Candidate Questionnaires: Chatham Commissioners

Joe Godfrey, candidate for Chatham County Board of Commissioners — Dist. 4

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Editor's Note: All candidates were sent two questionnaires by the News + Record. The first asked general questions about candidates and their goals; the second asked office-specific policy questions.

Questions are indicated in bold, any question left blank was unanswered by the candidate

Joe Godfrey

How long have you lived in Chatham County? 52 years

Age on election day: 58

Occupation (where you work, what you do): Siemens Industry, Inc., Fire/Life Safety Supervisor

Campaign website/social media: www.electgodfrey.com 

Party affiliation: Republican

Current and previous elected offices held or sought & terms you served: None

Campaign manager:

Campaign treasurer: Mike Jackson

Why are you seeking this office?

I wanted to serve Chatham County. I feel my life experiences have prepared me to help provide practical, real solutions to the problems and concerns facing our citizens. I feel our county is growing at an uncontrolled pace without any real plan to address infrastructure. There is no housing to speak of, and affordable housing is non-existent. Our schools need to be safe and healthy and our law enforcement needs to be stronger. Keep taxes low.

What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?

I was raised on a farm in Chatham County and have lived here virtually my entire life. I went to school here and raised my family here. Hard work has helped me become a better person, parent, and husband. I feel I can relate to how much our families struggle to make ends meet because of inflation and bad decisions by the current administration. I will address the needs and concerns of our citizens regardless of party. I have served in many leadership positions and have the business knowledge to help our county succeed.

Give us a job description you’d write for yourself if you’re elected to this seat

Provide real-life experience to help solve County issues. Work hard to achieve results. Show impartiality when dealing with difficult problems. Work with other County leaders such as County Manager, Planning, and current Committees. Respect other people’s thoughts and ideas and thoroughly prepare for meetings. Stay positive and focused on the tasks before me. Provide measurable results for problems.

What three specific, measurable and attainable goals would you pursue if elected?

1) Work with state and business leaders to provide broadband service for the entire county.

2) Keep tax rates low for residents as business tax revenue grows. Reduce the budget by cutting wasteful spending.

3) Every development should have green space for parks and protection of our natural resources. Work with developers and planning leaders to develop that plan.

What are the biggest challenges in Chatham and/or N.C. right now — and how would you address them?

There is no doubt planned strong infrastructure is needed. Large businesses are moving into mega sites because the Republican led Commissioners planned ahead many years ago. Now we need to help our county prosper. Our taxes need to be low and we need less regulation. We should be encouraging small business start-ups and working with CCCC to actively train people for new jobs, as there aren’t enough skilled workers to meet demands.

Chatham County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. What do you see as the major challenges/opportunities coming from this growth and how would you address them?

Where are people going to live? Where are they going to play? How is Chatham County going to meet the demands of the large businesses coming into the county. It will take a managed approach to solve these problems. Right now, there is no long term solution. It seems that the current Board has not planned for rapid growth. We are already behind, so I would work with planning leaders, recreation leaders, and other committees to solve these issues. 

What’s your overall view of the role of the elected body you’re seeking to join? Is it fulfilling its mission now? If not, what needs to change?

There is no doubt the Board of Commissioners has a difficult job managing growth in our county. Right now, we have learned of multiple large businesses moving to our county in the next several years. Our Board should be representative to all citizens in our county and not just one group of citizens. Politics should not determine what is best for Chatham County; the citizens should. All areas of Chatham County are important, from rural to dense. Represent everyone and respect everyone.

Do you believe the 2020 Presidential election produced fair and legitimate results?

 Yes. Chatham County does a really good job with the election. We have an active citizen board with members from both Republican and Democrat Parties, and the Chatham County Board of Elections staff are very focused on ensuring the rule of law is followed in our local elections.

Fast facts:

Political/government hero: Ronald Reagan

Favorite book: The Bible

Book most recently read: The Wish by Nicholas Sparks

Favorite film: Tombstone, Hunt for Red October

Hobbies: Gardening, church, reading history, sports (especially basketball, baseball, football), rooting for my St. Louis Cardinals and North Carolina Tar Heels

Community/civic involvement: Baptists on Mission (mission trips), Former coach and referee for Chatham County recreation, SCBA Moderator, involved dad

Favorite thing about Chatham County: The beauty of its rural setting

Personal motto or one-line philosophy: R.E.L.A.X.

Strongest childhood ambition: Become a star athlete (didn’t succeed)

Most significant life goal you’ve accomplished: Became a Christian parent to two wonderful sons

Office-specific questions

Chatham County historically faces large socioeconomic divides between the eastern and western sides of the county. What can be done to mitigate that divide, and how do you foresee County Commissioners aiding in that process?

There is no doubt that the western part of the county feels less represented in county politics than the eastern side does. The western side of the county does feel that the county puts more resources into helping the Pittsboro area be economically vibrant. Now that WolfSpeed has decided to build their plant in Siler City, our leaders need to encourage developers to build housing and places to eat, play, etc. I would like for the Commissioners to meet a couple times per year in Siler City if feasible, allowing the western side of the county to have the opportunity to attend more easily. We need to encourage more small businesses in all areas of the county, providing help where needed.

Increased development in the county has put strains on its stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. What can be done at a county level to ensure residents have access to sustainable and clean water sources? 

I think everyone would agree that we need to protect our natural resources, especially trees and water. We all will need clean drinking water. Since our county has been chosen by several large businesses as their destination, we should have a formal plan in place to take care of wastewater. This has been a challenge for several years, with no real plan in place. Our county seems to keep putting off making big decisions, but this can no longer be the case. There is currently no “master” plan in place, and Plan Chatham was adopted with no plan for wastewater. There have been multiple violations of quality standards, but again there is no real answer. I will work with the Northeast Wastewater Study Commission to provide a tangible answer for the problems in that area of the county, and keep working with leaders in Siler City as the CAM site gets up and running. The county should not depend on counties around us to manage wastewater. We also need to partner with the Town of Pittsboro to press upstream users to clean Haw River. 

With major investments in the county from the likes of VinFast, FedEx and the CAM site, how do you believe the county should manage growth while ensuring the interests of existing residents are heard?

The zoning that was enacted several years ago needs to be looked at again. Rural farmland does not need to be zoned the same way other zoning is done. We know that major growth is coming and there is no real housing to speak of. This has to be addressed. Leaders need to engage western Chatham and find out what their needs are. The county needs to work with Moncure residents to help mitigate the impact of Vinfast. Many people are upset that their land and livelihood is being affected by Vinfast. Broadband access should be available for our residents. New schools will need to be built, and we should work with state leaders to develop a long term plan. County leaders should listen to its citizens as growth ramps up. 

Increased economic growth is projected to cause a population boom as well, many of whom will need middle- to low-income housing. How do you think the county should address its looming affordable housing problem?

The housing crisis could have been mitigated by early planning. This has been a failure of our current leaders. We are already behind in providing any housing for families wanting to relocate to take advantage of these business opportunities. In less than two years, plants will be operating. Developers should look to build some multistory apartment complexes on each large mega site to allow employees to work and live nearby. There will need to be housing developments in each area as well, with lower cost being a goal. This is a major challenge with inflation causing pain for everyone. More housing, for sale and rent, is needed as Chatham County is the 7th fastest growing county in the state right now. As more housing comes, prices will moderate to some degree. People will be moving to Chatham County because of its beauty and job availability. 

Joe Godfrey, Chatham County Commissioners, Elections 2022, district 4, candidate questionnaire

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