By MARINA WATERS
The county mayor may have a lot of duties to fulfill, but for mayoral candidate Joe Grandy, really the position comes down to being one thing — a leader.
“For me, it’s about leadership. It’s about management skills,” Grandy said. “I’ve led a lot of different organizations on a voluntary basis across the community and I’ve led a multimillion dollar company to year after year double-digit growth.
“I think the leadership component of the race is really important because none of my opponents have anywhere near the leadership experience that I do. I think leading a county of people is a big task. And obviously, it’s important to the citizens.”
Grandy is the president and general manager of Ferguson Enterprises Inc., and has been working with the company for 40 years. He’s also been a county commissioner since elected in 2010.
Grandy said the predominant reason he first became a commissioner was due to the school project funding process that was used in 2007. Now, he said his focus remains on education for all students, whether they intend to prepare for college or the workforce out of high school.
“Education is the top priority — and to improve our educational outcomes and provide opportunities for all students across the county,” Grandy said. “So I think we need to continue to focus on our top performers and try to work on developing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) or magnet school so that we can push out the very highest results for our employers.
“But we also need to enhance the career and technical component of our schools so that the 20 percent or so of our students who don’t go to post secondary come to the workforce ready to go to work and already have skills.”
Grandy said he is also dedicated to continuing the county’s debt management plan, which he said contains a portion of debt from previous county commissions.
“There seems to be confusion as to who owns the debt. The vast majority of the county’s current debt was in place in 2010 when I first ran for commission,” he said. “Part of the reason that I ran was that we added to that debt in 2007 with paying no principle for 12 years on that debt. So here we are in 2018 and we have not paid down any of that debt that was incurred in 2007. That debt is not current commission debt. That goes back to before 2010.”
In response to that debt, Grandy sees the debt management plan as an opportunity to build financial success for the county.
“For the first time in anyone’s memory that I can recall, there’s a long-range plan for Washington County,” Grandy said. “The plan contemplates taking Washington County completely out of debt in 2037. I think that county government is just in a completely different place than it was seven years ago. So to be able to build on the plan that is currently in place is exciting to me.”
When it came to running for county mayor, Grandy said the position would allow him an opportunity to “give back” to a community he says has given so much to Grandy and his family.
“I am just very appreciative of the Washington County community and how supportive they have been of myself, my family and my business,” Grandy said. “I have always strived — and will continue to strive in this new role — to give back to the community in the best way I know how.”
For Grandy, “giving back” also means working to achieve financial success of Washington County.
“I think the role of the Washington County Mayor is, first and foremost, a leadership role with the responsibility as the chief financial officer of Washington County,” Grandy said. “I’ve said this before; leadership means stewardship and I just mean it.
“Not as a slogan, or saying, or a commentary, but it’s just critical that we have solid leadership and good, solid financial direction for Washington County and to continue the plan that will take Washington County out of debt in the future.”
Early voting for the May 1 Republican Primary Election will begin on April 11.