Scott has to-do list

pseligson@newsobserver.comNovember 22, 2013 

Travis Scott says he will focus on four issues while serving on the Smithfield Town Council: leadership, spending, business growth and communication.

In the Nov. 5 election, Scott ran unopposed for Smithfield’s District 3 seat, the same seat he sought unsuccessfully in 2009.

First, Scott said, he wants to build a strong leadership team in Smithfield.

“It seems like in the past that there’s not been a lot of teamwork and I’m a big advocate of team work,” he said. The team, he added, includes not just council members but also the town’s department heads and business owners.

Scott also plans to make sure Smithfield’s spending is efficient and focused, especially on infrastructure. To that end, he’s been studying the town’s budget and utility systems.

“To be able to understand what’s wrong, I’ve got to understand how they operate, so I plan to spend hours learning about the town government things I don’t already know,” Scott said.

Some streets need repair, he said, and the town needs a stronger strategic plan for its infrastructure. He also wants to find ways to make the sewer and water systems more efficient.

Scott will also focus on business growth.

“One of my goals is to better understand the challenges that business owners face when they try to come to our town,” he said. “I’ve heard that there’s been struggles in the past, and I want to understand those struggles.”

For example, Scott said, the landscaping required by Smithfield’s Unified Development Ordinance can be costly, which could push a new business away. Also, to start a business in Smithfield, an owner has to call on several town and county agencies to obtain permits, building inspections, the proper zoning, etc. The complicated process can discourage bus growth, Scott said.

He wants to put appoint a committee of business owners who would make recommendations for improving the process, he said.

“Instead of clearing the path and helping (businesses) come into the town, we’re putting up roadblocks,” Scott said. “I want to make sure we’re clearing roadblocks and we’re encouraging growth and business.”

Scott said the town needs to improve its appearance to attract businesses.

“I feel it’s important that we have a positive image, and that specifically relates to the gateways of the community,” he said.

These gateways include the signs into town, the interstate exit and the water tower.

Better communication

The new councilman also wants to focus on communication with citizens.

“I feel like our citizens need answers,” Scott said. “They need answers to past and present issues and future issues, and I want to make sure that we communicate effectively with our citizens.”

The first step is improving the town’s website, he said, keeping it up to date with new and relevant information. Scott also wants to bring more of the town council’s work online so that people can easily see what’s going on; for instance, the council could hold some discussions online with a virtual meeting.

Scott said Smithfield’s biggest issue right now is leadership. He said the town needs to find the right person to replace Earl Botkin, the public utilities director who resigned recently to take a similar job in Kinston.

Scott, 33, is a paramedic supervisor with Johnston County Emergency Medical Services. He also teaches EMS courses and other classes at Johnston Community College.

Scott grew up in Reidsville in Rockingham County but moved to Johnston County to be with family after high school. He earned a degree in applied sciences from Johnston Community College in 2001. He earned his paramedic certification in 2002 and later graduated from Davidson College with a degree in emergency sciences in 2007. Scott joined the Smithfield Rescue Squad as a volunteer in 1999. That became a full-time job in 2003; five years later, he became a supervisor.

Scott’s other passion is his church, The Bridge Church in Princeton.

“Community and church are very important to me,” he said, adding that he operates lighting and sound equipment for the church.

Mitch Grantham, the media director at The Bridge Church, said Scott is a great guy.

“He’ll be nothing but a benefit,” Grantham said of Scott’s service on the town council. “Smithfield will be a greater place because of Travis.

“He doesn’t just look at the here and now,” Grantham added. “He looks ahead, and he tries to see the big picture, and he’s done that definitely here at The Bridge. He’s always thinking, How can we improve? What can we do better? What did we do wrong? Learn by our mistakes. (He’s) that type of guy.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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