The Transylvania Times -

Kelvin Phillips Interview


Kelvin Phillips

Kelvin Phillips

Age: 58

Employment: Owner of K.P. Steel

Past elected offices or committees: Former county commissioner, and former Board of Education, Board of Health, and Planning Board member

Education: Western Carolina University, Blue Ridge Community College

Family Wife Gayla, two children, Ian and Jillian, and two grandchildren

Should you be elected, what would be your top three priorities as commissioner?

Jobs - and I know that's something that's being worked on. I am willing to go on the road myself. I'm tired of seeing young folks having to leave the county. We need to focus on common sense ways to attract some businesses.

Two, quality of life for our citizens. We've got good numbers in the service industry, but with the population aging as it is, it's not going to be enough, and we need to take care of our aging population.

Third, intertwined with that is keeping taxes low.

That is a great thing we can do. We also need to pay for things as we go. A good example of that is the Rosman Park. We don't ever want to let expenditures override revenue.

What is your position on the proposed Ecusta Trail project? Do you support it? Why or why not?

Number one, I'm in favor of keeping the rail line open. It's important to keep it open, perhaps not indefinitely, but it would be a shame to attract a business that needed a rail line and we no longer had one.

The second part of that is, I'm not opposed to Biking. But the way I understand it, the upper railway was supposed to revert back to the landowners.

That is a private property issue, and it should go back to the landowners.

What is your position on land-use planning? Are you in favor of it? Why or why not?

We are on the verge of talking about zoning. We could use an industrial site in this county.

When you start dictating in a rural area land use, we go back to property rights again. You have to be careful. I really am a supporter of property rights - period. I will always be protective of that. I think the Constitution protects that, and I will always protect the Constitution. Property rights are essential to freedom.

The Transylvania County Independent Economic Development Task Force recently named, as part of their recommendations to commissioners, a list of targeted industries that include: small/medium manufacturing, destination health club/spas, camps, sports health & wellness, events/conferences, music recording industries and motion picture industries. Do you agree with this list of targeted industries? Are there other industries you feel the county should also be targeting? Specifically, what do you think are the best ways to bring those industries to the county?

I don't disagree with the list, but I think we need to broaden our focus. We don't want "dirty industry," but we can't afford to be that selective in this area.

I'm not opposed to this list.

The City of Brevard has various staff positions and resources that assist in managing and operating the city. Do you think the county should provide the Town of Rosman with additional staffing and/or funding to help acquire grants, manage the town, etc.?

I think the first question should be, 'Do they want that?' The city of Rosman is an incorporated town. I don't think the county should make any decision for Rosman.

Usually, the cities and county try to work together, and I'm all for that. It would depend somewhat on what they desire help with.

They're an entity all their own.

In 2013, commissioners voted to enact a 12-month moratorium on the proposed biomass plant in Penrose and recently voted to enact a 90-day moratorium on cell tower applications. When do you feel moratoriums are appropriate? When are they inappropriate? Do you feel moratoriums send a negative message to prospective investors or are a necessary tool of a commissioner's job, in certain circumstances, to protect the interests of the community?

I'm in favor of moratoriums if it gives you time to access all the information that you can. Then, I'm not opposed to any moratorium. In some cases, throwing out a moratorium is just a way to avoid making a decision.

But once the information is in hand and disseminated to the public, the decision should be made. I don't see dragging that thing out.

I think they do send a negative message. In the case of the cell phone moratorium, they may have hurt property values in Connestee by not having it.

That also becomes a safety issue. Cell phone service is a given nowadays. It may never come to every nook and cranny in the county, but it's a service to our community.

In the past, the county has had no long-term plans concerning water. In light of recent events (such as the state's attempt to takeover Asheville's public water system) should the county become involved with Brevard and Rosman to devise a countywide water plan?

I don't see a problem with it as long as we're working together. I don't think the county should dictate to Rosman. Working together we could probably achieve some good things.

I would also like to see something worked out with the owners of the Davidson River Village site. They've already got a water system there coming out of the Davidson.

It would be incumbent on us to work that out with them. To me, that would also be a good industrial site.

Do you think the county adequately funds Transylvania County Schools? Do you think Transylvania County Schools adequately informs commissioners as to how those county funds are spent?

I've been on both sides of this issue. I obviously support education.

I support teachers and students. The blunt answer is yes - I think we do. There's always more that the schools could use. They do a pretty good job of planning maintenance and fixing things.

We may not ever be able to use what's asked for, but the commissioners have tried to be sensitive to what the schools needs.

For the most part, yes (I think the schools adequately inform). There's probably been some things that were missed, but I can't say I believe they were intentional. I think that has really improved over the last few years.


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