Feather, LaFevers and Costantino find no opposition in GQ municipal race

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mark Wineka

GRANITE QUARRY — You could say Mayor Bill Feather is making modern-day history in Granite Quarry, but he hasn’t thought of it in those terms.

“I was really hoping we’d have more candidates,” Feather said.

For the first time in most people’s memories this November, Granite Quarry voters will elect a mayor separately from other seats on the town board. When the summer filing period ended, Feather found himself as the only mayoral candidate.

One of the reasons he supported changing the electoral process to provide for a separate mayor’s race, Feather said, was the hope that more people would become involved in the elections, held every two years.

Likewise, Mayor Pro Tem Jim LaFevers, who along with newcomer Jim Costantino finds himself unopposed for the two open seats among aldermen, expected the electoral change to create more buzz.

“I wish we would have had more interest in people running for office,” LaFevers said. “That was kind of a disappointment.”

The Granite Quarry town board now has a mayor’s seat, up for election every two years, and four aldermen seats, which carry four-year terms. The seats as aldermen are staggered, so only two of the seats are contested every municipal election.

Aldermen Mike Brinkley and Arin Wilhelm are in the middle of their four-year terms.

Maybe the biggest surprise in this election season for Granite Quarry voters is that longtime board member Mary Ponds won’t be on the ballot. After 16 years on the board, including 14 as mayor, the popular Ponds decided not to run.

“I am very much going to miss her on the board,” Feather said, describing her as a mainstay. “I’ve supported her, and she has supported me. Everybody you know knows Mary Ponds.”

The Board of Aldermen previously elected a mayor and mayor pro tem among themselves at the board’s first meeting in December after the November elections. The city of Salisbury still chooses a mayor this way.

Feather’s colleagues on the board chose him as mayor two years ago, and he replaced Ponds, who kept her position as alderwoman.

Feather has been on the town board since 2003. LaFevers served as an alderman from 2001-2005, then was elected again in 2011.

In 1998, Costantino was appointed to serve out the one remaining year on the term for Richard Perkins, who resigned because he had moved to Salisbury. Costantino then ran for the seat in 1999 and was not elected.

Feather, 58, said he wants to move forward with the town’s downtown redevelopment efforts. The revitalization work, partnering with the county to open up new industrial land and extending water lines to serve a new subdivision off Faith Road represent some of the “several big projects on the horizon that will be beneficial to the town,” Feather said.

Meanwhile, town officials need to work on improving streets and parks, landing a grocery store and making more progress with the post office in separating Granite Quarry addresses from Salisbury ones.

Feather said some of the accomplishments in recent years have included a new drugstore, medical office and Family Dollar; improved railroad crossings; and the start of revitalization planning.

Feather is a commercial property consultant for his own business, Concord Consulting Associates.. He graduated from Wimber Area High School in Pennsylvania and attended the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He is a member of Wittenberg Lutheran Church.

LaFevers said the early efforts in downtown redevelopment have led to the establishment of a merchants association, and “a lot of those guys are pulling together,” he said.

This summer’s first Duck Derby at Granite Lake Park was a successful enterprise put together by the merchants, and it ended up providing money toward the town’s revitalization efforts, LaFevers noted.

LaFevers said he was proud of the board for being able to buy a new fire truck and two police cars without raising the tax rate. He said the town is doing well in recreation and maintenance, but the board still has things to work on to improve the tax base.

“We’ve just come a long way in working together and trying to move the town forward,” LaFevers said.

LaFevers is a member of the town’s Environmental Committee, whose oversight includes recycling, solid waste and the picking up of leaves and limbs.

One of the big items coming up for the committee will be soliciting bids for a new solid waste contract.

LaFevers is a retired construction manager and general contractor. He is a graduate of A.L. Brown High in Kannapolis and attended N.C. State University. He is a member of Stallings Memorial Baptist Church.

Costantino, 65, is the agent and owner for the Jim Costantino Insurance Agency, which is affiliated with Allstate Insurance. The business is located at the Brinkley Center.

“The one thing we need here is revitalization,” Costantino said of the central business district. He said a new plan is starting to unfold and expressed hope, that with good luck and strategy, it could happen faster.

“We have a lot of good things going on,” Costantino said. “… For the first time, Granite Quarry is on the verge of exploding. I think it’s time, and i want to be a part of it.”

Costantino mentioned the town’s slogan, “Granite Quarry Rocks.”

It’s a great town,” he said. “It does rock. We just got to get the word out. For the first time, people are realizing we have a lot of potential here. Let’s do it.”

Costantino has been with Allstate since 1987 and opened his office here in 1995. He graduated from high school in Virginia Beach, Va., and attended Rowan-Cabarrus Community College for two years. He had four years of training to earn his Life Underwriting Training Council certification.

Costantino is a member of Destination Hope Church. He and his wife, Brenda, who works with him, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Earlier this summer, Granite Quarry Town Manager Justin Price resigned after less than a year on the job.  Since then, Town Clerk Barbie Blackwell also has served as interim town manager, but Feather and LaFevers said the board intends to hire a replacement for Price.

LaFevers said the board is looking first at some of the candidates it had before Price’s hiring. “We felt good about Justin, but it just didn’t work out,” he said.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.