Oberkirsch targets taxes

Oct. 17, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

It was high taxes that spurred William “Bill” Oberkirsch’s decision to move to Sanford 10 years ago, and it’s high taxes now that have pushed him into the political fray.  

“I assure you I am not one who seeks the spotlight,” said Obe rkirsch, who moved here from Fuquay-Varina. “I try to shy away from it, but it got to the point where I felt enough was enough. Our taxes are getting way too high here in Sanford.”

Oberkirsch, a registered Republican, is seeking to oust incumbent Samuel Gaskins for the Ward 1 seat on the Sanford City Council. Voters will choose between them in the Nov. 5 municipal election.

A self-proclaimed military brat, Oberkirsch spent nine years in the armed forces and is now a programmer and data analyst for RTI International. He’s married to Elizabeth Oberkirsch, has twin sons who live in Washington and makes homemade wine, some of which has won state awards, he said.

There is more than one way to accomplish a task or goal, Oberkirsch said, something his background in programming has shown him and will be useful on the council if he is elected.

“(For example) we need to get this project done,” Oberkirsch said. “What are the different ways to approach this? What is the most effective way of doing that? That is how my programming experience can move over into city council.”

Oberkirsch said he understands why the council has raised taxes and utility rates, but now is not the time to be increase the financial load on the community.

“We’ve got to figure out how to reduce the burden on the people,” he said. “I’ve knocked on (more than) 500 doors so far, and a lot of the people I’ve talked to feel like they are being taxed out of their homes and property.”

With a combination of high unemployment in Lee County and families living on fixed incomes, the council must find alternatives to raising taxes, he said.

The funds for the city’s $14.5 million bond referendums, which were approved during the Sept. 10 municipal primary, should be managed closely, Oberkirsch said, and not “doled out in hopes that things get done.”

“It needs to be managed tightly,” he said. “This isn’t the city council’s money; this is the people’s money. So it needs to be scrutinized — every penny of it.”

If elected, Oberkirsch will join a Republican minority on the board, but he said he wouldn’t have trouble discussing the issues with fellow members of council.

“I do believe that everyone has a point of view,” he said. “I don’t mind listening as long as no one is ‘It’s gonna be my way or no way.’ That is the wrong way to get things done.”

Sharing ideas and listening to one another is how things are able to be accomplished, Oberkirsch said.

“I do listen and I do believe in listening to all sides of the story,” he said. “I don’t want to shut anyone down, and I don’t believe in shutting anyone down. There are groups out there who want their voices to be heard. Give that to them. We have the right to be heard, and everyone deserves to have a voice on city council. I believe the city council needs to represent all of the views here in Sanford — not just a few.”