ORANGE COUNTY – Earl McKee announced this month that he is seeking re-election in 2014 for a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
McKee, who was first elected in 2010, is a lifelong resident of Orange County and represents District 2. In addition to his duties on the Board, he works on his family’s farm managing crops, hay and cattle.
During his time on the Board, property taxes in the County have not been raised—a fact McKee said he counts as an accomplishment.
“I ran three years ago, and I stated a concern over public safety, schools and our taxes and the impact that economic development could have on residential property,” McKee said. “I feel that I have attempted to address those issues from the perspective of the District 2 residents and would like to continue for a little while longer.”
Serving as Vice Chair of the County/Schools Collaboration Work Group, McKee said he was able to understand the needs of the district more clearly.
During his time in office, McKee said he is proud of the Board’s work to attract new businesses to the Buckhorn Economic Development District in Mebane.
The top-selling Japanese candy company, Morinaga, announced plans in September to build a new $48 million facility in that district, which will create at least 90 new jobs.
To land the project, Orange County survived five rounds of visits from Morinaga consultants since the county first tried to attract the company in February 2012.
AKG, a German-based radiator manufacturer, recently decided to expand it’s enterprises in the area as well.
“This is a continual progression of looking toward companies that are a fit for Orange County, that can provide jobs for our residents, and help with the diversification of our tax base.”
McKee also served as the Co-Chair of the Emergency Services Work Group.
“We have recommendations that have already cut the response times for ambulance service,” McKee said. “One thing that we are currently working on from that task force is the location of ambulances and fire stations which puts them more into the communities than they were before.”
Concerning the subject of public transportation, McKee said he believes there’s a need for more broad-based bus service in parts of rural Orange County. He added that the proposed Durham-Orange Light Rail plan is “premature.”
“We need to build out our bus service and then progress toward light rail sometime in the future,” McKee said.
If he is re-elected, McKee said he would concentrate on making progress on behalf of the County in the Roger’s Road remediation plan.
Leaders from Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County are currently at an impasse as to how to move forward with a plan to bring sewer service and a community center to the Rogers Road neighborhood, whose residents have lived with the landfill landfill for forty years.
The EPA announced this summer that it was investigating claims filed by the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association, or RENA, that the county discriminated against the largely African-American neighborhood by failing to apply for federal grant money to fund sewer service.
Based on the advice of the county attorney, commissioners have held off on endorsing the Rogers Road remediation plan until the investigation is complete.
“I would like for folks to understand that just because it is taking a long time and just because there are roadblocks does not indicate that there is a lack of commitment on our Board for that.”
McKee has been an active member of the community throughout his lifetime. He has held and holds elected positions in various organizations such as the Orange County Farm Bureau; the Caldwell Fire Department, which he helped form; the Orange County Planning Board; and outside organizations such as the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization and the ABC Board.