Kannapolis elects Hinnant as new mayor

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

KANNAPOLIS — The election behind him now, Mayor-elect Darrell Hinnant is ready to start pulling his team together to work toward a goal that caused a lot of buzz in Kannapolis this election season: finding 10,000 new jobs.
“I’m excited,” Hinnant said late Tuesday night. “I’m humbled by the confidence people have entrusted to me.”
He’s ready, he said, to help Kannapolis move to the next level.
Hinnant, 66, president of dHinnant Business Solutions, defeated fellow council member Tom Kincaid and political newcomer Dennis Johnson. Hinnant will succeed longtime Mayor Bob Misenheimer, who did not seek re-election.
The vote tally was Hinnant 1,629 or 52.57 percent; Kincaid, 1,168 or 37.69 percent; and Johnson 299, or 9.65 percent.
Voters selected three new members for City Council: Doug Wilson, Darrell Jackson and Dianne Berry.
The council will also include Kincaid, who has two years left in his council term.
The final vote for council went like this: Wilson, 1,426; Jackson, 1,256; Berry, 1,139; William Cranford, 1,105; Amos McClorey, 1,011; Nina Covington, 903; Thomas Van Etters, 650; Jeremy Ford, 637.
French Press Coffee off Cannon Boulevard hummed with conversation Tuesday night as Kincaid, Jackson, Berry, McClorey, Covington and their supporters crowded in to await election results.
Kincaid, 61, co-owner of Caremoor Retirement Center, said he’ll have no trouble serving with his mayoral-race rival.
“I have the utmost respect for Darrell,” Kincaid said around 9 p.m. as returns pointed to a Hinnant victory.
If Hinnant can really bring 10,000 jobs to Kannapolis, Kincaid said he’s all for it, but he questioned whether that was really possible. People desperate for jobs voted for Hinnant because of that figure, he said.
“I spent 24 years building my business. I won’t promise anything I know I can’t keep,” Kincaid said.
Across town, Hinnant said it was wrong to consider the 10,000-job goal ludicrous.
“I’m going to create a team of many stakeholders,” Hinnant said as he watched election results come in with friends and family at the Old Cabarrus Bank Building downtown.
He said a recent presentation here by a representative of the Charleston (S.C.) Regional Development Alliance proved that such things were possible. Charleston has recouped thousands of jobs in recent years by going after them with a very focused effort involving 30 to 40 companies and businesses with an interest in the community’s future, the Charleston executive told a Cabarrus group.
“I want to put that same kind of organization together here,” Hinnant said. “… It’s not rocket science.”
Hinnant and his crew watched results creep in on the Cabarrus County Board of Elections website. By 10 p.m., four precincts were still out, including two crucial ones. Hinnant and his son, Darrell Jr., finally went to the Board of Elections to get the final tally shortly before 11.
“I feel great,” Hinnant said after that. “I’m excited.”
Darrell Jackson, the second-highest vote-getter in the council race, said Kincaid actually recruited him to run, but he’ll have no trouble working with Hinnant.
“I got respect for Darrell,” Jackson said. “That won’t be a problem at all. It’s not ‘I.’ It’s ‘we.’ We need to be a team.”
Jackson, 60, owns Lee Clothing Warehouse in Kannapolis and Dan’elle Clothing Warehouse in Concord, and says that after 27 years the city finally seems to have some momentum going. He’s also president-elect of Downtown Kannapolis Inc., which is partnering on a demographic study that should help the city recruit local and national businesses.
“I feel like this is my opportunity to give something back,” Jackson said.
Dianne Berry, 59, who finished third in the council race, is a clerk to the Cabarrus Board of Health. “I’m very proud that the voters supported me,” she said.
The leading vote-getter for council, Wilson, was busy picking up signs Tuesday evening. The 63-year-old is general manager and senior vice president for Publicom, which sells automatic health screening equipment.
Last week as the election approached, Wilson said the new council would have a lot of work to do. “It’s going to be important that, when the smoke clears, whoever is mayor and whoever is on council work really hard together … for the sake of the people,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to become a team real quick.”
Wilson, Jackson and Berry will take seats that were held by Hinnant and two council members who did not seek re-election, Randy Cauthen and Gene McCombs.
Even in losing, some candidates found a silver lining. McClorey said he appreciated the support of those who voted for him and wished the winners the best. And Covington said, “It’s been a good experience.”