Trio of challengers file to run in Landis

Published 9:25 pm Monday, July 8, 2019

SALISBURY — Looking to bring “new, positive light” and “fresh faces” to Landis politics, Meredith Bare Smith filed Monday to run for mayor.

She was joined in filing Monday by Katie Sells, who’s running for the Board of Aldermen.

“We have to turn (Landis) around,” Smith said.

Smith is an office manager at Robert Bare Associates and also works at B&M Storage and Hair Reflections. Sells works for the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

They were two of 12 candidates who filed for office Monday, the second day for filing for the November municipal elections. On Friday, the first day, 11 candidates filed.

Smith and Sells said they have been working together for the upcoming elections by sharing similar objectives for the direction of Landis. They pushed themselves into the spotlight as financial mismanagement concerns arose in the southern Rowan County town and after a State Bureau of Investigation probe began into alleged embezzlement by the former manager and finance officer.

During an April town board meeting, Sells told Mayor Mike Mahaley that he was unfit for office after asking Mahaley for information about a civil lawsuit the town filed in March. At the same meeting, Smith said residents deserve an apology from officials who had ignored residents’ concerns.

And, in late April, Smith and Sells organized a town meeting where Landis residents voiced and discussed concerns.

“The people of Landis need to be heard; their opinions count just as much as those sitting on the board,” Sells said.

Smith said the two want to be a voice for Landis residents. Board members should go out and talk to their constituents, Smith said.

Smith asked for transparency and said people need to be “honest.”

Both Smith and Sells said they want to be approachable. Smith said a lot of people feel as if the town’s officials are unapproachable.

“We have to do the greater good for the entire town, not just what would make me happy (or the board happy),” Smith added.

“I just think that we need a change,” Smith said. “We need a new, positive light to reflect on the good things that we do have in Landis and turn some things around with fresh faces and new ideas.”

Smith said going forward, communication is key. If people notice a problem, people should blow the whistle, she said.

“We just have a lot of inside work going on (in Landis),” she said.

Smith declined to elaborate on what she meant by “inside work.”

Sells said she decided to run because it is time for the town board to have new faces.

“We have got to let the citizens trust us,” she said. “Landis is a dying town. We need to bring it back to life.”

“We have got be good stewards of the citizens’ money,” said Sells.

Smith said town officials need to follow guidelines.

“We have a lot of people who are willing to work for the community and do new and exciting things,” Smith said.

Asked about growth, Smith said the town should start looking at annexation, offering electric and water service to more people.

“The I-85 Interchange at Old Beatty Ford Road will be big Landis as far as bringing in traffic,” she said.

The is the first run for public office for both Smith and Sells.

Ashley Keith Stewart, who also filed for Landis Board of Aldermen on Monday, said he has spoken about the future of Landis with Smith and Sells and echoes some of their sentiment. Stewart said if elected, the three of them would “work well” together.

Stewart stressed the importance of transparency when asked about the SBI investigation. He said transparency should be objective and not situational.

Stewart said potential growth could embolden and solidify the town.

Stewart said he took an interest in public office because he is a history buff. He said he would be a good voice for residents by listening to and observing their opinions. He aims to provide service free from personal bias.

Stewart said he welcomes further dialogue so that Landis residents can learn who their candidates are.

In other candidate filings Monday:

• Incumbent Jim Costantino filed for Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen.

• Incumbent Ryan Dayvault filed for Kannapolis City Council.

• Chris Gordon filed for Kannapolis City Council.

• Phil Goodman filed for Kannapolis City Council.

• Patricia Jones “P.J.” Ricks filed for Salisbury City Council.

• Incumbent John Noble III filed for East Spencer Board of Aldermen.

• Shawn Rush filed for East Spencer Board of Aldermen.

• Alby Stamey filed for Landis mayor.

• Incumbent Karen Alexander filed for Salisbury City Council.

Potential candidates have until July 19 to decide to file and until July 16 to withdraw from a race.

To file for a municipal election, candidates must visit the Rowan County Board of Elections Office at West End Plaza. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Contact reporter Samuel Motley at 704-797-4264.