Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS — Alderman James Furr has put in a bid to run against incumbent Mayor Dennis Brown, whose first term will conclude this year.
Furr, 54, whose term isn’t set to expire until 2013, hopes to bring “focus” to the board, he said in a statement.
“I believe that citizens always deserve a choice in elections,” he said.
Furr went on to say he wants to focus on fiscal responsibility and accountability.
“The recent contracting of garbage services is a prime example of the lack of this focus currently,” Furr said.
During the budget process, Furr raised multiple issues with the town contracting its garbage services, including entering into a contract for more than two years. The board eventually approved its budget, which included the garbage services.
This is Furr’s first run for mayor. He has been an alderman since 2005.
The main reason Brown, 56, is running for re-election is to see current projects come to fruition, he said. Those include a water-sewer project and efforts to incorporate greenways and walking trails into the town.
“My main objective is to keep Landis the same great town it’s always been and add to it,” Brown said.
Brown credits new Parks Director Andrew Morgan with keeping the town on course with the recreation master plan it created in 2010.
Morgan worked on getting the Lake Corriher area, which for a long time hadn’t been used by the public, ready for visitors.
“The greenway is the real push,” Brown said.
“The master recreation plan gives us a good clear vision of what we want in the next 10 years,” he said.
Brown said the greenway and other outdoor recreation is a “quality of life issue.”
People want to be able to ride their bicycles and walk outdoors, he said, and, “I want us to be able to provide that to them.”
Aldermen Roger Safrit and Tony Hilton are seeking re-election.
Safrit, 59, would also like to see through projects started during his time in office.
“Over the past four years, this board has worked closely together. We’ve done things that will benefit the town in the future and I would like to see more projects done,” Safrit said.
Safrit agreed with Brown that Lake Corriher is a great completed project. He would also like to see a passive park completed and to see the Carolina Thread Trail make its way through Landis.
“I don’t make promises, but the only thing I can say is I will do the best I can to work with people involved in certain things to keep taxes down and services cost down,” Safrit said.
He said he’s learned a lot in four years. Safrit won a seat on the board after Dean Beck won election in 2008 then stepped down. Safrit finished just five votes behind Beck in the November 2007 election.
Hilton, 64, was first appointed to the board in 2002, also to fill a seat vacated by a member who stepped down. He said his priorities are to deliver the best and most efficient government services in Landis at the lowest cost.
He said aldermen didn’t have to increase property taxes to a “revenue neutral” rate after revaluations this year because they found cost savings.
“We saved $123,000 out of this year’s budget by contracting out garbage pickup to keep from raising taxes,” Hilton said in a statement.
He called the town’s recycling programs one of the “most efficient” in the county.
“We are continuing the needed upgrades to water and sewer systems, again without rasing taxes. We are also keeping water and sewer rates as low as possible,” Hilton said.
Those were all goals Hilton said he set out to accomplish while on the board.
Tony Corriher, who has served two previous terms as an alderman, is seeking a return to the board.
He said the board needs business-minded people serving, people who know “what it means to make it on your own” while paying taxes, and who can bring “prudent and fruitful ideas” for the future of Landis.
Safrit is the only self-employed board member, Corriher pointed out.
Hilton retired as the county risk manager.
“They don’t own a business or know abut paying taxes and what it costs to operate a business,” Corriher said.
For years, there has been talk of merging services, but Corriher doesn’t support that, saying no cost savings has been proven.
“There’s no benefit. We need to look after our own affairs,” he said.
He said town officials “need to get back to the basics.”
Corriher, like Furr, opposed doing away with the old garbage system.
“I’d be for going back to what we had. I didn’t have any problem with it,” he said.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

Meet the Landis candidates:

Name: Dennis Brown

Office sought: Mayor
Age: 56
Address: 315 N. Main St.
Phone: 980-521-1433
Occupation, employer: Captain, Kannapolis Fire Department
Educational background: Graduated from University of North Carolina-Charlotte with an economics degree. Received numerous fire certifications
Previous elected office: Current mayor, alderman from 1992-2002, two years as mayor pro tem
Community involvement: none listed
Family: Wife, Karen; children — Travis, Katie and Tyler

Name: James Furr

Office sought: Mayor
Age: 54
Address: 1102 S. Highland Ave.
Phone: 704-490-8989
Occupation, employer: Assistant Register of Deeds, Rowan County
Educational background: South Rowan High, Central Piedmont Community College, multiple technical, management and leadership training programs. Former airline pilot
Previous elected office: Current alderman
Community involvement: Member of First Reformed Church, Landis
Family: Son Rodney, daughter-in-law Ashley and grandson Curtis

Name: Tony Corriher

Office sought: Alderman
Age: 65
Address: 103 West Limits St.
Phone: 704-202-5069
Occupation, employer: Landis Plumbing Supply, sales
Educational background: South Rowan High School and Mitchell Junior College
Previous elected office: Alderman
Community involvement: Retired Landis Fire Department, attends Landis Baptist Church
Family: Wife, Kathy and two sons Jonathan and Joshua

Name: H.A. “Tony” Hilton

Office sought: Alderman
Age: 64
Address: 1930 S. Main St., China Grove
Phone: 704-857-6150
Occupation, employer: Retired, former county risk manager
Educational background: South Rowan Senior High, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Pepperdine University, University of Oklahoma, graduate school
Previous elected office: Alderman
Community involvement: Member, Trinity Lutheran Church; past chairman, Trinity Lutheran Church council; past chairman church finance committee; past master Eureka Masonic Lodge; Oasis Shrine Temple; Rowan Shrine Club; vice chairman Cabarrus-Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization; member Local Emergency Planning Committee; American Legion Post 185; Leadership Rowan Graduate; Regional Transportation Planning Policy group member
Family: Wife Christine, son, Christian, daughter, Emily, son-in-law, Thad, and two granddaughters

Name: Roger Safrit

Office sought: Alderman
Age: 59
Address: 619 N. Main St.
Phone: 704-223-3513
Occupation, employer: Self-employed; blacksmith, master knife maker and woodworker
Educational background: Rowan County schools, U.S. Navy
Previous elected office: Current alderman
Community involvement: Community watch and involved with Landis Parks and Recreation Department
Family: Father Guy Safrit, twins Diana and Shane