Attendees of Friday morning’s Council of Independent Business Owners breakfast began laughing as Current Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger attempted to answer Republican challenger Pat Cothran’s questions during the October 5 meeting.
“For the past year and a half… I’m running on my record…” Reisinger started.
“Answer my question,” Cothran said.
Laughter increased when Reisinger said, “I brought real deals to the table…,” and business owners in the audience murmured to one another as Cothran repeated her question for the third time.
Questions for the Buncombe county Commission Chair became just as heated as Republican J.B. Howard hammered on the nearly $8 million in tax incentives the current commission recently offered a brewery to build in Asheville.
“In two to three years they will provide 74 jobs,” said Howard.
Buncombe County Commission Chairman David Gantt said the bottom line was about jobs. Though he said people can’t afford a raise in taxes, he would think about doing so in order to get more jobs in the area. Gantt gave as an example last year’s referendum on an additional tax to support AB Tech.
“AB Tech’s expansion will give people the training they need to fill jobs in the future,” Gantt said. “Right now it temporarily creates 1000 to 2000 construction jobs as they build the building.”
When asked about the option of raising taxes, Howard gave a simple, but definite, “No.”
The forum included an opportunity for candidates to ask their opponents a question. Reisinger asked Cothran how she would make things better and save taxpayer dollars. Cothran said she would bring many years experience working in the field and understanding of the fundamentals of the office.
“Since 1918 all brand new Register of Deeds have been appointed,” said Cothran who explained that though they have run for office after their appointed term, the incumbent always has an edge. Cothran added that she has owned a title insurance company, has worked in real estate for 26 years and expressed concern about some issues of attorneys and land owners not being able to locate documents.
Reisinger said, though he was originally appointed to the office when his predecessor left, he has accomplished a great deal in the year and a half he has served.
“We’ve partnered with the Secretary of State to get the recording process on line to make it faster and easier,” he said. “We’ve also brought in on line credit and debit card services.”
Reisinger added that last year the office spent $600,000 less than the year before and made $100,000 more than the previous year.
Questions from the floor included the interstate 26 connector construction delays. “It’s not helped us not coming together,” said Gantt who express concern that the city and county were so divided on the issue. “We need to get the thing built.”
“Elect Republicans, we’ll get it built,” said Howard.
In the final statements, Gantt said his best skill was getting people together and working things out. He pointed out that Buncombe County ranked 73 out of 100 North Carolina counties in their tax rates and the ones with a lower tax rate haven’t built anything in 20 years. Gantt added that the current commission has accomplished a great deal in the past few years.
“I’m a very basic individual,” Howard said. “I’m not negotiable on God, country and family. “I’ll talk about everything else.”