Compiled by Jesse Wood
Mark Templeton for Boone Town Council
Mark Templeton is running for Boone Town Council. Below is a prepared candidate statement drafted when he filed his candidacy earlier this summer. Following the statement is Templeton’s responses to a variety of hot-topic questions at the Boone Area Chamber’s “Candidate Forum” held in early October.
Templeton is a father, husband, business owner, and lifelong resident who wants to ensure that his family and yours grows up in a better Boone. Born and raised in Boone, Mark earned his BA from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee before coming home to work in the family business.
Templeton states the mission he shares with the people of Boone is that of encouragement, fairness, promotion, and good stewardship. “We should encourage re-development to improve vacant and run down properties. Advocate for jobs to bring the private sector back to town. Ensure accountability and transparency to the people, those who live, work, and do business here. Communicate with the Appalachian community, the County, and other municipalities. Be good stewards of tax dollars, bringing fairness and clarity to our UDO and 2030 plan,” said Templeton.
Templeton for Town Council recently released a new Facebook page located at https://www.facebook.com/votetempleton. “I encourage people to visit my Facebook page and view the issues, keep up with events, and share their thoughts for a better Boone.” Templeton posted a campaign video update on his page this morning. In which he says he received a very encouraging endorsement.
Video: Closing Statement from Candidate Forum
CANDIDATE FORUM Q&A
- Moderator: Given the fact Boone operates a multi-million dollar budget, what is your business experience and how will that benefit you in this position and what’s your best financial experience as well?
Mark Templeton: My name is Mark and I graduated with a business degree from Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., where I had extensive studies in accounting and finance. I worked in New York Life as a financial advisor where I received my [inaudible], which is related to investment products. Currently, I work for the family business, a for-profit business. The reason that is important is every decision we make is vitally important in whether or not we are successful in company. I am sort of getting my master’s degree in the school of hard knocks: learning the ropes, learning with trial and error.
- Moderator: Having witnessed disturbing and disruptive conflicts between the Boone Town Council and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, what is your plan to work with other governing bodies with the best interest of the taxpayer and greater community in mind?
Mark Templeton: I think the tensions arise because of partisan politics and in particular to political activists. Growing up in this community, I don’t remember that being the culture of Boone and so to the extent that we can avoid that, the better off we are going to be. According to the Democrat, in 2012, the town of Elizabeth City had 17 closed session meetings. In that same year, Asheville had 30 closed session meetings and in 2012, your town council had 78 closed session meetings. Now, I can’t say anything unethical is going on, but what I can say is that indicates they are not communicating with the voters. They are not communicating with the local elected officials on the county level. They are not communicating with the communities in Todd or with the neighboring counties like Ashe County. So the more we can get information to everybody, the better off we all are going to be.
- Moderator: Do you support moving forward with New River intake project and if not what do you see as alternative plan to ensure adequate water availability for growth and development of the area?
Mark Templeton: I think Jennifer said the buzzword I was looking for which was control. The questions is are we after the control of water or do ewe have a need for water. I oppose the current project has it is proposed. W.K. Dickinson, the company charged with doing the assessment, said in 2004 or 05 that we would be over 80 percent capacity. We weren’t. We hit 80 percent capacity, which is a big difference. They said in 2009, we would be at 90 percent capacity and we weren’t. Today, at 2013, we run about at 63 to 65 percent of average daily capacity. So if this document is our source that we are working off of, and it is already proven to be wrong on many counts, I think it would be unwise to use $25 million of the taxpayers’ money to continue on. Not to mention the fact the water committee, we have a liberal Mrs. Pam Williamson and a conservative Tim Wilson, both agree that neither one of them have enough information to make an educated assessment.
- Moderator: How do you see the change to the ad valorem sales tax distribution and the pending real estate revaluation impacting the town’s budget and how should it be addressed?
Mark Templeton: I think from a county perspective there are a few options. One is to raise taxes, which I don’t support. And the other is to streamline your operation, which I do support. The Town of Boone has traditionally spent of tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands on studies, surveys. We spend money on lobbyists and all of that can be done away with. We can look at our community and use the community as a resource to answer many of the complex issues that we face on a day-to-day basis. But it all starts with good communication. I think if we hold that as a priority, we’ll be just fine.
- Moderator: The Chamber, of course, is very interested in what happens to business here in this community. How do you see the UDO impacting the business that currently operate in or wish to operate in the Town of Boone, for example, the old Watauga High School property?
Mark Templeton: Well, regarding the high school. I can shed some light on that. The high school was not exempted from the affordable task force regulations. In fact, affordable task force urged, one of the town council members, urged the task force to pass these regulations because the high school is under contract and we need to get something done. Those were the words. Three months into the due diligence period, where we had spent over $70,000, we had the game changed on us. That’s why we dropped the contract. Ok, we’ve been waiting on the UDO to be streamlined forever. Look around town. That is the evidence you need. Look at the Scottish Inn. For 15 years, we’ve been looking at that building rotting to the ground. Look at the library across the street. We are watching it rot to the ground. The reason is because we lack the leadership at Town Council. Every developer and business owner is waiting on good leadership, so they can get something done.
- Moderator: Many vacant properties exist in Boone what would seem desirable tracts and many on major roads near the center of town. What would you propose to help move these properties from eyesores to useful properties?
Mark Templeton: Well, in regards to the high school, back to the high school. When that deal was going south, you know how many times we were approached by anybody from the Town of Boone wanting to know what they could do to help us. Zero. That’s a pretty big loss to the taxpayer. We have to communicate with one another. We have to work in a culture of what can we do to help you rather than what can we do to stop you. The Honda dealership here just used a bunch of local labor and poured over a million dollars in this local economy to make that dealership to look like a gem, and you know what the guys told me who were working on the project, ‘Sometimes Mark, I feel like the Town of Boone has a personal vendetta against us.’ As long as that is pervasive attitude of Town of Boone and its employees, we are not going to see great development of run down properties because nobody wants to put forth an investment when the risks are so high. When you buy a piece of property you don’t know what you can do with it. When you buy a piece of property you don’t know whether or not the town council is going to change the rules halfway through the process.
- Moderator: In the Town of Boone long-term plan related to economic development, it states area residents support different and more expanded economic activity only if it increases the opportunity for stable, higher-wage jobs and enhances the quality of life for existing residents. What specifically would you propose to do to accomplish this type of development?
Mark Templeton: I think the first thing to think about is we often here shop local, buy local. We need to start thinking build local. The simple fact is large developers who come to this area whether building Cracker Barrel or the Cottages seldom use local tradesman. We have carpenters, electricians and plumbers who are the best in their trade but can’t even get a bid in with these larger developers. Look at the other side of that, you’ve got local developers who almost exclusively use local professionals. So the extent to which we can repair the relationship with local people, the better off we are all going to be.
- Moderator: What are your views concerning the Daniel Boone Parkway to relieve traffic congestion in the Town of Boone?
Mark Templeton: Honestly, that the rate that the DOT works, I would have to ask my great great grandchildren how it turns out. But my personal opinion, Boone is the epicenter of this area, and to large extent, people are coming here; they are not going through Boone to go to Bristol or to Greensboro. They are coming to Boone to visit Appalachian State to watch a ballgame or see the leaves turn, and so I am not sure the effectiveness of a parkway for easing traffic congestion. I think that even if it was effective, it would be a long-time off before we would see any real changes or benefits to this community.
- Moderator: In light of projected 10-20-100 year flood maps, what are your thoughts on surface water mitigation in the Town along U.S. 321?
Mark Templeton: I think it’s a very important issue that we’ve put off long enough. I think when you are talking about storm water issues and development, obviously you are also talking about the health of our streams. A lot of people come to this area to fish, go floating down the river … like to bicycle along the road down in Todd. But to the extent that we protect that resource and we make sure we are good stewards of the environment and we need to be. As far as a solution to that, it’s going to take a huge collaborative effort. We will likely work with Army Corps of Engineers, talk with DENR and other government-related agencies and try to get some guidance on where to start on that process.
- Moderator: Share your vision on how you would like the town and ASU work together in the future. What major issues do you see htat need to be addressed and how would you work toward solutions?
Mark Templeton: I think Appalachian is most likely the most under utilized resource that we have in Boone. From the students that go there from the programs that they offer and the thousands of dollars that we waste every year on consulting firms that we could be subbing that out to college students. That would be a great start. I would like to see an internship program started at Appalachian to get students involved in our local economy. A lot of the students who go to Appalachian want to live here and I want to give them a reason to stay here and start their business here. That all starts with relationships. The best we can do foster those relationships, the better off we’ll be.
- Moderator: Regarding Howard Street: You know the only change taking place in 22 years is a one-way road from Depot Street to Water Street. As a businessperson in this community, I am frustrated that there is an awful lot of talk regarding and not a lot of action. Comments?
Mark Templeton: Parking is the foundation for any vibrant downtown area. And without it, it really doesn’t make any difference what we do with Howard Street. Saying that, we have spent tens of thousands of dollars studying Howard Street in the downtown area, and all we have to show for it is plastic cones. I don’t think there is one individual in this town that would come up that solution, but you put a bunch of people in a think tank or committee or have a study and that’s what we end up with. Sometimes government needs to back out from the question and ask the local business owners, what do they think, involve them in the process, we haven’t got the easements we needed. We need to talk to these people, ask what they need in exchange for these easements. I know they are willing to work with us. I have heard from them. The question is do we have people who can talk, can build a relationship, can broker a deal. I think I can do that for the town of Boone.