Cleveland finances emerge as election isssue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
CLEVELAND — Mayor John Steele is running unopposed for re-election, but two of his fellow Board of Commissioners members have some competition.
Newcomers Richard Taylor and Leonard West will take on incumbents John Bradford and Mary Frank Fleming-Adkins for two seats on the board.
Several of the candidates said the town’s finances are a top priority.
Cleveland has maintained a fund balance of more than $2.7 million throughout the past five years. Last fiscal year, the fund balance was $3 million, or 316 percent of general fund expenditures.
The town increased the property tax rate from 21 cents per $100 assessed value to 25 cents this year in order to remain revenue neutral after the Rowan County revaluation process. However, it still boasts the lowest property taxes rate in Rowan County.
West, 60, said he’s a believer in smaller government.
“I think government continues to grow and grow, and it’s just not sustainable,” he said. “I just don’t see anybody making an effort to cut back or reduce spending, just because you have the money doesn’t mean you have to spend it.”
Bradford, 56, said he thinks the town is in good shape and wants to continue the work he’s done on the board for the past decade.
“I want to strengthen the infrastructure as much as possible so that it will be good for many years to come,” he said.
Steele, 68, said he also wants to see the town maintain financial stability.
“We’ve had to be very careful with our finances,” he said. “Hopefully we can continue to make improvement in the infrastructure.”
Steele said he would also like to see the town have an infusion of economic development.
“I hope that Cleveland can have controlled growth,” he said. “We want to make progress, but take into consideration the history of the town and the needs of the people.”
West said he’s running for the board because he thinks it’s time for some changes.
“I think it’s too much of the same old, same old,” he said. “They do everything the way it’s been done before; there is a need for some change, but not major change.”
But Taylor, 53, is taking a different approach.
“I think the present Cleveland commissioners are doing a great job. I would just like to be able to help,” he said.
Steele said he hopes residents will turn out at the polls on Election Day.
“It doesn’t matter who they vote for, I just think it’s important to vote,” he said. “I encourage them to do that.”
Fleming-Adkins could not be reached for comment for this story.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

Name: Mary Frank Fleming-Adkins.
Office sought: Commissioner.
Age: Not provided.
Address: 211 Maple St., Cleveland.
Phone number: 704-278-2286.
Occupation: Not provided.
Education: Not provided.    
Previous elected office: Current town commissioner.
Community involvement: Not provided.
Family: Not provided.
Name: Richard L. Taylor.
Office sought: Commissioner.
Age: 53.
Address: 207 Third Creek Church Road, Cleveland.
Phone number: 704-278-4329.
Occupation: Furniture and cabinetmaking instructor at West Rowan High School.
Education: Associate degree in law enforcement from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Bachelor in Sociology, associate degree in carpentry and construction from Rowan-Cabarrus, N.C. teacher certification in trade and industry, drafting/design and technology education.
Previous elected office: None.
Community involvement: Third Creek Presbyterian Church.
Family: Wife, Julie. Daughter Judith Wherrett.
Name: John Bradford.
Office sought: Commissioner.
Age: 56.
Address: 414 W. Main St., Cleveland.
Phone number: 704-214-2976.
Occupation: Self-employed contractor.
Education: West Rowan graduate, Catawba College.
Previous elected office: Currently serving as town commissioner.
Community involvement: Cleveland United Methodist Church .
Family: Wife, Debra Jacobs.
Name: Leonard M. West.
Office sought: Commissioner.
Age: 60.
Address: 11110 Statesville Blvd., Cleveland.
Phone number: 704-6356-1600.
Occupation: Meter tester at Hersey Meters.
Education: West Rowan High School graduate, United State Military Academy at West Point graduate.
Previous elected office: None.
Community involvement: Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Lions Club.
Family: Wife, Tessie. Two step-children.
Name: John Steele.
Office sought: Mayor
Age: 68.
Address: 204 Maple St.
Phone number: 704-278-3855.
Occupation: Private social work consultant, retired U.S. Air Force.
Education: West Rowan High School graduate, bachelor’s in sociology from Maryville College, master’s in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University, doctorate of social work from the National Catholic University of America.
Previous elected office: Currently serving first term as mayor, eight terms as a town commissioner.
Community involvement: Third Creek Presbyterian Church.
Family: Joy Steele, wife; three sons, John, Walter, Alan; two daughters Lydia Richmond and Jolaine Blackenship.