Gaskins touts business savvy

Oct. 17, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

With business savvy and a dedication to community service, Samuel Gaskins said he’s the right choice for Ward 1.

“I’ve been heavily involved with the people of the city of Sanford for nearly 30 years,” said the Indiana native. “On a face-to-face basis, and long before I was elected into office, I was out in the public working and volunteering.”

Gaskins, a registered Democrat who represents Ward 1 and is mayor pro tem, is looking to retain his seat in the Nov. 5 municipal election against Republican challenger William “Bill” Oberkirsch.

“I hope [the voters] know a lot about me,” Gaskins said. “Obviously, my focus has been and will be community service. It has been for the 30 years that I have lived here. My wife and I have both been heavily involved in community service.”

Gaskins, who spent his first 30 years in Indiana, received two degrees in chemistry and worked for RCA and Pfizer before teaching chemistry at Guilford Technical Community College. Gaskins didn’t hold political office while in Indianapolis but said he’s always had an interest in the workings of government.

Former Councilman Phil Dusenbury recruited Gaskins to run because of his devotion to community service, Gaskins said.

Gaskins has served as past president and vice president of the Sanford Kiwanis Club, past president of the Sanford Brush and Palette Club and past president of the Helping Hand Clinic, among other organizations. 

“I really am pleased to see Sanford growing and progressing,” he said. “We have done so much to improve the quality of life for Sanford, and now, with the passage of those bond referenda, we’ll be able to hopefully improve the quality of life. It will be very helpful for economic development.”

The council, regardless of who is on the board, should move forward with following the people’s wishes to full revitalize downtown Sanford through the city’s $14.5 million in bond referendums, Gaskins said.

“That needs to be done at a nice, steady pace,” he said. “We are going to try and, again, hold the line as best as we can, as far as taxes, even though they have given us the OK if we need to. I think we can progress so we can minimize the burden of the taxes and make Sanford a nicer city.”

Some of Gaskins’s accomplishments, he said, include helping rid the city of the business privilege tax and maintaining the property tax rate after the Lee County Board of Commissioners voted to change the sales tax distribution method in April — costing the city $1.6 million throughout the next 14 months.

“I have to give credit to the city staff who gave me all the documents I needed before I even took office,” Gaskins said. “As a business manager of multi-million dollar budgets, I could see where we could save a quarter of a million dollars, [which] was what we were bringing in with tax. So we were able to remove the business privilege tax.”

Citing assets that separate him from his opponent, Gaskins said, “lots of experiences managing businesses,” as well as “being involved with both RCA and Pfizer, huge corporations, as a business manager handling huge budgets. And community service.”