ALBEMARLE — It’s been a little over one month since the Stanly County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to name Bill Lawhon as its chairman.
Now in his seventh year on the board, and his 59th year as a resident of the county, Lawhon says he has a clear view of what he considers his personal mission as county chairman: the promotion of fiscal responsibility.
“What we do is try to sufficiently fund our county government and the departments; but my goal is to have it funded without increasing our property taxes on our citizens,” Lawhon told SCJ on Jan. 8. “My main objective as a commissioner and chairman is to work for all of our citizens in Stanly County.”
Lawhon, who spent his formative years growing up in Albemarle, worked for an automobile financing business called American Credit Company for the first seven years of his professional career. From 1979 until his retirement in 2015, Lawhon served in the banking industry, a career that required him to move often throughout various southeastern states of the country.
“In my early adult life, my family moved away for 10 years; five of those were in the North Carolina mountains, two were in Winston Salem, and the remaining time were in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,” Lawhon said. “Every place we lived, we enjoyed the great people. The reason we moved so often is because I was transferred and it seemed like every time I needed an increase in wages, I was offered a transfer.”
But as fate would have it, Lawhon found himself with an opportunity to return to his hometown — a decision he now calls “the best move he’s ever made.”
“Stanly County is in the heart of the Piedmont in the middle of North Carolina — the best state in the nation — where we are three hours from the mountains and three hours from the coast,” Lawhon said. “However, what makes Stanly County great are the people that live here.”
As one of the seven members of the board of commissioners, Lawhon says that while it isn’t very common for the board to be sharply divided on particular issues, each commissioner has their own ideas and skill sets.
His view is that the differing backgrounds of the seven commissioners is a strength of the board — not a weakness. Ultimately, Lawhon says he hopes that his board’s meetings in 2021 will be more opportunities for the commissioners to make responsible decisions regarding the handling of county funding.
“Every time we make a decision, we’re spending taxpayer dollars, and we need to be very mindful of how we spend them. We’re like anyone else — we need to live within our budget,” he said.
The next Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting is set to take place on Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. in Albemarle.