4 seek 3 seats on County Board
(October 21, 2020 Issue)
Voters will go to the polls in a local competitive race Nov. 3 to elect three members of the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners from a candidate list of four.
Incumbents Johnny Hutchins, Kings Mountain, Ronnie Whetstine, Shelby, board Vice-Chair, political newcomers Kevin Gordon of Shelby, all Republicans, and Democrat Shaun Murphy, Kings Mountain, face-off in the general election.
Susan Allen, board chairman, did not seek re-election because of planned family activities. Other members of the board not up for re-election this year are Republicans Doug Bridges and Deb
Hardin, both of Shelby.
“Cleveland County has always been my home,’’ said Johnny Hutchins. He continued, “After serving in the United States Army I returned to Kings Mountain to start and raise my family. Over 20 years I volunteered and was Captain of the Kings Mountain Rescue Squad, so leadership and service define who I am.
‘’After retiring from the mining industry I felt the need to do something that would help better the lives of my children and grandchildren, so instead of talking about it I ran for county commissioner. Working for the people of Cleveland County is an honor,’’ said Hutchins.
‘’I have great interest in improving and making this county the best it can be, for everyone, my greatest ‘’assets - live, work, worship and go to school here,’’ Hutchins added,
Since being elected Hutchins said he has dedicated himself, giving 100 percent to Cleveland County, county employees and the citizens. “As your county commissioner, I will continue to make myself easily accessible for your concerns and issues. There are many projects that I am a part of that need to be completed and I will continue to work diligently for the development of Cleveland County,’’ he added.
“My goals are simple - towork for the people to make Cleveland County a better place to live. Working with Economic Development, I have and will continue to support all public entities such as the Fire Departments, EMS and law enforcement to make certain they have the resources they need to continue to provide excellent service and protection for the county, Hutchins added.
“Thank you for your support. Together we can make a difference,’’ he added.
“As a native to Cleveland County it has been my ongoing desire to improve the place we live, work, play and worship,’’ said Ronnie Whetstine. He continued, “I feel our county and state is the best place in the country to reside.”
Whetstine says he has served on many boards and projects as he and his wife, Susan, raised their daughter and built WW Contractors, Inc. into a business that has provided over 300 homes for the citizens of the county.
He lists some of the accomplishments led by the commissioners and goals.
• Built and develop Cleveland County for growth.
• Protect our conservative Christian values.
• Keep taxes low.
• Grow our workplace by promoting economic development including innovative ideas such as the Charlotte Back Yards program.
• Tele-medicine expanded from Graham School to Marion and Jefferson Elementary in Shelby and North, East, West and Bethware in Kings Mountain.
• County-wide insurance rating for property owners decreased an average of $15 per month due to implementation of VFD Strategy Plan.
• Accelerate Cleveland-Program to help under-employed to move up to higher paying jobs which help employers advance and employers find higher qualified workers. Graduate salaries doubled after placement. (average wage approximately $42,000.)
• Find more efficient ways of doing business, including replacement of out -dated IT and software systems. First upgrade in over 30 years.
• Work to improve overall health of the county by supporting green spaces, trails, parks and the West End Reach.
• Support all 15 municipalities within the county by sharing information, resources and working together on projects.
Kevin Gordon says his opportunity to fill one of the candidacy seats for county commissioner parallels his professional background and is of much interest after a 30-year career in public service including leadership roles in both city and county governments.
After retiring as Deputy Fire Chief for the Charlotte Fire Department in 2018 he serves as Director of Emergency and Fire Services for Gaston County.
Gordon is Chief Emeritus of the Waco Fire Department having served as a volunteer fireman since 1984 and for a number of years as Fire Chief. At Waco he led the transition of Waco Fire Department from a volunteer department to a combination department. A FLSA compliance program began July 1, 2017 paying stipends to volunteers and paid daytime firefighters. At Charlotte Fire Department he led a department of 1,207 and had a successful track record serving as chair of the joint legislative committee for NC State Firefighters Association and NC Association of Fire Chiefs and for five years instrumental in passing key pieces of legislation which became NC Session law. He is a past president of the NC Firefighters Association. Gordon resides in Shelby with his wife, Sherry, and their Labrador Retriever. The Gordons have two sons, Alex (Macy) and Zachary (Ann Marie) and grandson Elliott James Gordon.
Gordon ‘s platform:
• Strong advocate for all public safety agencies, unwavering support for the Sheriff’s Department, Fire
Departments, EMS, and Rescue Squads.
• Proficient in maximizing efficiency of county operations and resources by modernizing outdated systems, processes and technology.
• Champion of Economic Development and the creation of jobs with decent salaries and benefits to create sustainable growth within the county.
• Experienced fiduciary manager with over 30 years public service in both city and county operations.
• Steadfast proponent of fiscal sustainability, responsible spending, and effective use of county resources.
Dedicated to fiscal conservatism, protecting conservative values, transparency in the county operation and improving the health and wellness of our citizens.
• Facilitator of regional collaboration with adjoining counties and intergovernmental collaboration with the towns and cities in the county.
.Partner who will maintain the state-county relationship through effective communication and maintain positive working relationships at all levels to acquire needed resources for our citizens.
Born in Shelby and raised in Kings Mountain, Shaun Murphy’s mother and father were soldiers. A 2004 graduate of Kings Mountain High School, he attended Appalachian State University from 2011-2013. He says since a young boy he has been a big fan of food, video games, music and swimming.
“Learning life lessons the hard way eventually taught me that I really wanted to do something to give back to the community and that I could serve a higher purpose than just existing. I got my start serving on the John Henry Moss Reservoir Commission from June 2017-19 when I moved outside Kings Mountain city limits,’’ said Murphy.
Growing up in Cleveland County all his life, Murphy said he’s more than qualified to have an influence and interest in what happens in the county.
Said Murphy, “I know what it’s like to work long hours for not enough pay like so many of our residents do every day. While I can relate to many I feel I can better relate to anyone who has ever needed a second chance at anything or has ever had to start over from scratch. I know that life is not always perfect and that sometimes struggle is necessary to get to a better position. With me as county commissioner I promise to struggle for us all to get to a better position, a position where we can all thrive.”