Boone County, Ky. Judge/Executive Gary Moore began his NACo presidency July 20 during NACo’s first-ever virtual annual business meeting. County News asked Moore about his background in county government and the challenges the coronavirus pandemic raises for counties.
How did you become interested in local government?
While he [my father] was sheriff (in Pendleton County, Ky.), my mom passed away. I would ride the school bus to the county courthouse at the end of each day. We’d get home, his office hours would be over and he would get that call that someone needed his services. He never once complained. It just was instilled in me in a very special way of serving others and being a great community servant.
Who influenced you to make you the leader you are today?
My father would be first. There is a gentleman that owned a business who was my business mentor. His nickname was “Biz” and he was the second phase of my personal growth. The final was my longtime pastor of my church, who really helped me develop my moral compass in life.
In your years serving as a county official, what has been your biggest challenge?
I’m one who likes to please everyone. When you serve the public as an elected official, you quickly learn that you’re going to make decisions that displease or disappoint some people.
What do you enjoy most about being a county official?
When I drive through my community and move around the county witnessing those things that we have done to make our community better — whether it’s a park, a new street that is relieving congestion or improving safety and making peoples’ lives better.
You selected the Leadership, Education, Action and Development (LEAD) initiative as your presidential priority. Can you tell us more about that?
I’m still amazed with the fact that many people don’t know what county government is and how we impact their lives. I want to help our county officials across the country educate their community as to how they impact the everyday lives of our residents. I’ve been talking a lot with the team about how we can help that education process fit any county. I’m talking about every group — elderly to youth. I do want to take the opportunity to educate and I’m talking a lot about the leadership development side. If we can continue to help develop our elected officials and staffs, that’s also part of the advancement of counties.
In what ways do you hope to help county officials respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The best part of NACo is always the sharing of best practices and learning from failures. I think now more than ever we will need to be sharing what is working and what is not with all counties.
What are additional challenges you see counties facing in the upcoming year?
Infrastructure funding, because one of the impacts of the COVID stay-at-home orders is that gas tax receipts are plummeting and that’s the lifeblood of funding for highway projects across our country. I see growing communities needing to expand and add to their transportation system. This is a year where the federal transportation bill will expire, and we need a re-authorization or a new authorization to be able to deal with that.
What do you hope to accomplish as NACo president?
There’s some concern that because we’re not meeting in person and not networking that NACo might lose its relevance or some might not see the value of NACo. I want to flip that coin. When counties are facing their greatest challenges, NACo is more important, more essential than it’s ever been. Sharing best practices, sharing failures where others can learn from those mistakes, being an advocate in our nation’s capital — all of those things demonstrate why NACo is so important.