Clark seeks opportunities for citizens

By Tom Joyce -


The Mount Airy News is concluding a series of profiles on candidates for Tuesday’s municipal election here.

Those running for South Ward commissioner are featured today — incumbent Shirley Brinkley, who is seeking her second four-year term on the board, and two write-in challengers, Bill Clark and Joe Reid.

Each was presented with the same set of questions to determine candidates’ positions on issues facing the city.

Candidate name: William C. “Bill” Clark

Age: 65

Address: Newsome Street

Occupation: Retired

Previous political experience: Ran for South Ward commissioner against Todd Harris in 2007.

Question: What makes you the best choice for the office you are seeking?

Answer: I am for the taxpayer. I want to do more to keep young people in town, including bringing in good-quality jobs.

Question: What would be your top priorities if elected?

Answer: Focusing on improvements as long as the commissioners are within the law. No more playing the blame game, and having everyone take responsibility for their own actions.

To seek better opportunities for the citizens of Mount Airy, by focusing on helping existing businesses and attracting new ones by advertising the city. We should promote the fact that we have plenty of water, a good geographical location and a fine educational system.

Question: Regarding the proposed redevelopment plan, there seems to be some momentum for focusing only on the city-owned Spencer’s property at this time. What is your position on this, and why?

Answer: I agree with the redevelopment as long as it doesn’t become a burden to the taxpayer. Let a developer buy it from us and then develop it, which would be a good addition to our tax base.

Question: There are estimates that preparing the Spencer’s area for revitalization projects could exceed $5 million for street work and other infrastructure needs. If grants aren’t awarded for this, should the money come from the city’s fund balance, or some other source you can suggest?

Answer: That’s the reason I stress the selling of the property to a developer. Let him foot the cost.

To strip our city funds would be a disaster. Grants are a possibility along with loans paid back at low interest.

Question: Recently, a political forum was held that focused on ways city candidates might help younger residents, the so-called millennials. But what can be done for the city’s older population (23 percent of which is 65 or higher) in areas such as housing, transportation, etc.?

Answer: We should advertise that this is a great place to retire.

Show some condos, golf courses and our downtown as a place where you can enjoy the sunset years.

Also stress that we have an excellent police and fire department, schools for further education for seniors and a hospital to take care of their medical needs.

Question: Census figures indicate that Mount Airy’s population is stagnant, having dropped slightly since 2010. How can this be reversed?

Answer: This is why I stress bringing in good-quality tech-oriented jobs that will help our tax base and improve the job market for other industry.

Question: Given that about 22 percent of Mount Airy residents live below the poverty level, what can/should city government do to help them?

Answer: We are not the federal government. We can only do so much. We can and should maintain streets and sidewalks. We should use our trolley as a form of transportation. Advertise our good low-rent housing and apartments.

Question: Is the stepped-up enforcement of Mount Airy’s minimum-housing codes (which has led to about 17 structures being demolished or otherwise addressed in the last few years) going too far or not far enough?

Answer: We must respect the owner of the property. Have him to improve it or else demolish the building. Try to promote structural soundness. In problem cases, give the owner 90 days before we can demolish the property.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.


By Tom Joyce

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