By Catharin Shepard
Incumbent candidate Tony Hunt is seeking reelection this year for another term on the Hoke County Board of Commissioners.
Hunt, a Democrat, has served on the board for 12 years and now hopes to be reelected for a fourth term.
Hunt, a minister, served in the military and earned several degrees including one in religion. He has been a member of many various community leadership and organization boards and was one of the first people to serve on the Lumbee Supreme Court. He worked with the school system doing family outreach and now serves as the Tribal Administrator of the Lumbee Tribe.
Hunt said he is running for reelection because the board has accomplished many good things in the last years and he hopes to be a part of continuing to work on the ongoing projects and needs, such as the county’s wastewater treatment plant now under construction.
“I want to see that through,” he said.
Hunt is currently involved in legal issues. Last November, he was charged with felony larceny, assault on a female, assault by pointing a gun, domestic criminal trespassing, resisting, delaying or obstructing a public officer, carrying a concealed weapon and communicating threats. Authorities with the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office alleged that Hunt put a gun to his wife’s head and threatened to kill her. The case is still in court. Asked if he would like to comment about the legal matter, the candidate declined.
The county is growing by leaps and bounds and Hunt said he sees that growth continuing and building to include more commercial development in Hoke.
“Our county’s growing, it’s not stagnant, we’ve got a growing county population-wise, economically, with developments coming in, with our wastewater treatment plant, which is really going to solidify the growth in our urban area,” he said. “Once you have that infrastructure in and folks know that you’ve signed contracts and they see the people out working, I think we’re going to start seeing restaurants start to show their interest in coming to Hoke County. We’re going to have those steak houses, we’re going to have those places where folks can have everything they need to do right here in Hoke County and not have to go to Cumberland County to do it.”
If reelected, the candidate said, he would like to focus on several matters including the school needs and the county services. Looking at ways to support the school system’s growing student population through school construction options is one of the things Hunt hopes to address during a fourth term.
“We have the overcrowding at the high school…I think that this present board, that members on this board, myself and Jean Powell, we’ve heard what the school wants and what they need, and we’ve worked well with them in the past. Helping ease that overcrowding will certainly be a top priority,” he said.
The biggest challenges the county is facing right now include the need to finish the ongoing utilities projects and to expand the parks and recreation offerings for the many families in Hoke, Hunt said. Examining the local Department of Social Services for ways to improve service for citizens is another of the matters Hunt sees as a concern for the county. State-mandated changes to the food stamp program have presented issues for Hoke’s office as well as the offices around the state, and funding a variety of state-required programs through the office is one of the commission’s duties.
“We’ve had that turnover and we have to make sure we continue to implement the things that the state is handing down and that our DSS department has the tools they need to implement all the things that are coming down, all the changes that are coming down from the state level,” Hunt said. “Most of the time, those mandates are mandates without funding, so we have to find ways of funding for what we’re mandated to do.”
The recreation department is another key piece of the puzzle because it provides children with positive activities right here in the county, he said.
“I think that that’s one of the places that we see a big growth, because every time a family moves in, most times children move in with them and they utilize our parks and rec,” Hunt said. “We have to continue to grow our parks and rec in a way that it gives service to the whole county. We have a park on 211, but we have other parks that we have to continue to utilize and hopefully Sandy Grove Middle School, we can utilize it with our parks and rec and have a good partnership with our schools to make sure that all the kids have a good opportunity to participate in parks and rec.”
One possible way to address the need for recreation facilities could be to build a “substation” recreation area in the eastern part of the county where the growth boom is centered, the candidate added. Having facilities not only available but available close to home for families is a big concern.
“(That way) they can be right in the geographical area and receive the parks and rec services that they need,” he said.
Hunt’s years of experience in working for the people of Hoke are why voters should cast a ballot for him, the incumbent said.
“I think that my track record speaks for itself,” he said. “I think that when people vote for me, they vote for someone who is for Hoke County, for all of Hoke County.”