Name: Scott Needham
Address: 115 W. Main St.
Previous Political Experience: none
Community Involvement: He is a member of the Pilot Mountain Area Business Association, is a royal ambassador leader at the First Baptist Church of Pilot Mountain, a member of Pilot Mountain Tourism Development Authority (TDA) and is the vice president of the Pilot Mountain Civic Club.
Family: His parents are the late O.M. Needham and Linda Needham.
Occupation: Owner of The Living Room coffee shop and is a production manager for the Twin City Stage.
Education: He is a 1999 graduate of East Surry High School and he graduated from Western Carolina University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science in theater arts and communication. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 2006 with a Master in Fine Arts.
1. Why are you running for commissioner?
Answer: To get more youth involvement in town. I want to work with the civic organizations in town and get them more involved in business. I feel like with my capacity with TDA, I want to push forward with the idea of having public restrooms in Pilot Mountain. I would like to see different civic organizations have events together. I would like to see them all on the same page. I feel that’s really important.
2. What could the town be doing to stimulate economic development that it isn’t doing already?
Answer: We are already really involved with Surry County Economic Development Partnership in the county and I know that we, as a town, go to a lot of those events.
3. What do you think the town should do to get its financial problems under control?
Answer: We need to make sure that we are spending more wisely. They have already raised the water rates, which helped balance out of the general fund, so we just have to keep strong because we should have our debt paid for in the next five years. That will really help take a burden off the town. The most important thing is to get more businesses and residents in town. That would help offset water and tax increase. We have enough water. The problem is getting it to people. The town has grants to expand our water supply to different areas. We need to be on the lookout for businesses looking to relocate here. I think if we get the civic organizations involved in government, more people will feel empowered in what the town is doing. The TDA is going to pay for the architect to design the restrooms and the civil club and Mt. Pilot Now are willing to pay for the public restrooms so we don’t have to rent as many port-a-johns. This helps business so they don’t have to have people come into their stores to use the bathrooms. It sends a message to our citizens, our visitors and business owners that we care about them.
4. What are your goals if elected?
Answer: I want the town to become a place that is full of life and vibrancy. The great thing about the town is that you can go out anytime and be safe. It’s a peaceful and a beautiful town. My goals would be to attract businesses and residents to town by beautificating the town and bringing the town up-to-date with their regulations. We need to allow more events downtown, which will bring more business to downtown. Visitors are tourists are potential residents and business owners. We need to get more involved with civic leaders and event planners that do things that help business. It will bring more residents and businesses. Another thing is the mountain — I would love to see a trail between the mountain and the town. I know they are working on that now, but when one of your greatest tools is a natural landmark, then you have to think about the people in our community and the type of town you want. I’m tickled to death that we have recycling now. That makes our community more sustainable and conscientious. We need to save our resources, not with just water and electricity. We can also be more effective with our tax revenue and our spending.
5. What do you like best about Pilot Mountain?
Answer: I love the small town atmosphere. I love the people. I always knew it, when Erin (his girlfriend) moved to town, she was saying how friendly everyone is. There’s not a lot of congestion. I love that we are so close to nature. The mountain and beautiful rivers and wildlife — the Blue Ridge mountains — that’s a lot of reasons people come to town. The Armfield Center is great. I think a lot of people realize how important it is that we are able to have an indoor swimming pool. Now we have the Pilot Center where the Surry Community College distant learning center is housed and Pilot Mountain Pride — there are so many wonderful things going in our community.
6. Do you see any problems with the town? And if you feel there are problems, how do you plan to fix them?
Answer: I feel like that we need to revisit some of the codes and regulations in town so people can improve their buildings without a lot of hassles. I feel like that we are going in a really good direction with the events we have in town. We need to be able to grow. With the pedestrian walking plan, that’s very important so that we know what our goals are in the future. We need to keep that momentum going. This is a place to enjoy and be a part of.
One of the biggest problems in town is the lack of youth involvement. At the debate I asked the audience how many people that are in civic organizations if they have three or more people between the ages of 20 and 30 to raise their hands. There wasn’t a single person that raised their hand. That is amazing to me. At events, I’m always the youngest and I’m 31. It’s horrible that we don’t have our young people more involved. There are many reasons the youth don’t feel like they have a voice or their opinion matters. I guess they are waiting for somebody else to change the world. If they don’t like the way things are, they need to show up. Showing up is 75 percent of it.