Candidate Interview, August 3, 2004 Primary Election
Dennis Norcross for Western Commissioner - Democrat
Text of Warrensburg Free Press article
Interview was conducted at Norcross's residence.
Interview – Dennis Norcross for Western Commissioner, Republican
Dennis Norcross of rural Warrensburg seeks the Western Commissioner nomination on the Democrat ticket. Born and raised in the Pittsville area, he is a lifelong county resident. He has a degree in Business Management from Tarkio College and works as a lineman for Sprint. He served extensively in the National Guard, where he was a Platoon Sergeant in charge of around 30 people and maintenance of 14 aircraft. He has served as treasurer for several organizations and did extensive research on duties of the County Commission during his unsuccessful race for Presiding Commissioner in 2002.
Norcross views the jail as a significant problem area. He is pleased to the effort, which he advocated in 2002, now being made. He believes that when the costs to maintain an older building are excessive, it is time to replace it. He agrees with the sales tax as a method of financing the jail since it is paid by everyone, not just property owners.
Norcross recognizes that any support for planning and zoning is unpopular, but he believes that county growth will require it to be looked at. He notes that sewage problems continue to exist, but is not certain if the money is there to cure the problem. He states that he would not initiate zoning, since it is up to the people to request it. He would support a nuisance ordinance aimed at such problems as trash, abandoned vehicles and general junk, but thinks the definition of a nuisance needs to be very explicit. While he thinks some nuisances should be complaint-driven, he is not particularly sympathetic to those who move into an area where a preexisting activity may bother new arrivals. He does think some sort of building codes may be needed based on some buildings he has seen in the county.
Norcross supports economic development, but believes that many people do not based on the objections to the proposed Lowe’s store. He noted the loss of manufacturing business in the area and thinks that more should be done to encourage new business. The county should help development of a new industrial park to the extent its resources allow. If financial incentives are to be provided to business, he prefers bonds to tax breaks and would like to see them voted on. Seizure of private property for economic development purposes, he states, “isn’t right.”
Norcross believes the county is doing a good job with the hard surface roads program, but notes that roads are a decreasing part of the Commission’s responsibilities. He agrees with the original priority system that paved roads connecting existing major roads. He wonders why the state roads are so neglected but suspects that sometime in the past a bad relationship with the Department of Transportation was established and whatever problems existed need to be overcome.
Norcross does not in general support new taxes unless for a clearly defined benefit such as sewage enforcement, etc. He supports the jail issue on the basis of economics. While he states he is not that familiar with county employee salary levels and their comparability to similar counties, he favors examining any imbalance to see if changes are needed. He indicates that the law enforcement budget needs close scrutiny, stating “you can’t expect deputies to work for nothing, but you can’t spend all the budget on them.” He notes that the current commission’s decision to hire a personnel manager has good and bad points; he hopes that it leads to better labor relations and makes the cost of the position worthwhile.
His political philosophy is geared toward looking at the person and the person’s capabilities for the job rather than strictly political party affiliation; however, he disagrees with a single party holding all the seats on the county commission. If elected, he says he will serve all the residents of the county. He states. “I would like the opportunity to be western commissioner to carry on what Bob Banes started. Bob is highly respected and well-liked throughout the district. If elected, in four years I would like to think people would speak as highly of me.”