May 02

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Danko & Petera – Their Primary Differences

From the Outer Banks Sentinel:  



Danko and Petera offer contrasts in Dare Board race

Anne Petera and Ed Danko have a few things in common. They both characterize themselves as conservative, both are running in the Republican primary for the at-large Dare Board of Commissioners’ seat being vacated by Jack Shea, and both announced their candidacies at the same Dare GOP Executive Committee meeting. 

 But both stylistically and substantively, they offer a number of clear contrasts.

 When it comes to the issue of taxes in Dare County, Petera says she is leery of pledges and promises, because “you never say ‘never’ when you go into elective office. Be careful what you promise.” For his part, Danko said in a Sentinel interview that, “I’d rather drink weed killer than vote for a tax increase…I will never vote to raise taxes, never.”

 Danko uses the term ‘RINO’ (Republican in Name Only) to criticize those he sees as insufficiently conservative, saying a “vote for me is a vote to drain the ‘RINO’ swamp in Dare County.” Petera, who is critical of “name calling” in politics, told the Sentinel that “I’ve never liked the word ‘RINO.’ I never have used it.…I don’t believe that because you align with a political party, that means you vote the same way every single time on every single issue.”

 In his attack-oriented campaign videos and ads, the Danko campaign takes dead aim at his opponent, regularly mocking her as “Lyin’ Anne.” Asked about those videos, Petera said simply:  “I don’t campaign that way.”

 The candidates also seem to represent different elements of a local GOP that has been divided by philosophical, and perhaps some personal, rifts.

 Danko and the Dare County GOP severed ties in an acrimonious divorce in February, and he has made no secret of his opposition to the party’s top leaders. Petera, who is the treasurer of the Dare County Republican Party, is viewed as more aligned with that leadership, including Dare Board of Commissioners Chair Bob Woodard.

 When asked about the stakes in this year’s elections — which features two GOP primary matches that could potentially shift the board’s balance of power and leadership — they also answer differently. 

 “Any time you change the composition of the board, then the election of the chairman becomes more of a question mark,” Petera acknowledged, before adding that, “I don’t really think of it that way at all.” Danko declared that, “I want to change our board of commissioners to a conservative board,” rather than one dominated by “Bob Woodard and a few of his ‘RINO’ friends.”

 Petera, who calls herself a “common sense conservative,” spent about a quarter century in the private sector. She also served as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security under President George Bush, was Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Director of Administration for the Virginia Attorney General. 

 Explaining that she first started coming to the Outer Banks as a teenager, Petera moved here permanently in October 2015.

 Danko, who describes himself as  “the real Trump conservative” and is a Navy Veteran, spent 40 years working in television news at NBC, CBS and CNN, covering events throughout the world and working in positions ranging from editor of “Face the Nation” to Pentagon editor.

Noting that he first visited the Outer Banks back in the 1970s, Danko became a permanent resident in November 2016.

Both say their careers have helped prepare them for the job they’re seeking. As someone who covered numerous natural disasters, Danko said, “I know that if government doesn’t work, people don’t get help. I’ve seen the good, the bad and ugly of government working or not working…I’ve learned a lot doing that and I think I have a lot to contribute to government.”

 “I worked in real estate…I worked in commercial banking. I worked in state government,” stated Petera. “I worked in the federal government. I worked with federal government contractors….I come into the job not needing any training, except for what’s specific to Dare County….”

If there’s one issue that has magnified the differences between the two candidates, it is the tax increase that raised rates from $0.43 to $0.47 per $100 of valuation that the board approved last year.

 “I see it as being a big deal,” asserted Danko, who has labeled it the “Petera-Woodard property tax increase.” In one of his sharp-elbowed commercials, he said, “Lower taxes mean jobs. Lower taxes means growth, lower taxes means opportunity…This Trump tax bill lowering our taxes is a great example of that.”

 When asked why there was no significant outcry at the time the tax increase passed, Danko responded that, “Many voters didn’t even know there was a property tax increase until they got their bill.”

In discussing taxes, Petera refers to the campaign pledge not to raise taxes pushed by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “I know all about being asked to take the ‘I promise’ pledge,” she said. “I worked for elected officials who did not take it when they ran…And I agree with this, because you never say never when you go into elective office. Be careful what you promise.”

“I would prefer not to raise taxes, but I would never promise that,” she added. “I don’t have a crystal ball.”

Another issue that divides the candidates, and one that stirs passions here, is the Trump Administration’s proposal to expand offshore drilling, something that has run into significant opposition from the commissioners and municipal governments on the Outer Banks. 

Danko expresses support for the current plan to expand offshore drilling, citing the need to remain energy independent and what he says would be several thousand jobs added through the offshore energy industry.

Petera argues, however, that on the Outer Banks, the offshore drilling “risk is too great for an economy that’s so rooted in tourism to take. I’ve been to the Gulf Coast. I’ve seen what happened there…In general I’m very much supportive of American energy independence…I just don’t think we should allow the government to risk what we have here.”

In one of his campaign videos, Danko accuses Petera of flip flopping on the drilling issue, saying she voted to support it at a previous GOP event. While acknowledging that “I could have raised my hand and gone on record [opposing the ban], I did not vote one way or the other” in that instance, Petera said, explaining that it was a voice vote. “I just sat there and didn’t say anything, and didn’t make a big issue of it.”

Regarding the controversial repeal of the Outer Banks plastic bag ban, Petera added that, “I understand that it was an unconstitutional law…But it’s been in effect, everybody’s used to it and it had a good impact. In a perfect world, would I like government to stay out of telling business what they can and cannot do? Yes. But why reverse something that everybody’s used to?”

On the subject of school safety, which has become a major issue since the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the candidates emphasize different priorities. Petera said she is supportive of educators being armed “if a teacher has concealed carry and they are fearing for their lives when they come into school every day.”

“My big issue about guns is getting them out of the hands of people who have mental issues,” she added. “I don’t know why, but we abandoned our mental health system in this country about thirty years ago. We need to put it back together.”

For his part, Danko stresses another proposed solution.

“I’m in favor of allowing our teachers with carry permits access to their weapons in their classroom. I support hiring retired military and retired police officers as additional armed security to assist our brave school resource officers,” he said. “We have one resource officer at each school…That’s just not enough bodies to do the job.”



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