photo by Heather Renee 

Arbitrary Tax Dept
Illegal Subsdies
Wasted Legal Fees
Zero-based Budgets
Waterfront Taxes
Profile & Family
School Superintendent
E.L. Rescue Squad
E.L. Fire Dept
E. L. Sewer District
Campaign Financing
The School Board
The Landfill

My Sample Ballot for the 2016 GOP Primary 

You should expect your elected representatives to represent YOU.  Your voice should be heard and you should actively be asked your opinions about issues that impact us all.  Commissioners should vote YOUR agenda, not their own. 

I pledge to be that kind of commissioner.

And I think outside the box! 

Please vote for Martin Oakes during the Republican primary in May.

Core Beliefs:
  • Citizens DESERVE to have more say in the issues of the day.
  • Taxpayers should not pay more in taxes than absolutely necessary to provide the services for which they voted.

    Goals if elected:
    • Hire new top management in the Tax and Assessors offices.
    • Find a way to build an "empty shell" building in an industrial park, so we can offer a new business an immediate move-in.
    • Recruit citizen expert advisors in some of the fields where the county now rushes to hire outside consultants. We have many retired citizens with amazing expertise -- at least equal to most of the outside consultants.
    • Cut the water rate by 5% -- eliminate the subsidy to sewer customers.
    • Cut the EL sewer tax by 2/3 -- move 2/3 of the debt from the sewer district to the sewer system, which equals the remaining cash stolen from the sewer district in 2006.
    • Put in place an independent review of legal cases to prevent spending money on lost causes -- amounts to about $100,000 per year for the past four years.
    • Find some way to NOT spend money renovating the hospital.

    At the moment, the worst part of county government is the arrogant and arbitrary Tax Department, whose management sorely needs replacing.  In second place is some of the illegal cross-subsidies in place involving utility departments.  In third place is the failure to correctly assess the county's approach to court actions, which have led to four high profile, expensive losses in court -- one costing the county the legal fees of their opponents. In fourth place is the need to cut taxes without cutting services or staff (stop thinking of the debt service as a fixed number -- don't spend to get UP to that level, reduce debt service, reduce taxes by the same amount).

    Economic development (==new jobs) is important to entire county, and has generally been handled quite well.  However, we could do better.  In past years the economic development team has been able to have an empty building in an industrial park, ready for move-in.  But we don't anymore since developers are unwilling to finance this.  A large Chinese manufacturer just located their headquarters in the county, but the associated plant may go somewhere else since there's no building available.  The county will need to loan funds for utility lines and roads to get the new building kick-started again.

  • Proactive


    There's a general tendency among people who have authority to become complacent or arrogant, or both.  Whether those people are spending the taxpayer's dime, or imposing restrictions on our quality of life, they should be held accountable. 

    My approach to holding authorities accountable is by asking questions.  First I spend time to research and gain the knowledge needed of the subject matter.  Next I ask the important questions of those in authority, the ones deciding how and where tax money is spent – yours and mine alike.  It’s easy, IF you already have the facts.   When responses reveal accurate data promptly, typically the manager is doing his job well.  Often though, questions produce responses of "I don't know" or obvious evasions.  Why are these responses such big problems?

    Poor data leads to poor decisions, wasted time and wasted money.  As your County Commissioner I will ensure that the facts have been acquired and are being presented accurately.  I will not micro-manage the process, but will certainly double-check that there actually was a process, instead of a short-cut “guessing game”.

    Why are detailed processes and close monitoring so important?  When projects using your tax money lack these things, we have fiascos such as: 

      The Blades Trail development (both the run-off/clear-cutting and lost performance bond) 
      The very late new Sewer Plant Project
    The real estate tax revaluations of 2008 and 2011
      The attempt to send surplus Rescue Squad funds
          (originally your tax money and donations) out of the County
      Land purchases for schools that turn out to be either unusable or require
           major construction to fix critical problems.


    Responsive Knowledgeable

    The time I put into acquiring the right information and appropriately questioning the authorities and fighting important battles for you, the citizens, has already paid off in several instances.  A few examples are as follows:  

    -          A planned landfill planned to be built in 2006 behind a residential development was stopped.

    -          Instead of the Rescue Squad sending almost $1m of taxpayer money on the pet projects of the board of directors, pressure was applied to make them negotiate with the County Commissioners -- now East Lincoln will be getting a new park.

    -          The East Lincoln Sewer Tax was reduced to less than 2 cents from 7.5 cents following protests to county commissioners by myself and others on the team that the taxes were being used to subsidize expansion of the sewer districts to non-taxpaying areas.  Once the outstanding debt for the original plant is paid off, this tax will vanish!  However they're still playing games with the finances.

    -          Possible changes to the recent tax revaluation, which included gross errors and biases (still pending).  The next revaluation was moved in one year and is now complete.  Some changes were made but the overall process has again resulted in inequitable valuations.

    -          Highlighted the great work of School Superintendent Dr. Martin from the attempt to get him fired. 

    Those are some well-known issues.  But there are many others, resulting from discussing issues with County Commissioners or the County manager. 

    I always stay informed on the important issues that Lincoln County faces.  I've attended 70% of the county commission meetings over the past four years, and more than 80% of the planning sessions or special joint meetings with the School Board.   If I miss a meeting, I get a copy of the audio and listen to it.


    Organizational Skills

    I've been a long-term member of ELBA and The Chamber of Commerce.  I'm a founder of the Lincoln Shoreline Community Organization. I've also been a member of the Executive Committee of the County Republican Party, and, until filing to run, was the Vice-Treasurer.  The Party Executive recently honored my work with the 2012 Republican of the Year award.

    I've managed organizations as large as 50 people, but, more importantly, have grown staff from zero up to 35 people, starting with seed money or investor's money.  I've worked in 6 start-up companies, three of which I co-founded. 



    My Dad was a self-employed electrician, and as a youngster I helped him on Saturdays and summers re-wiring older houses.  I had my own tool belt, including the electrician’s pliers shown here.  When a cable had to be run through a hot, ancient attic full of cobwebs, guess who did it?  The young, nimble kid!  I soon hated attics. 

    Whenever I showed signs of slacking off in school, my Dad always grabbed the pliers and said, “Don’t worry, if you flunk out, there’s a pair of pliers waiting for you in the truck!”  (Several years ago my Dad finally admitted he had deliberately given me the dirtiest jobs available).  My Dad motivated me to work hard and be successful the old-fashioned way, by earning it!

    Those pliers paid my college tuition when I worked as an electrician in a steel mill for several summers.  I received academic scholarship money, lived at home to save money, and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, cum laude. 

    Now that my children have kids of their own, and I'm retired, I look forward to devoting more of my time to helping the community by listening to the citizens, gathering the right information and acting proactively.

    Citizens of Lincoln County, you should expect your elected representatives to represent YOU.  Your voice should be heard and you should actively be asked your opinions about issues that impact us all.  Commissioners should vote on YOUR behalf!  I pledge to be that kind of commissioner.  I think outside the box!  Please vote for Martin Oakes during the Republican primary in May.


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    Copyright © 2012 Elect Martin Oakes
    Last modified: 03/04/12