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Withers, Seaford talk issues in China Grove mayor’s race

CHINA GROVE — The two candidates in the running for China Grove mayor — Lee Withers, the current mayor, and challenger Charles Seaford, an incumbent councilman — are just over a month away from election day.

The winning candidate will serve a four-year term. And Withers and Seaford spoke with the Post about their stance on a number of items.

Withers said his priorities for the upcoming race are parks and recreation, downtown revitalization and economic development.

Seaford said his top priority is maintaining the small town atmosphere of China Grove. Seaford said he also aims to maintain a high quality of service and promote industrial growth.

Charles Seaford

By accomplishing industrial growth, Seaford said, the town would have a good tax base. And in turn, Seaford said, the town could “relieve some taxes citizens are paying.”

“I’d like to see us get more of industrial industry in here to help relieve homeowners of the tax burdens that they have,” Seaford said.

Seaford added that welcoming new industries to China Grove that would bring in new jobs  and add to the population.

Seaford said he wants to see jobs that offer salaries ranging from $15 to $20 an hour. Seaford said he’ll to work with the Rowan County EDC to attract high-paying industries.

He said he wants to reinvigorate the town’s merchants association, too. It’s something that he said has “fallen by the wayside.”

Seaford said that his age and knowledge he has gained through 43 years of work at Duke Energy as well as volunteer work are things that distinguish him from his opponent.

“I am currently a member of the Bostian Heights Fire Department,” Seaford said. “Giving back to the community through fire service and rescue squad is definitely something that has set me apart from my opponent.”

Lee Withers

Withers said, if re-elected, he plans to continue working on providing groups and functions that enable youth engagement in town government.

He spoke about the Mayor’s Youth Council created last year, which involves Bostian and China Grove elementary schools as well as South Rowan and Carson high schools.

“It’s a great group of kids and it’s our future,” Withers said. “When I was elected four years ago, I had three key areas that I wanted to focus on — revitalization to the parks and recreation committee and department, downtown revitalization and the economic development committee I started,” Withers said. “It hadn’t met in a long time and the membership was not very active at all. I challenged myself and the board to energize ourselves around parks and recreation.”

He said attention on helping the central business corridor that is Main Street was a central aspect of his last campaign, too. It will be a focus if he’s re-elected, too. He’ll also be focused on improving the town’s south end.

And, in a year, Withers projected that the town will “break ground” on Exit 68, a reference to the reconstructed interchange between I-85 and N.C. 152.

“I would say that in the next five years, a passion of mine continues that we add industry and we add jobs. I’m not worried about adding homes. I’d like to see us increase our tax base by another $100-250 million and would like to see us add more jobs.” Withers said.

Withers said he’s the better candidate in the mayor’s race because of the time and effort he has put into the office of mayor, including working with county commissioners and the Rowan Economic Development Commission.

Council members

Unopposed, Steve Stroud and Rodney Phillips are running for China Grove Town Council.

Stroud said his top priority for town council will be continuing to provide services that he feels residents would want and are cost effective.

“We try to work with business owners as best we can. I will do everything I can to support and encourage business,” Stroud said.

Phillips said the town has to focus on bringing industry to Exit 68. Downtown revitalization and expanding and investing in the town’s parks must continue, too, he said.

“I am dedicated to work that has to be done,” he said. “I am a passionate fan of China Grove. I love being here and the people that are here.”

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