All five seats up in Faith election
FAITH — With all five seats up for election on the Board of Aldermen and only three incumbents seeking a return, the town will have some new leaders after Tuesday.
Four challengers are hoping they’ve convinced voters to select them.
But it took a little longer than normal to garner that much interest.
In a repeat of 2011, the Rowan County Board of Elections had to extend the filing deadline for Faith this year because only four candidates signed up to run for the five two-year terms. Ultimately, in both years, seven people filed for those seats.
This year’s crop of candidates includes incumbents Keith Deal, Gary Gardner and Mayor Todd Peeler along with challengers Brian Campbell, Michael Hibler, Matt Lyerly and C.J. Moody.
The mayor is appointed from among the board members.
Here, in alphabetical order, is what the candidates had to say about the challenges and opportunities facing Faith and their priorities if elected. Gardner could not be reached for this article.
Campbell said he wants a seat on the board so he can “work with the others that are elected and do what needs to be done to improve the town and keep it a safe little town.”
“I like the little town environment, and I want to keep it that way,” he said. “We don’t want any growth, because we’re a small town and we want to stay small and friendly.”
Campbell said if elected, he’d work on improving some of the town’s roads.
“We need to work with the state to get our roads repaired,” he said. “We’ve got some narrow roads, and school buses go down them.”
Campbell said his faith would guide him as an alderman.
“I’m a Christian, and I believe in doing things right, helping people out when they need help,” he said. “I’m all for doing the right thing, not just because for my glory, but to glorify the Lord, too.”
Deal, a former mayor, said he’d like a third term to continue what the town board has started. For one thing, he wants to help the town continue towards self-reliance in public works.
Over the past couple of years, Faith has been building a public works department, with a director and equipment to perform services it used to contract out. Deal wants to see that expand.
“I think if I got back on the board, I would push to get things better for public works and the equipment they need,” he said.
He’d also “take care of citizens and spending money wisely,” Deal said.
“People don’t have money now to spend, and we don’t want to go up on taxes if we don’t have to,” he said.
Deal said the town budget “in the next few years is going to be tight.”
“I think one way we can probably overcome that is we don’t spend the money unless we really need something, for an emergency or something, because we can’t spend money like bigger towns,” he said.
Along with public works and Faith’s financial health, Deal said his priorities would include generating more interest in the town’s volunteer fire department.
And, he said, he would continue to be open-minded in doing the town’s business.
“I am openly willing to discuss anything that anyone wants to bring before the board,” he said. “Whatever comes up in a board meeting, I try to make the best decision we can make for the town.”
Hibler said he’d like to establish better communication between the town board and the residents of Faith.
He’d do that by encouraging more people to come to town board meetings, visiting organizations to update them on town business, and, possibly, holding public forums to inform residents.
Hibler said he’d also “work to keep everything inside the town budget so that we don’t go broke, which is sometimes tough with the way the economy is going and the way the government keeps changing things.”
Government grants may be one way to upgrade the town’s facilities and equipment without spending local tax dollars, he said.
“I think that the grants are there,” he said. “We just have to go out and research them and see which ones we can use to benefit the town.”
If elected, Hibler said, one of his priorities would be to “remember that I work for them, and I’m there to be their voice instead of the other way around.”
“I’m active in the community. I’ve been on the planning board, and I want to give something back to the community,” he said. “It’s a new voice that hasn’t been on the board before, so I think I have something to give back to them.”
Dr. Matt Lyerly
Lyerly the town’s budget is his biggest concern.
“The biggest way we can help is where we can find new revenue streams without having to … increase fees for services and things like that,” he said.
“We just have to sit down and look and see if we can … save as much money as possible with everybody cutting back their government spending.”
He also wants to help small business owners who set up shop along Faith Road.
“It’s not as heavily trafficked as 52, but it’s still a quaint community that gets a lot of traffic,” he said, “and if there are roadblocks for small business owners there, maybe we can help them.”
Also among his priorities is “keeping open communication lines” between the town board and the committee that oversee Faith’s famous Fourth of July festivities.
Lyerly said Faith residents should vote for him “mainly because I was born and raised three miles down the road and have been — except when I left for education — have lived here all my life, been to the Fourth of July festival all my life, whatever they do, the different festivals in the park.”
And, he said, “I would have everyone’s best interests in the area in mind.”
Moody said his main objective is “making sure the money’s being spent well … that it goes where it needs to go.”
“I’m just not really sure what the money’s being spent on right now,” he said. “Times being like they are still, we just need to make sure that we’re spending our money the best way we can.”
Moody said he’d like to help generate more support for local businesses in Faith and more community interest “as far as keeping Faith looking good, showing up for events we put on.”
He said he wants to make sure the needs of emergency services agencies are being met and wants to hear the concerns of residents.
“I don’t know people’s concerns, what they’d like to see done,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s being met.”
Moody said he wants “to continue to keep Faith a hometown place and keep the community together … and just continue to see it stay clean and a friendly environment for visitors.”
“I would encourage people to vote for me because I grew up in Faith,” he said. “I want to continue to help Faith be the biggest small town in the world.”
Peeler, who is currently the mayor of Faith, is seeking his fifth term on the board. He said one of the bigger challenges facing the town is how to balance maintaining its property tax rate with the limited potential for growth.
“I think we have to be creative … with how we manage our budget, with where our money is going to now,” he said. “We have to stop unnecessary spending.”
The board has done that, he said, by bringing public works in-house and making other moves “that have taken a lot of the financial burden off the town. … We’re more self-sufficient and self-reliant and we don’t have to depend on others.”
Peeler describes Faith as “one big community, one big family” with three churches, civic groups and merchants who are the “backbone of our town” and need its support.
Among his priorities if re-elected, he said, would be “to continue to listen to the public and try to meet those needs and … at least try to keep the town where we are.”
Peeler said he deserves re-election because of his record of working hard for Faith.
“I think you have to be open to anything, but realize not every decision is going to be a positive reaction,” he said. But the end result will be positive “as long as you have the town’s well being and all the facts and figures in place, as long as you have the town’s best interests at heart.”