Mark Marcoplos of Bingham Township is challenging fellow Democrat Earl McKee for his seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, representing rural District 2.

Marcoplos, who runs Marcoplos Construction, says he’s driven to run by the same issues that have driven his community involvement in the past.

Those issues include schools, the environment, and solid waste disposal.

“Also as a builder, and just a concerned citizen, I have a lot of interest in affordable housing,” he says. “Because I know what the cost of housing is.

“And living wage issues. When I was on the Economic Development Commission, that was one of the key things that we accomplished. This was in the late `90s.”

He’s also served twice as chair of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors.

Marcoplos says he’s disappointed with how Commissioners have dealt with the solid waste issue over the past couple of decades.

He recalls that in 1992, the county was considering a landfill in the area where he lived.

Marcoplos says that he, along with some his neighbors, formed an alliance with people from other targeted communities to ask the county not to create big new landfills without first conducting a waste-reduction study.

“We were told by the commissioners then that solid-waste reduction was not going to be linked to the landfill search,” he says. “And of course, our jaws dropped.”

He recalls that instead of heeding the concerns of people in those neighborhoods, the board abandoned the search altogether.

On solid waste disposal, Marcoplos says the commissioners have continued to kick the can down the road, to the point where Orange County is now struggling with the issue of how to fund recycling.

He says the county needs a comprehensive plan, which commissioners have failed to provide.

“We have to control our own solid waste,” he says. “We have to have our own transfer station, and our own recycling station on the same piece of property.”

Marcoplos figures that would save $900,000 annually for local governments and UNC, which ship solid waste long-distance for disposal.

As for the contentious issue of whether to create a service district for recycling, he’s withholding judgment for now.

“I’m in the same state the commissioners are in,” he says. “I’m waiting for the next public hearing.”

Speaking of hearings, Marcoplos says he’d like to see more vetting of speakers. Too often, he says, people who don’t even live in the districts being discussed are taking up meeting time to push political agendas.

This is particularly true, he says, near election time. He adds that it presents a skewed representation of public opinion.

Asked for an assessment of the job Commissioner Earl McKee is doing, Marcoplos says he’s never heard his opponent talk about affordable housing.

He also says that McKee lacks the background in environmental issues that he would bring to the table.

Marcoplos does give McKee credit for his ability to reach consensus with fellow commissioners on budgets and funding schools.

But he adds that he considers that a baseline requirement of any commissioner, by traditional standards. Marcoplos says he thinks he could do better, based on ideas, not just claims of fiscal responsibility.

“I recently proposed that Orange County create a database of local independent businesses,” he says. “The Economic Development office of the county is working hard, and justifiably so, to bring businesses into the economic development district. That’s a great revenue enhancer. It’s great to bring in jobs. A lot of folks need jobs in Orange County.”

In the coming weeks, WCHL and will reach out to candidates in all local races.