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ANGIER — Alan Lamont thinks the Johnston County Board of Commissioners should look more like the county it serves.
“We have had a great deal of change in Johnston County in the last five to 10 years, and I feel the board of commissioners should reflect this change,” he said in an email response to questions from the Johnstonian News.
“Right now, registered Republicans make up a minority of Johnstonians, yet our board of commissioners is made up entirely of Republicans,” said Lamont, a Democrat. “This isn’t representative of our county, and I am running because I believe our board is ready for some new blood that reflects our modern, dynamic community.”
Like many of his neighbors, Lamont is a newcomer to Johnston. “I moved from Scotland to North Carolina in 2009 and moved from Wake to Johnston County in 2013,” he said. “Since then, I have had two kids and have discovered the true meaning of Southern warmth and hospitality from the fantastic people of our county. In my experience, our citizens are open-minded and focused on the future.”
As a candidate for the District 4 seat on the county board, Lamont has three distinct planks in his campaign platform.
“First and foremost, we need to prioritize our public school system,” he said. “As a father of two young children, I understand the concerns of parents better than many of the current board members. Public schools are key to the success of our community, and the board of commissioners has a key role to play in ensuring our schools are properly supported.”
Second, it’s time the county’s roads kept pace with Johnston’s population growth, Lamont said. “I am pleased to see the improvements that are being made in the 40-42 area, but there are plenty of other areas with roads that are simply not fit for (their) purpose given the growth in the county,” he said. “Proper road maintenance and upgrades benefit residents of Johnston County but are also a key factor in attracting businesses to our area.”
Recreation is the third plank in his platform, Lamont said. “I am a keen cyclist, and I am proud of the greenways we have in our county,” he said. “I would love to explore expanding our public greenways to other areas of the county.”
With the current board of commissioners, Lamont gives credit where it’s due. “The existing board has been keenly aware of the growth that we have experienced and seems to have a real willingness to ensure that we are managing population growth as best we can,” he said.
But Lamont sees failures too.
“The budget shortfall in our county’s education system is a real point of contention for many people in our county, and this represents a real lack of oversight on the part of the current board of commissioners,” he said.
The board can — and should — do better, Lamont said. “If I am elected, part of my role will be to advocate for Johnston County’s schools to ensure we are receiving proper funding from the state as well as to ensure that any possible budget shortfall is anticipated early so that we can alter our spending as needed,” he said.
Lamont wishes too that commissioners would be more considerate of Johnstonians who appear before them. He pointed specifically to a recent presentation by the Johnston County Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a group supporting carbon-reduction efforts.
“After hearing the proposal, the board didn’t even ask follow-up questions,” Lamont said. “Instead, they indicated that they would take the issue under advisement. While I don’t expect the board to endorse every proposal put in front of them, I do expect them to acknowledge the efforts of their neighbors who take the time to attend board meetings and lay out proposals that may benefit the county.”
Currently, Johnston commissioners are grappling with how to manage growth and how best to fund the county’s solid-waste convenience sites.
Lamont has ideas about those issues.
“Growth is a testament to our county, and we are fortunate to be dealing with the challenges that growth brings,” he said. “Of course there are costs that come along with population growth, and we cannot ask our citizens to cover all of these costs.”
Instead, some of those costs should fall on the people profiting from Johnston’s growth, Lamont said. “Developers who are building new subdivisions should be shouldering part of the burden growth places on our community, specifically the cost of road upgrades,” he said.
Lamont pointed to an example in the community where he lives. “The builder is going to be reaping the profits of building in a sought-after area, but the result will be further congestion in the already busy McGee’s Crossroads area,” he said.
On another growth matter, Lamont called on commissioners to give deeper thought to the incentives they award to companies that plan to locate in Johnston. “These costs often far exceed the benefits (of) new jobs, especially when you consider the additional traffic, strain on public schools, etc.,” he said.
When it comes to trash, Lamont thinks the dollars matter. “I think we should select the most cost-effective option, which is the $32 annual fee on all households,” he said. “I appreciate that part of this option covers recycling costs.”
Turning briefly to politics and political parties, Lamont wishes more Democrats would run for office in Johnston. “Part of the reason there have been few Democrats elected is that there have been few Democrats on the ballot,” he said. “I have talked extensively with my friends and neighbors, and there is a real desire for more Democrats to be on the ballot.”
“Even the proudest Republican would agree that they should have a choice when it comes to who they elect,” Lamont added. “We cannot continue to have only one option on our ballot papers, especially since registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters make up a majority of the voters in our county.”
“I intend to listen more than I speak,” he said. “I am not a politician; I am a citizen and a father who wants the best for Johnston County. If I am elected, I plan to continue listening to ensure that my constituents are my number one priority, regardless of their political affiliation.”
About Alan Lamont
Born May 2, 1987, in Scotland, Lamont holds a master’s degree in politics from the University of Dundee.
He and his wife, Lindsey, have two children, Jack, 7, and Harper, 1.
Lamont is a senior client manager with Coleman Research in Raleigh.