Richard Coleman


Iredell Free News asked each of the Republican candidates in the upcoming primary election for three seats on the Iredell County Board of Commissioners a series of questions about important issues.

Challenger Richard Coleman is one of seven candidates in the March 5 primary. Here are his answers:

IFN: The Board of Commissioners has been criticized for not making a larger cut to the property tax rate following the significant increase in property values. What is your view on this? If you believe the rate should have been cut further, would you have cut services, staff, school funding, capital expenses or elsewhere — or used money from the fund balance to offset cuts to tax rate? Please explain your answer.

COLEMAN: There are a lot of concerns regarding the “Tax Rate.” It’s my belief that we are treating symptoms instead of the disease. Our tax revaluation is based on actual sales transactions over the course of the previous three years. So your property appraisal is based on what comparable properties to yours have sold for. Iredell County has been one of the fastest growing communities in the country for the better part of three years, with new residents coming from states like California, New York and Illinois and paying well over market value for the properties. That, in turn raises, the valuations of properties around them. I believe a better solution would be to perform the evaluation every two years instead of four so that the evaluation is a better real time number. Furthermore, it would be a constant mission of mine to evaluate capital expenses, staffing demands, school funding and other needs so that we can meet future obligations, minimize operational costs, bank the difference and reduce the budget in hopes of relieving the tax burden to the citizens of Iredell County.

IFN: In your view, what are the county’s most pressing capital projects? What are your priorities? How would you pay for these?

COLEMAN: The most pressing capital project in my mind has to be schools. Everyone is aware of the growth that we have and continue to experience here in Iredell, and we need to have adequate space and quality facilities for our children to learn. Second, our Sheriff’s Office is in need of new facilities. They are currently spread across five locations, three of which could be operated for considerably less money if they were under the same roof. Finally, our health department, which is actually an old furniture store, will be in need of new facilities due to the expansion of Highway 21, and the fact that they have outgrown the building. It would be wise to build a new health department that we combine the health department and social services under the same roof in order to save money by maintaining one building instead of two.

IFN: Per pupil funding for I-SS ranks near the bottom of public school districts in N.C. Do you believe the Board of Commissioners adequately funds operations and the capital needs of Iredell-Statesville Schools, Mooresville Graded Schools and Mooresville Community College? If you would increase funding, how would you pay for it?

COLEMAN: Let’s be transparent here. “Per pupil funding for I-SS ranks near the bottom of public school districts” is a statement that is based off of both State and Local funding. Iredell County taxpayers currently contribute $2,232.00 per pupil multiplied by the ADM (average daily membership) which ranks seventh amongst the closest 15 surrounding counties. Local funding isn’t the bottom; it’s around the middle of the road. Unfortunately, N.C. ranks amongst the lowest when it comes to state funding for education. The education system is one of the most regulated departments within the government and the more regulated something is the higher its costs will be. As a commissioner, I will fight alongside our state representatives to deregulate spending in education so that we can create some flexible spending options for our local school system. The time is long past due that we start using some private market solutions for our publicly regulated problems. I will make it my mission to see that the bureaucracies of state regulation do not become the burdens of the Iredell County taxpayers.

IFN: Do you think commissioners adequately fund parks and recreation? Would you support an increase or cuts to this department?

COLEMAN: Community amenities like our parks and recreation department are a huge asset to us when it comes to bringing good paying jobs to Iredell. Companies are always looking at those kinds of amenities when deciding to start or expand their companies within a community. There are also a lot of benefits to the members of the communities as well, including senior programming, youth summer camps, and community events. Like any well-run department, its success depends on the people running it. Currently, I serve on the advisory board for the Parks & Rec Department and can tell you first hand that we have a lot of great new people that have the experience and passion to make that department one of the best in the state. Another goal is to see our parks and rec department take a more active role in the youth athletics in our county. By working together with schools and athletic associations, we have the ability to provide more opportunities for more children in our community to get involved with sports that may not otherwise get the chance.

IFN: Voters will decide in March whether to continue the practice of rewarding the top two vote-getters in the Board of Commissioners election with four-year terms and the third-place finisher with a two-year term OR having staggered elections with four-year terms for all seats. Do you support this? Why or why not?

COLEMAN: The way the system works now has accountability associated with it. If we don’t do our jobs as commissioners to the people’s expectations, the people have the ability to vote out three, effectively changing a majority of the board, every two years. That is a great set of checks and balances for the people. If I were to get a two-year term and wanted a four-year term then, I need to put in the work, serve the community, and earn it. My job as a commissioner is to serve the people, not worry about getting re-elected. So I will be voting no to that.

IFN: Why are you the best choice among the Republican candidates in the March 5 primary?

COLEMAN: The time and work that has been put into this campaign is what makes me the most prepared candidate for the job. Since deciding to run in 2020, I have attended every commissioners’ meeting in person. For four years now I have attended every budget workshop in person. Those meetings establish the county budget and spending plan each year. I have also attended numerous community outreach and organization group meetings to have a quality grasp on the concerns of the people. In the house of the wise is the multitude of counsel. So I have sought out the counsel of both past and present elected officials for a better understanding of the job and how to be effective in it. I currently serve on the Board of Health & the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. I have attended and audited all the other advisory boards in the county that advise the commissioners in order to gain a better understanding of how information flows to the board of commissioners. In 2022-2023 I served on the steering committee for the 2045 Horizon Plan, which established future zoning allocations for the county. We helped take the concerns of the people as it relates to growth and actually helped make some changes to help with the ongoing issue. Preparation and understanding is the key to performing in any arena. Having been constantly engaged in the county business and being a student of the county commission is what makes me the best choice on March 5.


Coleman launches bid for seat on Iredell County Board of Commissioners

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