I am writing to correct some serious misinformation that has been spread through our local governmental offices the last few weeks.
As a result of studying the last three years of our county’s budget, I relayed my personal story of finding it necessary to “shop” health insurance rates as just one way of tightening our budget in these tough economical times. The bright spot was that I was indeed able to find what I considered to be very good coverage for a savings of several hundred dollars per month for my family. I simply suggested that it would be a good idea to “shop” for more affordable health insurance coverage and was careful to say “while maintaining excellent benefits for the employees.” I said it might be possible to “save the taxpayer’s a significant amount of money, while protecting the employees benefits at the same time.” Shortly thereafter, I was receiving e-mails and phone calls from county employees or their spouses, saying they heard I did not want the county employees to have health insurance. Initially, I ignored this because I thought it was too ridiculous for anyone to believe. Unfortunately, it became clear that it was too widespread, and I need to be sure the voting public is not misinformed.
Now that this has occurred, I have decided to take this opportunity to ask, and state the following: Are you sick and tired of politics as usual here? I am calling for this ridiculous, time-wasting, petty, progress-blocking politics to stop. This is a perfect example of why our county and city officials are still fighting over the same issues they have been fighting over for 20 years, including taking each other to court. This is a perfect example of why there are so many lawsuits pending. The arrogance of some in our government must stop.
I truly want to earn your vote. It is my hope that the voting public will truly be informed on the issues, and get to know me even better. I not only expect you to question me, and give me your opinions, I actually welcome it. I recognize that “real wisdom only comes from good counsel.” Business professionals with seriously differing views and agendas come together every day on a regular basis and hash out a plan to move business forward. Our county government must be able to do the same. Please do not be distracted by false information designed to take your eye off the real issues. I am not a career politician. I have no desire to make a living or a retirement off “our” county government. I simply want to help work us out of the quagmire of higher property taxes and now no growth. Have you noticed how our local government has operated in a reactive rather than a proactive mode for years?
First of all, I get it. The county and city government entities do not earn money. They tax and levy the money we earn. We are all shareholders in this large business, and we have a stake and a say in this business. Our elected officials are in place by majority vote and are accountable to us. They serve at the “will of the people.” Their attitude should be of service for the public good. What a breath of fresh air it really is when we meet the ones that are true public servants.
My positions are clear — all of my signs state: More jobs, Lower property taxes, More restaurants. The people are struggling to make ends meet. I am a conservative Republican. I have a vast amount of varied business experience combined with public service, which places me in a unique position of actually being able to help provide solutions on just how to make those things happen. We must all agree to disagree occasionally. We must all learn to be reasonable and work together for the good of the community. I am fact-based and solution-oriented. Are you aware that 47 percent of the county’s income is from property tax while only 23 percent is from sales tax? If we could take actions that would flip these two numbers around, your property taxes could be cut in half. It is doable. We simply must have a business plan that will bring business and industry to appropriately zoned areas of the county. Thus, more jobs, lower property taxes and more restaurants. Math is math. Simple solutions, stop fighting, work together. If elected, I will work for you. You pay the bills.
We are all so glad to see EFACEC here in Effingham County. Have you ever stopped and wondered what our tax base would be like if we had a Gulfstream here in Effingham? We love companies like EFACAC and Gulfstream. Yet there are a few that try to categorize builders and developers as greedy and unethical. Unfortunately, we will find greedy and unethical people in every industry.
However, I want to be judged on my own record and merit. I am very proud of every home, lot and all three subdivisions we have built in the county, and they are all good stewards to the tax base. I would further state that I am proud to be a part of an industry that provides housing and business and has been the number 1 job producer in our area until recently. However, that one job is only a small part of who I am. I own other businesses, as diversification is one of the basic business principals taught in high school economics. I am a wife, mother, grandmother. I have served as: room mom, booster club president, team mom, assistant coach (our team motto was: “no excuses”), vice president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, and chairwoman of the Effingham County Board of Education. I have managed both a local credit bureau for several years as well as mortgage companies. Every company I have ever managed was fiscally better off after I arrived than they were before I started. That is a statistically provable track record in leadership. One of my primary goals when I was on the school board was to help improve the graduation rate that had hovered around 66 percent for many years consecutively. When my home sold, and I moved out of district, the graduation rate had improved to approximately 78 percent. The reason that is so important is because that is not a statistic, that is our children. I want a county where our children can graduate and attend college or vo tech if they so choose and find adequate jobs here, and raise our grandchildren here.
I came from very humble beginnings and will always know what it is like to work for a living. I am glad for that fact. I do not pretend to have all the answers. I did not share any of that information with you, other than for you to know, I will listen and I will work.
I am respectfully asking for your vote, your support, your input and your help. Let’s move Effingham County forward together in a positive manner. It is time we stop waiting for the economy to get better and we take actions to help create a better economy right here and now.
If elected, my motto for the county will be the same as it was while I was on the school board an in my personal life, “Failure is not an option.” “The harder I work, the luckier I get,” and my own personal belief, that I would be remiss if I left out — “With God all things are possible!”
Editor’s note: Jones is a candidate for the Effingham County Board of Commissioners’ District 2 seat.