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New era takes root in Granite Quarry with swearing in of Cress, Linker

GRANITE QUARRY — Things got off to a rocky start Monday night for a new Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen as members immediately faced a 2-2 stalemate on who should be mayor pro tem.

In the end, newly elected Alderman John Linker smoothed things over by stepping back and instead of voting for himself cast his vote for Jim LaFevers, who then was chosen mayor pro tem by a 3-1 vote.

Otherwise, Linker said, the board could have been at an impasse all night.

Monday’s town board meeting started with the swearing in of Linker and Kim Cress as new aldermen, along with Bill Feather as mayor. Linker and Cress unseated Aldermen Mike Brinkley and Arin Wilhelm in the November election.

Feather was re-elected, though he had a close call with a write-in effort waged on behalf of former Mayor Mary Ponds.

After Feather, Linker and Cress were sworn in by Rowan County Clerk of Court Jeff Barger, it was up to Linker, Cress, LaFevers and Jim Costantino to decide among themselves who should be mayor pro tem.

Cress nominated Linker, Costantino nominated LaFevers, and the first vote — Feather was not allowed to break a tie —  went 2-2. Cress said people he had talked to during and after the election wanted change, “and that’s what I’m here for.”

He pointed to Linker’s past experience as an alderman and mayor in Granite Quarry and his service on the zoning board. Linker said he would not have a lot of learning or catching up to do given his track record.

“I feel like I’m very qualified to do it,” Linker said of the mayor pro tem job.

But LaFevers also referred to his 12 years of experience on the town board and made his pitch for the position. “I think I’m familiar with all we have going and the format we have done,” he said.

Costantino said both guys were qualified.

“I think either one would do a great job,” he said, but he voted for LaFevers a second time, as did LaFevers. Cress voted again for Linker, who faced making it 2-2 again with a vote for himself.

“I’ll cast my vote for Jim LaFevers,” he said.

During a public-comment period later, Ponds congratulated the new board members and said thanks should go to Brinkley and Wilhelm for their service to the town.

Ponds also thanked the residents of Granite Quarry and the “impact, tenacity and willingness” they showed. She said “an awful lot went on” in the last election, but she told the board members she is in full support of them and is willing to serve the town if called on.

“I’m just a phone call away,” she said. “… I want us to work together as a team.”

But before Ponds returned to her seat, she said there was something wrong with the new board.

“We’re going to work to get some women on that board,” she said.

Also sworn in to their positions Monday night were Town Manager Phil Conrad, Town Clerk Tanya Maria Word and Town Attorney Graham Corriher.

When the time came for Feather to talk about forming a “Mayor’s Advisory Board,” which he said would try to seek recommendations and comments from residents that he could bring back and share with the aldermen, he added, “Mary, I would like to put your name at the top of that list.”

Linker and Cress had questions about the advisory board. Both emphasized that it would have to be transparent and conduct its business in public. Linker said its meeting times should be published and it should be accessible to everyone.

Cress and Linker also questioned whether it would be considered a board or committee.

LaFevers said he welcomes any change that will increase communications with the public. If this committee and others are flooded with people wanting to serve the town, “we’ll be extremely happy,” he said.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263. Read Wednesday’s edition for more on the Granite Quarry meeting.

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