Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips spoke to about 50 Republicans at the Guilford County Republican Party Executive Committee meeting Monday night at the Hilton Garden Inn on Big Tree Way.
The Guilford County GOP currently has no office, no headquarters, no physical location at all, so party meetings are being held in a meeting room at the Hilton Garden Inn.
Phillips, vice chair and former chair of the Board of Commissioners was first elected in 2012 when he pulled off a major upset and beat Democratic Commissioner Paul Gibson. He said the election taught him a lesson, “I’m not too concerned with trying to please everyone all the time.” He explained that after that election he realized 49 percent of the people in the district voted against him and he would probably never be able to please most of them, so he didn’t let that bother him.
Phillips said that the commissioners were faced with tough issues but, “voting isn’t that difficult if you know what your values are.” He said the Republican majority on the board disagreed on some issues, but having similar core values made it easier to reach a resolution.
Phillips along with Chairman Alan Branson and Commission Hank Henning were all elected for the first time in 2012 and their election gave Republicans a 5 to 4 majority on the Board of Commissioners, that majority has now lasted seven years.
Phillips talked about some of the changes the Republican majority had been able to bring to Guilford County and one of the most important of those according to Phillips was fiscal responsibility. He noted that they had been able to cut taxes four of the previous six years, while before 2012 the Democrats had raised taxes in six of the previous eight years.
Phillips explained that when the Republicans took office not only was the county $1 billion in debt, but they discovered that $90 million in bonds had been sold and had not been spent but that meant the county was paying interest on that $90 million for no reason. Phillips said it was the equivalent of taking out a home equity loan and then putting the money in the bank.
He said that the recent study that found the Guilford County Schools had $1.5 billion in building needs would have to be addressed and that a bond would most likely be placed on the ballot. When asked the amount of the bond, Phillips said, “Between zero and $1 billion.”
He was questioned about the county taking on more debt and Phillips said he had been skeptical about the extent of the problem but that when an independent study reported $1.5 billion in building needs the issue had to be addressed.
Phillips said two successes that the Board of Commissioners had accomplished under Republican leadership were opening the Family Justice Centers in Greensboro and High Point and finally fixing the mess in the operation of the Guilford County Animal Shelter and being in the process of building a much needed new animal shelter.