Cowan wins in East Spencer
By Lee Barnes
EAST SPENCER ó After eight years, East Spencer has a new mayor.
John Cowan, 40, was elected Tuesday to replace four-term Mayor Erma Jefferies, who did not run this year.
Cowan beat Alderwoman Barbara Mallett, 62, who leaves the board.
Cowan won by a vote of 173 to 128, or 57 percent.
In the alderman race, voters chose incumbent Phronice Johnson, 57, and newcomers Rosa Burris, 53, and Tammy Corpening, 44. Their vote totals were 191, 187 and 154, respectively.
Veteran Alderman John Rustin, 84, finished last among all candidates, with 123 votes. Titus King, 44, also finished out of the running with 133 votes.
Rustin had served on the board since 2001. He was the town’s mayor in 1990-91.
About 300 people voted in the election.
Recent times have been tough for the town, which is under 2 square miles and has a population of about 1,800. The town’s main corridor, Long Street, is lined in part with vacant houses. Perhaps the key issue in this year’s races was the town’s water bills, which the candidates said are too high.
During the campaign, Cowan said his No. 1 priority if elected would be to determine why residents’ water bills are so high. He also said the town needed to attract more businesses.
Cowan serves on the town’s planning board and board of adjustment and represents the town on the Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization. He’s a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Mallett was the town’s clerk and finance officer for 20 years before running for alderman in 2005. The Shaw University graduate chairs the East Spencer Housing Development Corp. and serves on the Rowan County Nursing Home Advisory Board.
Incumbent Johnson has served on the board for eight years.
Burris moved to East Spencer from Charlotte last year and works for Wachovia.
Corpening ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2007. She serves on two local boards and chaired the East Spencer Community Watch program.
The new board members join Aldermen Carlton Ellis, Theodore Gladden and John Noble III, who are up for reelection in 2011.