CORNELIUS – Residents will have a lot to think about when they visit voting booths in November.
Along with the $20 million worth of bond referendums on the ballot, Cornelius voters will choose a new mayor and at least two new town commissioners.
Cornelius Commissioners Chuck Travis and John Bradford announced their intent to run for office at a joint press conference July 8 at the Cornelius Community Garden. Travis, the mayor pro tem, will run for mayor, while Bradford will seek his second term as a town commissioner.
“It is symbolic that we announce our candidacy here in our Community Garden, the first of more to come,” Travis said. “The weather may be dreary, but our prospects for this town are just like this garden - full of promise and fruitful growth. It is also important that we are here in Smithville, because it is significant as board members to acknowledge our town’s history and also plant the seeds for the future generation.”
Mayor Lynette Rinker announced last month that she would not run for re-election, having served in the role for only seven months after Jeff Tarte left to join the N.C. Senate in January. Rinker said she would seek a higher office in 2014, but she has not announced what the office would be.
Bruce Trimbur, who was appointed July 8 as a commissioner, won’t run to retain his seat in November, Rinker said.
The elections arrive amid public discussion surrounding proposed toll lanes along Interstate 77. A couple members of the anti-toll lane group, Widen I-77, held “No tolls on I-77” signs during the press conference.
“One of the benefits of getting I-77 widened is that we are going to be taking down the Westmoreland bridge as part of the widening process,” Travis said. “It opens up the opportunity for us to have a new exit, which will be Exit 27. Why is that important? It’s another gateway to our town.”
Travis also emphasized that building a Westmoreland exit could bring new life to the failed Augusta Lee property, including business centers, retail and office space.
“It’s just going to open up new opportunities for us in town,” he said.
Bradford said that the reason for a joint announcement was to show support for fellow commissioners and that they are “both pro business, like-minded people.”
“As a Cornelius-based business owner with over 40 employees, I understand first-hand the important impact that local business has on our town and region,” Bradford said.
Jim Duke and William Sykes will also campaign for the Cornelius commissioner seats.
Having served as president of the Peninsula Home Owners Association for six years, Duke wanted to take a greater role with the town. He’s interested in growth and transportation, particularly bringing more companies and expanding the tax base.
He serves as chairman of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg utilities advisory committee and the Cornelius representative on the MI-Connection board of directors.
Managing the town’s growth is a big reason Sykes is running for office. The biggest issue he’d like to tackle is development, centered around the non-tolling of I-77.
“Given the fact that the area’s development is hinged on and tied directly to transportation, it’s very important that we make the right decisions now and not tie the citizens of the area up for the next 50 years.”
He previously served on the Revaluation Committee for North Mecklenburg.
In Huntersville, Mayor Jim Swain and Commissioner Sarah McAulay filed for re-election. Rob Kidwell, a production manager for SATA America, is seeking a seat on the commission.
In Davidson, Mayor John Woods, as well as commissioners Jim Fuller, Rodney Graham and Brian Jenest filed for re-election. The board will have at least one new commissioner following Laurie Venzon’s departure last month.
Rhonda Lennon will run for re-election as District 1 representative for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education. District 1 encompasses schools in the northern part of the county.
Town seats up for grabs
• Town of Cornelius – Mayor and five commissioner seats
• Town of Davidson – Mayor and five commissioner seats
• Town of Huntersville – Mayor and six commissioner seats