DAVIDSON – Jim Fuller evokes the spirit of Davidson Wildcats basketball in describing the effectiveness of town commissioners over the past two years.

“Coach (Bob) McKillop’s team doesn’t have their names on their shirts, because they are a team,” Fuller said. “It is my honest belief that we’ve done a lot of good work in the last two years, and we’ve worked as a team. We don’t argue. We don’t posture. We try to solve problems.”

The team concept reverberated throughout a candidate forum held Oct. 15 at Davidson Town Hall, sponsored by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and DavidsonNews.net.

Incumbents spent much of the forum talking about preserving Davidson’s charm and high quality of life while continuing to improve the zoning ordinance for the town’s limited amount of commercial space.

Fuller said the board has welcomed more than two dozen new companies, while Brian Jenest and Connie Wessner pointed to a citizen survey that ranked the board favorably on a number of qualities.

Wessner encouraged the crowd at Davidson Town Hall to not only re-elect her, but to vote for her three colleagues on the board, as well. 

“This team up here works,” Wessner said of the four incumbents.

While the group has only served one term with each other (Fuller and Rodney Graham were elected in 2011), they’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to work together, Wessner said. She described the board as a group of rigorous thinkers who work hard to bring as many voices to the discussion.

The four other candidates faced the challenge of penetrating a team defense to establish themselves as worthy of joining the board. Laurie Venzon’s departure over the summer left a vacant commission seat, opening the door for at least two new faces on the board.

Vince Winegardner was the most aggressive. He was critical of leadership for letting the state move forward on a plan to put high-occupancy toll lanes through Lake Norman’s portion of Interstate 77.

Winegardner said the move could hurt the town much worse than the decision a few years ago to partner with Mooresville to acquire the old Adelphia cable system and create MI-Connection.

“We heard a lot about the team approach,” Gardner toward the end of the forum. “Well, the team approach brought us Adelphia cable. The team approach is bringing us HOT lanes.”

Gardner believes the town could use board members that exhibit independent thought.

“If you vote for four new faces, Sen. Tarte will know that,” Gardner said. “The rest of the representatives in Raleigh will hear it, and they will make a change on this tolling issue.”

Other challengers were more diplomatic.

“I’m uniquely qualified because I am not on the board currently,” said Beth Cashion, a member of the Davidson Planning Board. “I think everything needs new, fresh eyes. I think people need to rotate through. They bring different ideas and different visions.”