LAURINBURG — Ask Frank Evans why he is seeking the District 2 seat on the Laurinburg City Council and he will give you a myriad of reasons.
But there are two reasons that top any list of rationales — his children, Noah and Avery.
Evans said he wants Laurinburg to be a place — thriving, full of opportunity and responsive to citizens — that his children and all children are proud to call home.
“I’m running for the District 2 seat, because I want a future for Laurinburg, not just memories of what once was,” he said. “Laurinburg has potential, sometimes it just takes new ideas.”
Evans is running against incumbent Drew Williamson and challengers Brian Gainey and George Medlock.
Employed in the transportation industry since 2004, Evans said he first became interested in politics after watching how the council dealt with the proposed City Hall project. If elected, he said he will do what he can to halt construction.
“I will motion to stop the project at once,” Evans said.” That’s the desire of the people. Countless times citizens, including myself, have asked council to stop this project. It’s time that the people have a say … council should work for the people.”
Evans said he will also request that BB&T, the bank providing the $9.1 million loan for the project, refrain from imposing any repayment penalty if the city decides to return the loan. If the bank refuses, it will not be eligible for future business with the city, according to Evans.
Evans said the only positive emanating from the “City Hall mess” is that it allowed citizens to see the extent to which council members “are willing to go to have a legacy item for themselves.”
“Drew Williamson has stated he would do this only if it meant taxes would not be raised,” Evans said. “There is no guarantee on this. Should the time come, and the city needs money, taxes will have to go up. There is no choice in the matter. No new hall equals no new taxes.”
Once on council, Evans said he would seek a 25 percent reduction in the city’s water rate. Evans also said he will push for a 5 percent cut to electric bills.
“The cost of utility bills are forcing families to make decisions on food, medicine and even gas for getting to work,” Evans said. “This is a travesty.
“Our electric fund should not be used as a money making cash cow for the city. I would seek a reduction of electric rates that would bring them to a point where they did not make money from citizens, and only charge the cost of electricity plus 5 percent to be used for maintenance and upgrades.”
Asked if he would cut the current tax rate, Evans said the city needs to make a comprehensive examination of the budget to see how taxpayer money is spent.
“I see our current tax rate, and how its compared to places like Lumberton or Aberdeen and know that we don’t get the same services as those cities,” he said. “Laurinburg is in a hole. An often forgotten town, except for Friday night football games, which my family always takes part in. But we should have more.”
Other proposals include a 5 percent increase in pay for all non-managerial city employees; placing the city’s finances online with monthly updates; and adopting term limits for council members.
The challenger is also on record for proposing that that council change its meeting schedule next year so the board meets for 12 straight Saturdays “to gain a quick overview … to ensure the citizens are being taken care of in the most appropriate manner.”
He said that Laurinburg also must do more to reduce litter to make the city attractive to new businesses and visitors.
“I see Laurinburg as being the cleanest little town in the southeast,” he said. “Using inmates, getting civic groups and church groups involved, also businesses getting teams together with a focus on litter pickup to improve the visual around not only Main Street, but on every street. Have pride restored in our neighborhoods that make up our city.”
Evans said his goal is to bring a regular-guy approach to local government.
“I’m not one of the good ole’ boys. I’m not of the elite,” he said. “With two sons and a wife facing many of the same issues as a majority of our city does, I understand the difficulty in living with the decisions that are being made and how they impact my family. We need honest, down-to-earth leaders. Not more of out-of-touch rhetoric.”
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023