Defining issue? Megasite splits Randolph candidates

Jul. 06, 2014 @ 03:24 PM

The Republican Party runoff this month for a Board of Commissioners seat offers voters a choice between two candidates with contrasting views on an important local issue — whether to develop a megasite for a car plant in northeastern Randolph County.

Dave Craven and David L. Allen are the Republicans hopefuls in District 3, an area of northeastern Randolph County that would be the home for the possible megasite that would cover up to 2,000 acres. Craven supports the proposal, while Allen opposes it.
The runoff will be settled July 15. Craven and Allen were the two top finishers among four Republicans in the May 6 primary. The race involves a runoff because neither  Craven nor Allen received at least 40 percent of the primary vote — Allen captured 36 percent of the primary ballots while Craven received 32 percent.
Craven said that he believes the county should encourage the development of the property for a prospect that could bring thousands of jobs, while Allen said that he’s skeptical of the project’s viability and contends that most residents around the site oppose the proposal.
Economic developers are trying to piece together up to 2,000 acres to lure a major industrial prospect, such as an automobile manufacturing plant. The megasite near Liberty just off U.S. 421 would be south of the Guilford-Randolph county line.
Craven said the chance to lure a car plant to the county is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. He points to the growth in upstate South Carolina during the past 20 years since BMW Manufacturing Corp. opened a factory there.
“It would bring several thousand jobs to the area,” Craven told The High Point Enterprise. “This isn’t just about Randolph County — it’s about the Piedmont Triad and growing good skill-set jobs.”
But Allen told the Enterprise that the majority of landowners for what would become the megasite “aren’t willing sellers.”
Randolph County would incur tremendous expenses for the development of the site, as well as economic incentives to lure a manufacturer, Allen said.
“The people in Liberty, especially around the site, aren’t in favor of it,” Allen said.
Craven and Allen also differ on how much of a defining campaign issue the megasite will be with voters.
Craven said he believes the megasite will serve as a defining issue in settling the runoff, while Allen said other topics, such as his opposition to a new proposed county landfill, will loom larger.
The Republican runoff winner will face Democrat Elworth Cheek of Ramseur and unaffiliated candidate Kyle Dixon of Franklinville in the Nov. 4 general election. Dixon qualified by petition to file for District 3, according to the Randolph County Board of Elections.
The winner will succeed longtime Republican commissioner Harold Holmes of Ramseur, who didn’t file for re-election and will retire from the board at the end of this year.
pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

 Randolph County runoff
Randolph County voters will settle the Republican Party Board of Commissioners primary runoff between Dave Craven of Ramseur and David Allen of Liberty July 15. The race is for District 3, though commissioner races are settled by voters throughout the county. However, candidates must run for a district in which they live. District 3 is the northeastern part of the county.