Make Granite Quarry’s mayor’s job a four year-term? Current mayor is not so sure

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 6, 2017

By Mark Wineka

GRANITE QUARRY — The Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen has been discussing the idea of changing the town charter so mayoral terms are four years long, not two.

But there’s at least one town official not sold on the idea — the mayor himself.

Mayor Bill Feather turned over his gavel to Mayor Pro Tem Mike Brinkley during Monday night’s town board meeting. Feather then left his chair, walked to a podium and spoke during a public hearing about his reservations to changing the mayoral term.

Feather made town history in the 2015 election when he was elected as the town’s first mayor — for a two-year term.

Prior to 2015, town board members chose a mayor among themselves at their first December meeting after every November municipal election, which occurs every two years. The board changed the town charter before the 2015 election to allow for a separate mayoral contest, and Feather won.

Feather listed “a few things for thought” about a four-year mayoral term.

He said it could make it unfair for sitting board members who want to run for mayor. The four aldermen — aldermen serve four-year terms — are elected in staggered elections. That is, two aldermen are chosen in one election, while the two other positions are decided in the next election.

Feather said if an alderman wanted to run for mayor the same year his seat was up for election, he would be in danger of not being on the board at all should he lose the mayoral contest.

With the two-year term of mayor, an alderman whose seat still had two years remaining could run for mayor, lose, but still have a seat on the board, helping with continuity, Feather suggested.

In addition, Feather said in prepared remarks, “the mayor is responsible to the citizens of Granite Quarry to do a good job. If the mayor is not being productive, then four years is a long time.”

Feather said every mayor would like to have a longer term to accomplish his or her goals, “but if the mayor is doing what the people want, then (he or she) should have no problem getting re-elected.”

Also during the public hearing, two other residents weighed in with their reservations about a four-year mayoral term.

Doug Shelton, chairman of the Granite Quarry Revitalization Team, said he had no particular objection to the proposal, “but we haven’t been on this cycle (of two years) long.”

He suggested the town go through a few more elections and “see how it works out.”

Ed Shell said he agreed with things said by both Feather and Shelton. “I think this is premature to make this kind of change,” he said.

The town board, which was missing Aldermen Jim LaFevers and Jim Costantino on Monday night, had no discussion after the public hearing.

In other business, the board approved the design of a new logo for Granite Quarry. The new logo comes to the town from the Revitalization Team, and Shelton said it is something to build on the branding of Granite Quarry.

He added it was “something we can use to sell the town.”

Shelton noted the logo went “through several iterations” before the final one was selected. It is not meant to replace the town seal. Shelton said it was “a simple logo to sell our messages,” and most important, its design did not cost anything.

The logo incorporates the words “Be an Original,” which is the slogan of Rowan County’s branding effort.

Brinkley said the logo had been discussed long enough, and “the basic design, I think, is fine.”

Both Feather and Brinkley said the final colors in the logo could be modified.

Town Manager Phil Conrad said having the logo approved allows the town’s new website design to move forward. A redesign of the website could be finished in about two months or earlier, Conrad estimated.

On another matter, the board approved a resolution authorizing Conrad to do whatever work is necessary to have the name of Granite Street changed to “Mayor Ponds Street.”

The name change would honor former Granite Quarry Mayor Mary Ponds.

The resolution noted Ponds’ dedicated service to the town, its growth and development and her strong support for the recruitment of businesses such as Novant Health/Granite Quarry Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and a branch of the State Employees’ Credit Union.

Ponds was “the first female and the first ethnic minority resident to hold the position of mayor of the town of Granite Quarry,” the resolution said.

Before the street name can be changed, Conrad will have to notify the state Department of Transportation, the U.S. Postal Service, and businesses and residents who would be affected.

In other reports, Conrad listed 14 intersections in Granite Quarry that have been improved with the addition of ramps, making sidewalks more accessible.

The DOT and the town’s maintenance department combined to provide a total of 34 ramps.

The intersections addressed include Main Street and Stonewyck Drive; West Bank Street, Crook Street and West Peeler Avenue; West Bank and North and South Walnut streets; North and South Oak streets; West Peeler Street and North Walnut Street and North Oak Street; Salisbury Avenue and Kern Street; East Bank Street, East Lyerly Street, Depot Street and Troutman Street; and Dunn’s Mountain Road and White Rock Avenue.

In other business Monday, the town board:

• Met in closed session to discuss the hiring of a new town clerk. Barbie Blackwell left the position in May for a new job.

• Heard from Alderman Arin Wilhelm that the Granite Quarry Athletic Club had a successful lacrosse clinic Saturday with 21 youth participating. Parents expressed the desire for a summer lacrosse league, Wilhelm said, and the club hopes to initiate an adult soccer league in coming weeks.

• Set a public hearing on as proposed 2017-18 town budget for June 27.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.