The published piece is here, but I've decided to publish my original responses to them because the published piece was slightly edited, although it appears only for space.
Thank you to Encore!
Survey for our Candidates for public office regarding “Buy Local” Consciousness and habits
1) Are you familiar with either the Buy Local ILM movement or the national Buy Local Movement?
Yes. I know people emphasize that across the nation, but I was not particularly aware of the local movement.
2) In our current economic climate, do you feel the Buy Local Movement important to the Cape Fear Region? Why or Why not?
I believe buying locally can be good, just like buying non-locally can be good. A locally produced good already has the advantage of lower transportation costs over non-locally produced goods. Even with that advantage, if someone chooses a good produced out of state, it means they're either happier with its quality or its cost, two very good reasons to buy something. I don't support subsidies to give one company an advantage over another.
3) How does your platform support small business, entrepreneurs and Buy Local?
The number one factor correlated with job, population and real income growth is a low tax burden. We have the 5th highest tax burden of the largest 33 NC cities. It's no wonder that our unemployment is up, and is higher than the county's as a whole. I also want to simplify the permitting process and reduce zoning restrictions, especially restrictions that artificially hamper the growth of mixed use development. Downtown Anaheim, CA implemented the zoning ideas that I advocate in 2003. In 2005, they had 1/3 more new businesses started than in the year before.
4) Do you feel that it is important for our government and educational institutions (ie UNCW, the community colleges and the school system) to source goods from our local or regional area? Why or why not?
Possibly. Like I said, locally produced goods and services already have an advantage over non-locally produced goods and services because the transportation costs are less. R3 was a local start-up who the county hired to manage its incinerator. The entire affair was a fiasco. Clearly, the R3 episode shows us that we shouldn't "go local" in every case.
5)Do you frequent farmer’s markets? Which ones? What are your thoughts on the place of agriculture within our local economy?
Yes, the Wilmington one. Granted, I'm usually handing out fliers for my campaign, but I still enjoy it and buy things there. Agriculture is essential, but we should not subsidize farming. New Zealand ended farm subsidies and output increased, net incomes rose and prices for staples like milk are among the lowest in the world. Additionally, most of the farm subsidies in America go to mega-farms, which only reduces competition.
6)What percentage of your consumer spending do you dedicate toward locally owned businesses (farms and foods included) ? Chain stores and restaurants? Shopping on the internet?
I really have no idea what the break down is, because I do go to stores like Tidal Creek and frequent a lot of restaurants, although I have no idea of how many of those are truly locally owned. I do go to Walmart, and save money there like the millions of people who shop there on a regular basis. The money I save at places like Walmart makes it easier to pay the rest of my bills, and would make it easier to start a business if I ever chose to.
7) What is your position on Film Incentives?
I don't like any sort of incentives, and that includes film incentives. Michigan had the most generous incentives of any state in the nation and it ended up costing them over one hundred million dollars. We could easily get in a war for the most lavish film subsidies. All that the government should do is provide a low tax burden and good infrastructure. That is the most we can, or should, do to incentivize production of anything.
8) What is your position on Incentives to attract new businesses to our area?
The most important incentives we can give a company to come to our area are: a low tax burden, safe streets, well-performing schools, a highly trained workforce, and the ability to easily expand if necessary. Again, our tax burden is the 5th highest of the largest 33 cities in NC. Is it any surprise that our unemployment is up and is higher than the county's? This is, of course, even though our local governments have offered "incentives" to certain businesses.
9) Do you support any sort of tax breaks or rewards for existing small businesses that provide jobs and pay into the tax base?
I support a low tax burden, but I do not support "rewards" for business that "provide jobs and pay into the tax base." Wouldn't just about every company both "provide jobs and pay into the tax base?" We should lower taxes on them, just like we should lower on everyday people. It seems like this varying of the tax rate based on how much they pay into the City coffers or how "valuable" they are to the local community is a sure road to cronyism. On my website http://www.fultonforcitycouncil.com/, I lay out a concrete plan for how to reduce our tax burden.
10) What are your thoughts regarding the collection and remittance of Sales Tax by large online retailers back to states and eventually municipalities like ours? Should they be forced to comply with sales tax collection?
It's always seemed odd to me that online retailers don't have to pay the same sales tax as everyone else. It seems like everyone should be paying the same rate that their state sets. However, my focus is almost always on lowering tax rates, not on raising them.