Election: China Grove
CHINA GROVE — Although the candidates vying to win a seat on the China Grove town board are vastly different in their experiences, all five say town growth is highly important to them.
Growth is a top concern for incumbents Brandon Linn, Charles Seaford and Mike Upright, who are seeking their second terms. The other two candidates — Barbara Doby and Butch Bivens — have served multiple previous terms.
Seaford, 61, won a seat on the board for the first time in 2009.
“Some of our most important issues are economic development, town roads and highways. We are looking at alternate ways to repair our roads because of cost and the budget,” Seaford said.
The town has been working for some time to resurface streets, and as recently as last year resurfaced a number of residential streets.
Seaford said bringing in new businesses and industry to China Grove would help provide a steady tax base.
Seaford noted the current board’s work with its creation of a land-use plan. He said it will give them an idea of what the town could develop into within the next three to five years.
Seaford graduated from North Rowan High School in 1970 and from Pfeiffer College in 1974 with a degree in accounting, business and economics.
Seaford is a member of Rodgers Park Baptist Church where he serves as the Sunday school director and teaches the adult Sunday school class.
Seaford is married to Telia “TJ” Waugh Seaford and together they have four children and three grandchildren.
Doby, 77, who served on the board in the late 1970s and added a second term in the early 1990s, is looking to make her return this November.
“I would like to be a part of the team. I think we have a good board and good management,” she said.
Doby graduated from Landis High School and Queens College with a degree as a dental assistant. She is a retired business owner. Her children continue to run the family business, Doby’s Upholstery.
Doby said she doesn’t feel there are weighty issues facing the town. Residents are upset about losing railroad crossings in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s double track project, she said, but the closings aren’t something the town has control over.
“We have to live with changes and we must respect the people that make the changes,” she said.
China Grove and other towns from Raleigh to Charlotte will be impacted by the rail improvement project.
Doby is a member of First Baptist Church where she is a deacon, and is president of the Historical Society of China Grove.
Doby and her husband, the late Charles “C.W.” Doby, have five children — Gene, Yancey, Frankie, Bevie and Tobitha.
Linn said he’s been blessed in the last four years.
“I’ve been able to be an advocate for the citizens. I want to continue to grow and be a better councilman and thinking what I can do for China Grove,” he said.
He counts fellow councilmen Lee Withers and Steve Stroud as mentors who’ve taught him more about the inner workings of municipal government.
Linn said he understands being elected to office is a solo effort, but once on the board with fellow councilman — it becomes a partnership.
“I know the community votes us in to be a voice for them,” Linn said.
He said raising taxes two years in a row was a hard decision to make for all of the councilmen and one none wanted to make.
“But we had to just so we could keep our head above water. My goal is to keep the tax rate at 47 cents for the next four years,” Linn said.
He said understands there are a number of people on fixed incomes who struggle to pay property taxes.
Linn, like Seaford noted the board is in the process of developing a land-use plan to determine the future of China Grove. The plan will look at where the town should or could be in three to five years.
Linn said a school resource officer with the Landis Police Department. Linn is the council’s liaison to the China Grove Planning Board and serves on the South Rowan YMCA board. He is a graduate of South Rowan High School. He’s also received basic law enforcement training.
Linn and his wife, Hannah, have one daughter, Savannah.
Bivens, 64, said he’s been impressed with the accomplishments of the prior board and hopes to be a part of the future growth and development for China Grove.
In fact, Bivens said he feels as though future growth and the economy are important issues facing the town.
Bivens has served a total of 14 years with the town board and is looking to make his return.
He is the director of maintenance and facilities for Rowan-Salisbury School System. He’s served on the Historic Landmarks Commission, the China Grove Planning Board and the town zoning board, the China Grove Historic Society, the NC Public School Maintenance Association, Safe Schools Committee, as well as the China Grove Parks and Recreation Board.
Bivens and his wife, Shari have a daughter, Brie.
Upright, who is seeking his second, four-year term on the board, said the current board has momentum and he would like to continue to serve another four years. He did say, however, he believes terms have a limit and, if elected, this would be his final term.
“I appreciate their confidence and votes for another four years,” Upright said.
He said his top priority is making China Grove a more prosperous and better place to live.
“Working for the citizens of China Grove is a pleasure. I will strive to balance our grown and necessary improvements without raising taxes,” Upright said.
He said the most important issues facing China Grove is to control growth, which would include attracting new businesses to China Grove as well as downtown improvements. Upright said he wants to ensure the upcoming railroad crossing closings are handled in a manner that would not be detrimental to the town.
Upright is a broker with Kannapolis Real Estate Agency and the president of Upright Properties. He is a graduate of South Rowan High and attended Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. He has one daughter.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne/SalisburyPost.