What are some examples of how you made a difference as a Garner city council member?
Matthews: One thing I was able to help influence was property values. We had problems with what I call absentee landlords. These people would live somewhere else and have rental homes around town that they were not taking care of, which was devaluing other people’s properties. I spearheaded a committee which put together a new set of ordinances to hold landlords accountable. First, landlords had to register their properties. Then if they didn’t take care of their property, we would send public works over and they would take care of it. Then we would bill the individual and issue a small fine. If it happened again, the fine got bigger. That worked well because we were able to clean up the rental properties in the town.
I’ve also worked closely with Police, Fire, and Rescue. We had an issue once with what I call death-by-cop on Highway 70 near my church one Sunday. If our cops had Tazers at that time then that person would probably be alive right now, and that cop would have had to go through what he did. After that I asked the police force how many Tazers it needed and I pushed to get them the Tazers, because nobody should have to go through that who doesn’t have to.
The Independent Weekly reported that you present yourself as a tea-party “type of guy.” Would you say that’s true?
Matthews: I have no problem with that. If you listen to someone on the far left, he will tell you that a tea-partier is a racist, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been to a few of their events and a tea-partier is someone who believes in less government, less taxes, the constitution, and someone who wants government out of their business. I stand for those same things, so I have no problem being called a tea-partier.
What do you think is more important for jobs and economic growth in Wake County, tax cuts or the standard of living we provide through government services like education and mental health care?
Matthews: From the business side of things, we have to make our county an easy county to do business with. We want new businesses to come in, obviously- especially large businesses- but we don’t want to give away the farm just to get them to come in. Small, independent businessmen are the backbone of our county and our nation. We need to make it easier for them, not bog them down with regulations and fees. They employ people and those people spend money and pay taxes. If we get that free economy opened up and make people believe that this is a good county to do business in, then job growth and the revenue we need to run our county will take care of themselves.
Do you support the neighborhood schools plan and why or why not?
Matthews: That’s an easy one to answer. I do support neighborhood schools. The other day, I was up at about six checking my emails and all of a sudden I see this bus come by outside- in the dark- to bus these kids all the way across the county. If you look right down the road there’s a school that they could ride their bikes or even walk to. It would allow them to sleep more and spend more time with their families. The most important thing that we have to do with the neighborhood schools program is make sure- and we can do this- that all the schools, no matter where they are, are equal in the quality of facility and the quality of teachers and staff. It shouldn’t make a difference where the children go to school as long as they get the same quality of facilities and education. Now there may be some areas that need extra attention, shall we say, and we need to be alert to that and make adjustments. If we need to bring in more teachers or better programs in that area, then let’s do that.