Regardless of who wins the District 5 seat on the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, the candidate will become a part of history.
Victoria Bauman and Jan Griggs are vying to become only the third woman in history to serve as a Cherokee County commissioner. Barbara Vicknair was the first woman elected to be a commissioner, serving two terms from 1998-2006. Lorraine Meltz served one term from 2010-14.
Early voting begins Thursday. The Cherokee Scout interviewed Bauman and Griggs, with their responses placed in alphabetical order.
Victoria Bauman (Democrat)
Originally from Miami, Victoria Bauman has lived in North Carolina for nearly two decades. She worked as a law clerk and a paralegal for 18 years of her 30-year career in the legal field.
This is the first time that she has run for an elected office. She was not heavily involved in politics until more recently.
“I was trained as a Christian to be neutral growing up, so I never even voted until after the age of 50,” Bauman said.
She decided to run for commissioner after her involvement with various environmental initiatives increased, and she realized she could make a difference in the community.
“My husband and I got involved with fighting against fracking when we heard that it might come here several years ago,” Bauman said. “I’m very worried about our environment here and everywhere.”
She believes her legal background will help her weigh the pros and cons of each decision in an unbiased manner in order to make the best choices for county citizens.
“I look at what is most equitable, what is the best resolution to the problem or situation, and what would benefit the most people in the most beneficial way,” Bauman said.
If elected, she would like to find a way to prevent wastewater from running into the rivers during heavy rain events. She also wants to post signs throughout the county to deter people from littering and increase enforcement of the litter prohibition clause in the solid waste ordinance.
Bauman is also adamant about cleaning up Hanging Dog Campground and reopening it to the public.
“TVA promised millions of dollars, so the campground should be improved,” she said. “Those promises were never kept, then they turned it over to the U.S. Forestry Service. The legal side of my brain says, ‘That’s not right. They should be held accountable.’”
In addition, Bauman said the county should seek grants to help the Valley River Humane Society provide spay and neuter surgeries for animals. She also would like to work with the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce to make local attractions other than the casino more of a destination for tourists.
“The most beautiful
roadside rest area I’ve ever seen is in Andrews,” she said. “It’s pristine. I’ve traveled across the country both ways, and I’ve never seen a park so beautiful. It’s got beautiful natural resources and definitely needs to be touted.
“I think the chamber of commerce is the most underutilized resource any town has. People need to know we have a beautiful area. But we want to keep it that way, so that’s where the litter and a lot of the other respect issues come in.”
Jan Griggs (Republican)
After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps, Jan Griggs has lived in Cherokee County since the early 2000s. She has spent the last nine months touring various organizations across the county in preparation to become a commissioner.
“I’m trying to learn as much as possible about our county,” she said.
If elected, Griggs would be adamant about expanding broadband throughout the county. She plans to soon speak with broadband provider companies about obstacles they may be facing in addressing this issue.
“There’s grant money out there,” she said.
Griggs would also like to increase pay for county employees.
“Our county employees’ pay is not up to 2020 standards; it is at 2007 standards.” she said. “[Commissioners] gave them a 2 percent pay raise (in the fiscal year 2021 budget), but that still did not bring them [up to standards]. Every department I spoke to talked about the poor pay for county employees.”
If elected, she also
hopes to convince fellow commissioners to develop a five-year plan that includes infrastructure improvements such as roads, broadband, and water and sewer line expansion.
“If we can plan for the future of our county, it will make us better stewards in what we’re doing now,” Griggs said. “Planning will make us more frugal with our money as we’re going forward. Once you get a five-year plan, then you can try and develop a 10-year plan. And just like with your goals in life, every year you adjust those plans.
“I am willing to listen to anyone who has ideas that could go into thisplan. Not that we’re going to take all of them, but I will listen.”
She said ongoing renovations at the former National Guard Armory in Murphy are a prime example of how not to plan for the future.
“Doing one piece at a time, in my opinion, is not the right way to do it,” Griggs said. “It’s a great building, and it’s got really good bones. But if you’re going to use the armory, make sure that you’re using it for the right reasons. …
“I don’t know that they have truly sat down and designed an actual plan of what’s going to go in the building. I loved the idea of getting an architect to design what they’re going to do with it. I would love to have seen all of the department heads, the commissioners and the county manager sit down with the rendering of the building so they could discuss it.”
Griggs also feels the lack of workforce housing is one the biggest problems the county faces. She hopes to convince other lawmakers to help find a solution to that issue.
“Contractors for that type of housing can go to the larger cities and build the same housing for [more profit],” she said, “and that’s why we’re having trouble getting them to come up here to build.”