Who will be the new face of Kannapolis?

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 1, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — As the cloud of the recession lifts, Kannapolis is poised to enter a new era. But who will lead the way?
None of the City Council members whose terms expire this year are seeking re-election. Darrell Hinnant is a mayoral candidate; Gene McCombs and Randy Cauthen are not running.
Then there’s the top of the ticket. Bob Misenheimer, mayor since 2005, is stepping aside. Who will be the next face of Kannapolis?
Voters have three choices:
• Darrell Hinnant, owner of dHinnant Business Solutions and a member of City Council for 12 years.
• Dennis Johnson, a veteran who has not sought public office before.
• Tom Kincaid, co-owner of Caremoor Retirement Center and a three-year member of the council.
All emphasize the economy, with some different twists.
Hinnant says the top issues in the race are “jobs, jobs, jobs, leadership.” As mayor, he says he would lead a team to recruit and expand industry to create 10,000 new jobs in the next four years.
“Downtown thrived when 19,000 jobs were just across the fence,” he says. “When the jobs went away, downtown shriveled. We must have new, liveable-wage jobs in Kannapolis to create the foot-traffic needed to support downtown retail.”
The majority of Cabarrus County commissioners voted recently not to extend incentives for a Windshear expansion. If that’s going to be the county board on incentives in general, the majority opinion is “short-sighted and intellectually/financially naive,” Hinnant says.
“Nobody likes incentives but it is a way of life in recruiting and expanding business in a community. My preferred incentives are infrastructure (roads, water/sewer, upfit). Many times infrastructure incentives can be expanded to support multiple companies and therefore the costs are spread over several companies.”
Kannapolis’ representative on the board for the Water and Sewer Authority of Cabarrus County, Hinnant has advocated a joint venture with Concord to establish a permanent source of water by running an 18-mile water line to High Rock Lake to reduce demand on the community’s natural resources
Hinnant, a Kannapolis resident since 1975, is a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and was executive director of the North Carolina Hazardous Waste Management Commission.
Fellow council members Roger Haas, Ryan Dayvault and Cauthen have endorsed Hinnant. Hinnant will be off the council if he doesn’t win the mayor’s race, since his term expires this year.
Johnson considers his candidacy a calling, much like his enlistment in the Army. He served from 1973 to 1980 as a track and wheel vehicle mechanic stationed in Enlargen, Germany, for four and a half years. He says he receives V.A. benefits for a service-connected injury.
Johnson says his top priority as mayor would be to grow the city’s tax base and promote Kannapolis as a work-ready location, he says. He lists other concerns as industrial and corporate development, the N.C. Research Campus, workforce development and maintenance/infrastructure.
Perhaps, he says, the city could convince David Murdock to sell some of the downtown property “so that business owners could begin again to … sell products and or services that people want and need.”
Johnson is upbeat about the city’s prospects.
“In the very near future Kannapolis will be a go-to place, full of activity with an attitude of let’s do business,” he says. The city may become such a popular destination that tax incentives would not be necessary. Incentives should be avoided, he says. “and free enterprise should be the standard without any compromising.”
He says the city needs more jobs, preferably paying $15-20 per hour as a start. “Five to eight companies employing 150 to 200 at various locations will be a grand start.”
Kincaid says he’s running to help bring fresh and new opportunities to the city, especially in the area of jobs and economic growth.
“I don’t think it’s right for any one person to claim he has the secret to bringing jobs, because anyone who has run a business knows you need a solid leadership team for that business to succeed,” Kincaid says.
To do that, he says, the city must keep its taxes low, support its schools and provide more opportunities for youth to find work and get involved.
“We’ve got excellent schools and excellent students,” Kincaid says. “They have shown time and again that they want to be a part of life in Kannapolis. If we want our city to have a future, we must support our youth.”
He predicts good things for the city in the next five years — completion of the new Municipal Center and Police Department Headquarters, growth of the N.C. Research Campus and, as a result, more dining, arts and entertainment offerings downtown.
The key, he says, is teamwork among business owners, citizens, elected officials who will be honest with one another. “We need to be factual about our goals and not promise anything that we can’t deliver. … I will work with all parties and value any suggestion that helps bring jobs to Kannapolis, but I will not make misleading claims. The future is what matters now, and my goal as mayor is to build a team to make our future stronger, and actually keep the promises that government makes to citizens.”
Ray Moss, former mayor, has endorsed Kincaid. If Kincaid does not win this race, he’ll still be on the council; his term expires in 2015.