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Elect ’09: Faith town board candidates agree on major issues

By Kathy Chaffin
kchaffin@salisburypost.com
FAITH ó Five incumbents and one political newcomer are running for the five seats on this town’s Board of Aldermen.
Warren “Gary” Gardner, 63, of 422 W. 2nd St. is running for his 13th term on the board. Job Markas “Mark” Shores, 54, of 503 E. 2nd St. is running for his 10th. William “Bill” Melvin Johnson Jr., 50, of 1270 Balfour Quarry Road is running for his fourth term, and Wilbur “Todd” Peeler, 47, of 3011 School St. and James “Maxey” Sanderson, 64, of 119 S. Main St. are running for their third terms.
Harold “Keith” Deal, 54, of 3001 Gantt St. is making his first bid for political office. He has worked closely with the town board during his 30 years on the Faith Volunteer Fire Department, 20 of those as chief.
Faith does not have a separate election for mayor. Traditionally, the top vote-getter in the Board of Aldermen race serves as mayor for that term and the next highest vote-getter serves as mayor pro tem.
Johnson is presently serving as mayor and served one previous term in the position. Peeler is presently serving as mayor pro tem. Gardner has served two terms as mayor and previously served as mayor pro tem. Shores served one term as mayor and three terms as mayor pro tem.
As one might expect for a town as small and close knit as Faith, all six candidates know each other, and the incumbents seemed pleased to have Deal in the race.
“I like to see other people wanting to get more involved in the town,” Peeler said. “I think any of them would make a fine asset to the town. … Whoever gets it, I think the town will be pleased.”
Gardner said he would like to see 10 or 15 people running for the town board.
Candidates for the Faith Board of Aldermen seem to agree on the major issues. Their priorities are keeping the tax rate as low as possible, providing services the people need and want at the lowest possible cost and keeping Faith the way it is.
“Clearly, the best thing about Faith is its small-town atmosphere,” Shores said, “where almost everyone knows everyone and our strong sense of community, which includes our churches and our surrounding schools.”
Gardner said town residents are not all kin to each other like they used to be, “but everybody that moves in here becomes a part of our community. … People get along well, and we really don’t have too many problems.”
Johnson said the people of Faith care about each other and are active in the town’s churches, schools and community activities. “When there’s a need,” he said, “people pull together and help each other.”
Sanderson said almost every person in Faith shares the same common values. “There’s just a good moral sense of what’s right and wrong,” he said. “It’s very diverse, and by the same token, the commonality is the shared values.”
Peeler said Faith has managed to remain “a true small town even with some of the changes we’ve had over the past years.”
“It’s just one big family,” he said. “My kids were born and raised here, and I don’t see any of them ever wanting to leave.”
Deal said people still look after their neighbors in Faith, helping each other when they need it. Most of the townspeople are friends, he said, “and that means a whole lot for a town this size.”
All six candidates have been or continue to be involved in the community. Three ó Gardner, Sanderson and Shores ó attend church together at Shiloh Reformed Church. Johnson and Peeler are members at Faith Lutheran, and Deal is a member at Faith Baptist.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.

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