Three candidates running for seats on the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners will be on the Democratic ballot for the May primary.

Chris Gash and Todd McIntosh will be up against incumbent Eddie Holbrook. The ballot for the Democratic primary allows voters to select two of the three candidates.

Voters registered as Democrats and unaffiliated voters can participate in the Democratic primary. Unaffiliated voters can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary.

The two Democrats selected in the primary will face Republican candidates Doug Bridges and Deb Hardin in the general election later this year.

Early voting for the primary begins Thursday and will conclude Saturday, May 5. The primary election will be held on Tuesday, May 8.

Holbrook has lived in Cleveland County for 50 years and is married to Millie Keeter-Holbrook. He has served as a basketball coach at Gardner-Webb University and Furman University, an owner of a sporting goods business, director of development and fundraising at Gardner-Webb, and director of development for the Cleveland County Family YMCA. He has been a county commissioner for the past 12 years.

McIntosh was born and raised in Cleveland County and is married to Victoria McIntosh. He has served as a quality engineer at Core Molding Technologies and a senior quality engineer at Dreaxlmiar Automotive. He has since obtained his real estate brokers license and is affiliated with Allen Tate Realtors in Shelby and Kings Mountain.

Gash was born and raised in Cleveland County and is married to Sharece Fluellen Gash. He has served as the independent living coordinator for youth and young adults in foster care at Cleveland County DSS. He is currently employed with Cleveland County Schools and is senior pastor of New Zion Baptist Church.

The Star asked each candidate three questions. These are their responses:

 

What is the No. 1 issue facing Cleveland County and how do you plan to respond to it?

Holbrook: “Workforce development is key to a strong future for Cleveland County. Programs I will promote include partnering with public and private schools and Cleveland Community College with the implementation of the dual track system; promoting growth and exposure of agribusiness; improving workforce training options; and educating students and parents through EDGE Factor experience. My primary goal would be no property tax increase during my next term of four years.”

McIntosh: “I think the No. 1 issue facing Cleveland County is the increase in crime rate in the teenage/young adult age group. My response to that is to strengthen the partnership between the school system, community college, and local manufactures to provide high school graduates and working citizens with specific skills needed for workforce readiness. This will give our citizens a positive option to make a living for their families rather than engaging in criminal activity. Also, I will support the Sheriff's department and police departments in gaining advanced training and obtaining new and innovative technologies to better equip themselves to protect us as citizens and to protect themselves.”

Gash: “I believe a safe and healthy community is key to our sustainability and continued growth. Our county succeeds in recruiting industry and we need to continue that effort. Moving forward we must address quality of life issues in Cleveland County. We see families living in poverty, concerns about substance abuse among our citizens, and experience the challenge of access to appropriate healthcare. My goal is to search for and strengthen partnerships with local industry, small businesses, educational entities, and nonprofits. With these partnerships we may together address underemployment and workforce readiness, market our county to potential residents, and recruit new industry to our community.”

 

How are you currently involved in the county?

Holbrook: “I am currently involved in the recruiting of four economic development projects that have the potential for 1,200 new jobs and $2.2 billion in new investment dollars. In addition to my work as a commissioner, I head the local American Legion World Series planning committee that brings millions of dollars into our community every August. National TV coverage of the series has increased awareness of Cleveland County and all the positives this community has to offer. For the last 10 years I have served as the senior dean of Cleveland Community College and the member of a team that has raised approximately $70 million for Cleveland Community College.”

McIntosh: “I provide mentorship to young men and women. I let them know that they choices and help them with their decision making.”

Gash: “I currently serve as the community quarterback for Cleveland County Schools, where we look at issues that affect student preparedness and success. I work with families, local agencies, and businesses to connect, create, and provide resources and educational opportunities, to empower all citizens in Cleveland County for success. I provide basketball camps and mentor youth at the YMCA. I am a member of the mental health board of directors, Gardner-Webb Alumni Advisory Board, Gardner-Webb Bulldog Club Advisory Board, and Shelby Breakfast Rotary. I serve as chaplain for the Gardner-Webb men’s basketball team and as senior pastor of New Zion Baptist Church.”

 

What specific skill or skills do you possess and how would that help you serve on the county board?

Holbrook: “I have served on the Board of Commissioners for the last 12 years. In 10 of those 12 years I have been the board’s economic development liaison and have helped bring 8,000 new jobs and $6.5 billion in new investment dollars into the county. I have experience in working with both sides of the aisle to accomplish goals that benefit all the citizens of Cleveland County. I have built significant relationships in economic development and political circles and continued time on the board will increase the benefits of those relationships.”

McIntosh: “Two main skills that I possess are communication/listening skills and problem solving skills. I obtained multiple problem solving techniques during my 18 year tenure as a quality engineer. I have an approachable personality. Which I think is a key characteristic to have when representing all the citizens with many different personalities in our county.”

Gash: “As a commissioner I will bring innovative ideas, a fresh perspective, hopes and dreams of our younger generation. As we continue to move forward in our great county, I believe our leaders must lead with transparency and integrity. I will be an intentional listener and work to strengthen our partnerships with all municipalities. Having worked as a county employee for eight years, I feel it is vital to provide each employee in Cleveland County encouragement, support, and opportunities for growth. I believe in collaboration and teamwork and know that together all of us will move this county forward not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors, our children, and generations to come.”