal in August of 2012.
Asked about the situation, McPhaul said he was only in the VSO position to help veterans and has no ill will toward the county.
“When my interest in doing more in the county came into play to affect my job, well, you try to run for county commissioner but you’re working as the county vet rep, then I need to leave as working for your county vet rep, because even though I felt that shouldn’t hinder my ambition, but as being my employer, if that’s the way you feel, I should leave,” he said.
McPhaul said voters should cast a ballot for him because he would like to bring change to the county.