A lot of people think commissioners show up once a month, vote on some things, and that is it. How much time, in hours, do you think you actually dedicate to work related to being commissioner?
Haven said that he has never considered the hours he puts into the job. “I try to communicate much more to the people but I have never added the hours,” said Haven.
Like Haven, Higdon hasn't considered the hours he puts in. “I don’t count hours, but spend quite a bit of time doing research, attending meets, etc.,” said Higdon.
Tate, Beale, and Corbin all estimated spending anywhere from 25 to 40 hours a week dedicated to duties associated with the job such as additional meetings, answering emails, and phone calls from voters.
What is the hardest part about being a commissioner?
Haven: “I hate dealing with politics.”
Tate: “I think the hardest part is time management. Shuffling commissioner duties along with family, church and work. Another difficult part is handling the back lash from individuals who disagree with a decision that you have made that might be unpopular with them, especially when that person is a close friend or family member.”
Corbin: “To begin with, it is hard to understand that everyone will not always agree with you. We do not live in a democracy, we never have. We in the USA live in a republic. This means that we are elected to gather all the information needed for a decision and make the decision based on the best information we have. It is impossible to poll the public on every decision, we are not elected to do that. Rather, we are elected to do the job. If folks are happy with us, then we are re-elected. If not, someone else will get the job next election.”
Beale: “Not being able to solve all the problems a citizen might have.”
Higdon: “The hardest part about being a commissioner is being in the minority on most spending proposals.”
What is your favorite part about being a commissioner?
Haven: “When we all have done a project or something great for Macon County.”
Tate: “My favorite part is meeting and getting to know the incredible people on a daily basis that call our county home. When I am able to serve our citizens and please their expectations, it makes me very happy.”
Corbin: “The part I like best as commissioner is that we really can make a difference in the lives of our community. Where other elected bodies are slow to move and it is difficult to take action, that is not the case as a commissioner. We can act locally for the benefit of our local community. As we hear often of our national government it takes an “Act of Congress” to make something happen. Here we can do it with three votes. With five commissioners, it takes a minimum of three votes to do anything. One or two commissioners can do nothing and can take no action that binds the county.”
Beale: “Being able to help the citizens solve as many of their issues as possible.”
Higdon: “The best part is being able to express my conservative views in public.”
Lastly, are there any other additional comments you would like to make to better help people understand all that it takes to be an elected official in Macon County?
“I want Macon County to continue being the best place on earth to live,” said Haven. “I am not a senator, governor, or representative. They are in Raleigh and I am here. I try to do a job that is fair to all citizens right here in Macon County. I will stand for us having services, schools, and freedom which is second to none.”
“First and foremost, it takes keeping in touch with the people to be effective,” said Corbin. “You listen more than talk and then make decisions based on the best information you have. It is not difficult to stand for what you believe is right. Being a commissioner is not always a popularity contest, but rather making the best decisions you can - based on the information you have. In the end, I believe folks in Macon County respect that.”
“One of the items that I had a misconception about in government is that I could immediately get things accomplished,” said Tate. “I have learned that nothing in government moves quickly. There is a process of checks and balances that was designed to make government move deliberately so that everything is scrutinized. This can be frustrating at times, so learning to be patient and to respect the process is important. The other time that I think would be good for people to know is that treating government employees and officials in a respectful manner will get them a better response than blasting them with anger.”
“It is an honor and privilege to work for the citizens of Macon County and as a commissioner you learn quickly that it doesn't matter what political party you belong to or what party the citizen belongs to. If they have a problem you need to be accessible and have knowledge of the county to assist,” said Beale.
“The most important thing about being an elected official at any level is to have a strong political philosophy and standing by that,” said Higdon. “I never make a decision based on whether I gain or lose support from the voters.”