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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Tricia Jackson-Republican for County Commissioner-Harpers Ferry District-Jeff Cty WV

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Welcome to this edition of the Richard Urban Show. I’m your host Richard Urban, coming to you from historic Harpers Ferry, WV. We present news and views from God’s point of view. Today, May 30, we’re very happy to have Tricia Jackson on. She is running for County Commissioner, on the Republican ticket. So please introduce yourself.

“So I am Tricia Jackson. I’m running for county commissioner Harpers Ferry District on the Republican ticket. I will be on the Republican primary ballot. If you’ve already started with the early voting, which started yesterday, you probably saw my name on the back of the ballot,” Jackson said.

Richard: I know you have experience. You’re an entrepreneur. Tell us a little more about this and your background. Why you’re running? Why did you decide to run? What are the most important points you want to emphasize as you’re running for this position?

“I am small business owner, an entrepreneur.  I have an HR consulting firm called Next Generation Human Resource Solutions, I provide human resource services to small emerging businesses in the Eastern Panhandle or Virginia, Maryland. Everything pretty much from hiring to performance-related issues, disciplinary action, terminations, handbooks, standard operating procedure manuals, benefits administration or management, just kind of a pillar of advisement to a lot of small businesses in managing their workforce.  I commuted to northern Virginia, my career, for about 25 years.  I’ve been a lifelong resident of Jefferson County, so that commute became a bit too much.  I’ve got my degree in Business Administration from Liberty University with the concentration of project management”, Jackson said.

“So I that’s a little bit about my background. I decided that after meeting some small business owners in the area, my services could be used [unclear audio]. So I came back home, started my own business and that’s what I’ve been doing this for about three years now. I work from home. I’m solopreneur, I guess you could say, ’cause it’s just me. That’s my background….  I serve as vice chair on the Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency.  I have been on there almost two years.  I am chair of their audit committee. So I’m really engaged and involved with our first responders, hands on, particularly with emergency services. So after being on that board for about a year and a half, I was prompted to run. You as well as myself live in a rural area of the county, where services aren’t always abundant or readily available to meet our needs. There are other outlying areas in the county as well,” Jackson added.

“So one of the things prompted me to run. Government gets bigger, my big thing. Governments getting bigger, demanding more of our money dipping their hands into our pockets. Services are getting smaller. So I lend a lot of my human resource project management, those types of experiences to the emergency services agency in helping them do some things around hiring and policies and procedures and that sort of thing. So, I want to lend my experience, my skill set to the county and help try to get some things in order.  I’ve seen first-hand, you’re sitting through budget meetings and so forth, wasteful spending. I believe that our emergency services personnel, that’s fire rescue, police – should be priority and in budget for our county. We’re providing essential services to the county, and I’ve set through budget meetings where they’re begging and pleading.” Jackson said.

Richard: How is the health of our emergency services, meaning how is the status of it? I saw somewhere, maybe in the recent commission history or recent years, or some argument over increasing or decreasing a fee for $5. I don’t know if you want to comment on that, but how, in general, is it going with the emergency services in Jefferson, County?

“So you’re talking about the ambulance fee, which I don’t believe was adequately or appropriately should I say, presented to the residents and why it was needed. So that money comes in to hire staffing. The paramedics the EMTs that run on the ambulances, the apparatus itself, is owned by the fire departments. So you’re actually paying the salaries and the running of the personnel of that agency through that ambulance fee. …. Recently, the County Commission has talked about, been toying with for about a year, a fire fee, implementing a fire fee.  And one of the things they want to do is take the operational funds that the county currently provides to the volunteer fire departments, to keep the lights on and all that sort of stuff, because they are volunteers none of these are paid fire, they want to redirect those funds to build a new county government facility, ”Jackson said.

Richard: One thing I noticed on Memorial Day, I went with down a friend to Moulten Park. I noticed they had removed all the picnic tables, and I was aghast, so I assume that was because the park is supposedly closed, although were quite a lot of people there anyway. There are no picnic tables or porta potty, and I said, “What a waste of our money.” So do you have any insight on that?  So would that fall under the purview of the commission? They waste your money, taking the tables out, thousands of dollars. I guess that’s ridiculous.

“So here’s basically how the bureaucracy kind of works. You get orders from the governor on the recent events with this COVID-19, we get the orders from the governor, which does roll down to the county and county commission. Now county commission appoints and fills the board seats, including the health department. At some point, There was a little bit of cart blanche with the health department, or the Health Director, on what was going  to be allowed, what wasn’t going to be allowed,” Jackson said.

“I think there were some things that happened that were overreaching to some businesses and things in the area, that made the county commission step in and say, “Hey now, we probably need to re-evaluate this, or look at this. But for all intensive, purposes, the county commission steps back. They appoint these boards and these committees to do their job because they’re specializing in those areas.  There just need to be a little bit more common sense approach to things and not necessarily just jumping off the deep end,” Jackson added.

Richard: So you’re saying that the Commission has authority ultimately over the health department and you referred to a committee on the commission or something like that?

“So my emergency services agency board, I sat before the County Commission and was interviewed by them in order to be nominated or placed on that board. …

I am, I believe, in less government-limited government, I don’t believe the government should get involved in every intricate detail of our lives. I am concerned it ever reach some people like that, but I think the majority the people like their freedom and like to be able to make their own decisions on…So if you haven’t gone into Walmart on a good day before this virus came and caught something, but you can go and there’s no regulations or overreach going into Walmart any given day now, I don’t understand the other stipulations.”

Richard:  I agree with you. I assume the Health Department told the parks. ‘Hey, shut down’. They removed the tables. Or the parks may be they decided to do that. What’s going on? It’s crazy.

“What concerns me about the health department being overreaching as a small business owner? I’m very passionate about helping and propping up small businesses, helping them grow and thrive in this county. It’s something that’s been lacking for a long time. So, it’s no coincidence I mentioned Walmart. There’s several small businesses in the area, particularly restaurants or food service and they have been a ping pong ball in this whole thing. Particularly with direction from the health department. You can open, but you can only have 10 people in, and then while you can’t open in, you can open out. And so they go the extent of having picnic tables or some type of outside seating so they can open ’cause their business has been closed for several weeks. I visited an establishment the other day. It’s a small business. They just opened back up where they could do 50%, capacity. I called to make sure that, do I need a reservation. Are you at max is there wait, whatever, before I even go out. No problem, got a reservation. I need you to wear a mask across the threshold into the business. Use the hand sanitizer. That’s sitting at the door, but then you can take your mask off when you get to the table.”

Richard:  There’s been controversy about over the last years with the Jefferson County Development Authority and The whole Rockwool thing. It wasn’t transparent, right?   How do you see the role of the Jefferson County Development Authority? And also, a related question would be, what role, if any, does the commission play with ongoing legal issues that people are filing around Rockwell?

“So I’ll be the first to say I don’t think Rockwell was a good fit for our county. -but they’re coming. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done to stop them. They’ve done the things they’ve needed to do in order to get this business up and going so I think they’re coming.”

“I don’t really know right now, what role that county would play in legal fees or any type of action related to any legalities around some of these groups.  I know the Board of Education was gonna take up a lawsuit or was trying to take up a lawsuit and petition the county commission who has oversight on the election, to run a special election  for funding and put it out, or increase levy rates ’cause they’re spending money elsewhere. So I don’t really know what involvement the county would have legally to stop a law suit.  I wouldn’t support any funding of a lawsuit of a business coming in.”

Richard; But on the role of how it happened.  The whole Jefferson County Development Authority resigned at one point, and I was reading on the County Commission website that that authority is appointed by or under the county commission. So it seemed like people didn’t know about the PILOT agreement and didn’t know about the change from a residential and retail development, which they got a million dollars for developing a plan for, to an industrial property.

But obviously, the Development Authority knew about that and was trying to bring these people but it seemed like they weren’t telling anybody else. Something seemed to be wrong there. Do you have any comment on that?

“I’m a proponent for small business, and I know Rockwell comes in labeled as a small business, and under federal government, they are a small business. Small business, 50 people or less 100 people or less. I’m for businesses coming here, and I’m for rebuilding the Development Authority to be specific to your question. I’m all for transparency and communication. It’s how do you get that mode of communication out so that people are aware.  We’re in an age of technology.”

“You have a website and you email blast. You heavily rely on people to go to the internet. We have a huge demographic that doesn’t use internet.   Or we have a lot of people that travel out of the community to work.  They commute. How do you get that information out there?  But at the same time, you elect people to county commission to appoint people to these boards.  And that board’s tasked with doing a job, just like the health department. So, you’ve got a set of standards or you’ve got a set of guidelines for which you court businesses to come to the area. What are they? What do they look like? What is a fit for our community?  We can’t be a bedroom community. We just can’t. That means, Citizens are going to bear the burden of the growing government and taxes and fees.”

Richard:  I know that you have the opponent in the primary. How would you compare your yourself, or why would voters choose you over your opponent and how do you differentiate yourself?

“So, one my wealth of experience – small business owner, human resource management, project management, operations, management, lifelong resident. I know what used to be here, I know what’s not here anymore, so I’ve got a lot to offer a lot to bring to the table. I’m very passionate about given our resident a voice and representing them. I never thought I would get into government but I’m just tired, I’m tired and I can only imagine other people out there, just being tired and feeling hopeless and like nothing can be done.”

“My opponent ran in 2018, I believe it was, for the same seat and was defeated. He is currently a P-Card field representative for the state auditor’s office, and he represents, he’s out in this area.

So he helps municipalities and county governments and he helps them or encourages them to switch to what’s called the P-card, which is like it’s a purchase card so it’s loaded with, like a credit card. I think you get 1.25% rebate on it, if you use that. So he’d like to see all expenses for the state or the local government go on that.   My main concern with him, given his current profession, which from what I understand he has no intent of resigning from if he’s successful in getting into county commission, is how do you set on a county commission board or a county commission seat and set a budget for the very dollars You’re gonna help the government spend, that’s a conflict of interest to me.  I don’t have that conflict.”

“The only thing I am in this for personally, because I don’t want to part with more of my money, I don’t want to spend more money on services that I’m not receiving.  That’s it. I’m out to represent everybody in this county. To hopefully bring some transparency to the government. Open honest dialogue, communication. I want them to feel heard and listened to. I might not always have the answer, but I’ll work to get it.  If I don’t have it, or if it’s something, I want to hear what they think and what they say and help them understand that if it’s something that cannot be done, why it cannot be done.”

Richard:  I do urge everyone to get out and vote on June 9. Any other closing comments or anything you’d like to share?

“Just vote Tricia Jackson, County Commission, Harpers Ferry district. I’m on the back of the ballet.”

Richard:   thank you for joining us today.

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