Stephens focuses on county’s future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Republican Jason Stephens has focused his campaign for the open county commissioner’s seat on the future of Lawrence County.

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Republican Jason Stephens has focused his campaign for the open county commissioner’s seat on the future of Lawrence County.

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"I firmly believe the county is at a crossroads and needs to look at the future," Stephens said.

The county should embrace new technology businesses, whether that’s e-commerce or the planned natural gas to electricity plant, he said.

"I want to continue to actively pursue that type of business from the leadership level of the commissioners office."

Stephens, 29, and his wife, Juli, have two sons and live in Getaway. He attended Chesapeake schools, then graduated from Princeton High School in West Virginia after moving there with his family, he said.

Stephens graduated from economics and business management school at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn. He is a certified financial planner.

The county’s pressing need is a combination of leadership and financial know-how, because all the government’s troubles now are of a financial nature, Stephens said.

The Union-Rome Sewer District is heading into the red, there is a question of how to build a new jail without raising taxes and general budget constraints, he said.

"That’s where my expertise and training as a financial planner comes in where I could provide assistance," Stephens said.

The candidate suggested that instead of waiting until a crisis, plan ahead. For example, put aside money to fix problems later, like sheriff’s cars that are known will wear out, Stephens said.

"The most important job is making responsible decisions with taxpayers’ money," he said. "I worked at Banker’s Trust as a 401k plan manager. I’ve dealt with CEOs and have the experience dealing with finance and upper level management in companies."

The county also needs to take a balanced approach with economic incentives and tax breaks to attract new industry, Stephens said.

"I’m not against giving tax breaks but we don’t want to hurt the school systems and, at the same time, we need to make sure that companies here still want to stay here," he said.

Stephens suggested taking an open door policy with existing business and maybe starting some type of incentive program.

If elected, Stephens said he will also focus on the county’s many communities, especially for water service.

"We should put together a comprehensive plan on who does not have water and make a plan for them to access clean drinking water," he said. "I would like to see that by 2005."

The Internet should also play a role in the county’s future, Stephens said.

Lawrence County needs better communications lines because it’s infrastructure that new companies need, he said.

Better communication can mean online county services – dog licenses, the results of the last election, applications, Stephens said.

"You need to make sure people do business face-to-face but online government makes it easier for citizens to get information," he said.

Stephens will face Democrat opponent Ron James in the Nov. 7 General Election.