NHC County Commission Candidate Profile: Derrick Hickey

May 2, 2012

Dr. Derrick Hickey says when he moved to Wilmington 10 years ago, New Hanover County’s economy was booming. 

It was a business-friendly place where the surgeon started his own business, Port City Orthopedics. Hickey’s served two years of a four-year term on the board of education and is now running for county commission. The Republican candidate told WHQR’s Sara Wood he’s running for the board because he wants to bring back the county he fell in love with 10 years ago.

Hickey says this comeback starts with the economy. He’s proposing several steps to help turn it around, including performance-based budgeting. Hickey says the budgetary process often rewards failure.

“If crime goes up, we give more money to the police. If the schools have poor test scores, we give more money to the schools. So what we do is we give more inputs when we have really poor outputs from the system rather than reforming the processes themselves.”

He says he wants to inject private competition into county services. Hickey says government should focus on safety, water and sewer services, and allow private companies to carry out all other non-essential services. He says the Yellow Pages test can be used to determine this split.

“So if you can open the Yellow Pages and you can find a private company that performs a function, then that is not an essential function of government. And so government and the private sector should compete to provide the best value for the citizens.”

A recent example of this he says is the board of education, which currently has multiple private landscape contractors providing services to schools.

“And we’re actually looking to see if it’d be more efficient for the county to take over these services. But that’s the kind of discussion that government needs to have. They need to look at the government sector and the private sector and to see how we can achieve efficiencies through competition.”

On the issue of the Titan Cement Plant, he says as a physician he understands the health issues. But he says he must refrain from making up his mind before getting to the commission seat.