Feather takes most votes in Granite Quarry

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

By Mark Wineka
GRANITE QUARRY — Incumbents Bill Feather and Mary Ponds and challenger Jim LaFevers grabbed the three seats up for election Tuesday in Granite Quarry.
Feather, the present mayor pro tem, led the election’s nine candidates with 164 votes, followed by Ponds, 160; and LaFevers, 124. They will join Brad Kluttz and Eloise Peeler, whose seats were not up for election this year.
LaFevers unseated incumbent Jake Fisher, who finished with 110 votes. LaFevers knows town government. He served a previous term as alderman from 2001-2005.
The winners will be on the town board for the next four years. The mayor’s position pays $2,000 a year; alderman’s, $1,400.
The town board will choose a mayor among its five members at the Dec. 5 meeting. Feather, first elected as an alderman in 2003, said he is interested in the mayor’s position, which Ponds has held for the past 12 years.
“Whatever way it works out, we work well together,” Feather said of Ponds and himself. “I guess it’s good for the town either way.”
Ponds found herself in unfamiliar territory Tuesday because, for the first time, she did not lead the voting.
“However the Lord gives it, that’s how you take it,” Ponds said. “It’s what the people want.”
The veteran candidates, such as Feather and Ponds, were enthused with the turnout, even though it was only 16.5 percent. Of 1,966 eligible voters, 324 participated in the Granite Quarry election.
Other vote totals Tuesday were Robert Anderson, 92; Mike Brinkley, 90; Kim Fraley, 81; Baxter “Buddy” Miller, 42; and Robert “Danny” Gay, 16.
Fraley had waged a write-in campaign.
LaFevers campaigned all day Tuesday at the town’s polling location — the municipal building at 143 N. Salisbury Ave. During the election, he also sent out 600 personal letters and made 200 telephone calls to voters Monday.
“I feel pleased,” said LaFevers, a retired construction manager. “We worked hard and met a lot of new people.”
Fisher had been an alderman since 1999. And a couple decades before that, he had served three more terms.
Fraley was not on the regular ballot because she missed the deadline, thinking she had until 5 p.m., not noon, on the final day for filing. Fraley said Tuesday night she won’t make that mistake again and acknowledged she will probably run for the town board in two years.
She said her write-in showing impressed her, given that “I didn’t work hard.”
“I didn’t want people to think I was going overboard with them.”
Fraley was a bit disappointed with Tuesday’s results.
“I was really hoping there would be more change,” she said.
Key issues in the election among many of the candidates were the need for business development, better enforcement of town codes, more attention to the town’s appearance, getting more out of recycling and planning for the future.
Incumbents also carried some baggage this time, having approved a property tax increase of 7 cents per $100 valuation in June. The town now has a tax rate of 40 cents per $100 valuation, which is still one of the lower municipal rates in the county.
“I think it will be a fine board,” said the 54-year-old Feather, a consultant and former owner of Kori Investments of Salisbury and onetime district sales manager with Carolina Building Solutions.
“Elections are tough. I’m sure we will have people who are disappointed.”
Feather was surprised to lead the ticket.
“I think I’ve always come in third in the past,” he said. “I appreciate the support of the people, that’s for sure.”
Ponds, a retired educator who still works as a mentor and in teacher support for the Rowan-Salisbury School System, said she is appreciative of the confidence citizens have in the town board, whose members will always put Granite Quarry first.
Ponds has been a visible municipal official and holds positions with numerous community organizations and institutions.
Anderson, making his first bid ever for public office, said it was a good experience.
“I worked for the town for 10 years, and I wanted to try it,” added Anderson, a former town maintenance employee. He was at the polling location all day Tuesday.
“I’m not disappointed,” Anderson said. “I thought I did real good for a first time.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.