Ask Rich Permenter where he’s from, and he’ll have a hard time giving you a concrete answer.
Permenter, a Denver resident and Republican candidate for the Board of Commissioners, was born in Washington, D.C. into a family whose patriarch was a career Coast Guard man. But he left the nation’s capitol at six weeks old, and traveled all over the world through his own military and public service until settling in Lincoln County after retiring in 2003.
While he may not claim a place of origin, he’s perfectly able to say where he’s headed.
“This is where I’m going to live until I take a dirt nap,” he said. “I like it — I like the west side of the county and I like the east side of the county. I like Lincolnton. The first time I drove into Lincolnton, and drove around the courthouse, I thought ‘Ok, I’m back in small-town America.’ We were pretty much sold on it.”
Permenter enlisted in the Marine Corps at 18 years old and served two tours in Vietnam. He then served for nearly 30 years as a commissioned officer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a branch of the US Department of Commerce that handles “daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce,” according to its website.
His resume from his time at NOAA includes service as Chief of Operations for the west coast fleet, a ship commander and Director of Special Projects.
Permenter discovered Lincoln County and Lake Norman while driving his daughter from Virginia Tech, where she was a student, to visit his parents in Florida. When he and his wife of 46 years, Jan, were mulling where to retire, his daughter mentioned the lake.
He said he had a couple of requirements when choosing where to settle down — “a boat tied up at a dock (he) could walk to” and close proximity to his daughter, who lives outside Winston-Salem.
Permenter became active on boards and committees in the SailView subdivision after moving to Denver, and has held positions with the Lake Norman Marine Commission and the Lincoln County Board of Equalization and Review, which hears taxpayer appeals. He said seeking elected office was a rational next step.
“I really believe that if you have the ability and the right experience, and you have the time for community service, you have to do it,” he said. “I looked at my own qualifications, and what’s required for county commissioner, and I then saw that only two people had originally filed for the two vacant seats, and that made me mad. If I don’t do it, shame on me. If the people don’t care enough to choose what they want for their government, they’re going to get what they deserve. That old statement, ‘you get the government you deserve,’ is absolutely true.“
Permenter said he spends his spare time home-brewing beer, muzzle-loader hunting and boating.