New Hanover County native Buck O’Shields is not a new name to the race for county commission.
Back in the mid-1970s, he served on the board of commissioners for 12 years, spending 3 of those years as chairman. As the Republican candidate told WHQR’s Sara Wood, one of the biggest reasons he’s come back to the races is the county’s solid waste problem.
The retired businessman says he worked hard as a former commissioner on the waste management issue. In 2009 he served as chair of a solid waste advisory board that presented a report proposing long-term solutions to the commissioners. The proposal was rejected and O’Shields says the board let the issue fall into disrepair.
“It’s got to be taken care of or we’re going to be reading about ourselves in the newspaper again like we did some years back when we didn’t have a landfill and we couldn’t get rid of our waste.”
One solution, he says would be to bring back the WASTEC program. When asked about the proposed Titan Cement plant, O’Shields says he’s as concerned about the environment as other residents, but to comment on his position would be to take himself out of the picture before he even gets into it. He says spending county money to build new schools and libraries is generally favorable with voters, but less appealing is funding the maintenance of existing infrastructure. He says upkeep is something the county has been lax about.
“When people talk to me about cutting taxes, I say ‘Well if I’m elected how about you telling me now what you think I’ll cut? Do you want me to cut the school’s budget? Health department? Inspections department? When you put in that tone it gets a little bit hard for people to say cut taxes.”
O’Shields says with many county retirements and fresh-faced candidates running for commission, his experience and background are key.
“I don’t have to take a course of how county government runs because I’ve been there, I’ve helped set it up.”