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China Grove incumbents unchallenged; Stroud calls out mayor

By Samuel Motley
samuel.motley@salisburypost.com 

SALISBURY — Incumbent Town Council members Rodney Phillips and Steve Stroud will go into the China Grove election unchallenged this fall.

With two seats open on the Town Council and only Stroud and Phillips filing to run, each is set to retrain a seat without competition.

Both candidates have years of experience on the council. Stroud is running for his fifth term. Phillips was a councilman for two years in the 1980s and is currently on the council.

Phillips has also been a member of town’s planning and zoning boards.

The two are pushing similar platforms, too.

As Phillips put it, Stroud and he agree 85% of the time on the direction the town should take. Some recent council decisions they agree on include reducing the tax rate to a revenue-neutral level this year, a focus on improving the parks system and efforts to recruit restaurants.

Still, some differences are noticeable when the candidates were asked about their platforms.

Stroud was more vocal about Mayor Lee Withers, saying “the only problem is our mayor” when speaking about growth and what defines him as a candidate.

Stroud said Withers is too focused on the wrong type of growth and wants to spend too much of taxpayers’ money. The council recognizes that growth is important for the town, he said, but he said he’s focused on industrial and commercial growth, not residential.

Residential growth will not bring the return that industrial growth will, he said.

The town does not need a housing development with houses 10 feet apart, he said.

Stroud said he wants the town to hold on to its small-town atmosphere.

Stroud said he is explicitly against borrowing money to finance projects “just because” it can.

He said the town should seek to build a tax base that can pay for needs like paving roads. This cannot be accomplished with the town’s current tax base, he said.

Phillips said being a part of what’s going on in China Grove right now is pretty exciting.

“There’s no better place to be in Rowan County right now than southern Rowan and China Grove,” Phillips said. “I want to make China Grove the place in Rowan” for people to come to dine, live, work, shop and worship.

To further that goal, Phillips wants to consider the possible redesign of buildings at the southern end of town. A lot of buildings are vacant, and they could be used as storefronts for artists or craftsmen, he said.

The new Interstate 85 interchange is great for bringing new people into town, Phillips said.

Phillips also highlighted his efforts to partner with the Rowan County Economic Development Commission. The aim has been to lay the groundwork for projects in China Grove over the next several years, he said.

“I just love China Grove and want people here to come and enjoy it,” he said.

Phillips is a Catawba College graduate and works for Mariner, a software company. He attended North Stanly High School.

Stroud is a graduate of Ragsdale High School. He is an auxiliary police officer in Cleveland and a locksmith.

Both Phillips and Stroud said the fact they are unchallenged illustrates people are satisfied with their success.

Contact reporter Samuel Motley at 704-797-4264. 

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