Landis mayor, aldermen candidates ready to face challenges
LANDIS — This small, southern Rowan had several challenges come their way this year, but five mayoral candidates and three aldermen candidates are up to the task of bringing a sense of community back to the southern Rowan County town.
In the last year, the State Bureau of Investigation opened up an embezzlement probe into the town manager and finance officer, leading to their resignations. The town hired a new town manager, Roger Hosey, who is slated to become the next police chief, according to his contract. The town also hired Diane Seaford as its finance officer. Meanwhile, it’s been under scrutiny from the Local Government Commission, in the State Treasurer Office, for a low amount in its fund balance, partially a savings account, and overspending town money.
Former alderman Dorland Abernathy, current alderman Bobby G. Brown, Mark Connell, Meredith Bare Smith and Alby Stamey are running for mayor. For the two open aldermen seats, Darrell Overcash, Katie Sells and Ashley Stewart are also running.
Abernathy, 70, said he wants a kinder and gentler town hall, which will set an example for the community. At the Landis candidate forum on Oct. 3, he said, “I can disagree with you, but I don’t need to be disagreeable.”
If elected, Abernathy said he’s for helping development with power and water lines, if feasible.
The retired school teacher said he also wants to bring his experience of serving on the board from 2013 to 17. He is a member of the N.C. League of Municipalities and a member of the tax and finance committee. He also has undergone leadership training through the UNC School of Government.
Abernathy noted recently changes the board has now made to implement checks and balances, which he said also was a problem when he served. He said it’s encouraging to see the changes the current board has put into place, and that he wants the town to continue to inform its citizens.
Abernathy campaigned for a second alderman term but lost in 2017.
Brown, 65, whose term doesn’t expire until 2021, says he saw the open mayor seat and decided to run.
“I hope to bring leadership, stability and common sense to handle the problems the town has faced,” Brown said.
Brown said he wants to upgrade the town’s sewer system, which will be a major undertaking for the town.
He said the town is getting back on track and, with the right leadership, Brown said Landis will continue on a steady, constant path.
Whether he remains alderman or is elected mayor, Brown, a retired sergeant, said he has a willingness to work with the board to set up the budget for the town.
For Connell, a front office manager at Mosquito Joe, “it’s about us.” He wants to citizens along with business owners to begin moving forward together.
Integrity is something he wants to bring to the board as Landis mayor.
“If we don’t have a person with integrity, we won’t have transparency,” Connell said.
Connell, 47, said he wants to find avenues of revenue. The board should discuss and decide ways to further and strengthen the local economy. Connell says he also looks to restore the infrastructure in the town.
Smith said a new face and a new culture is desired in Landis.
“It’s time for a hometown girl to step in and move the town in the right direction,” Smith said.
Smith, 33, says her first goal as mayor is to be compliant with the Local Government Commission. The town has been in a negative light. And Smith said she will answer questions and be transparent at board meetings. She also wants to be approachable outside of town hall.
Smith, the office manager at Robert Bare Associates, also said she wants to bring back the small town feel by hosting food truck events and festivals.
Stamey, 58, says he’s campaigning on bringing the town back to life at night and giving kids something to do. Stamey said the town needs to invest in the kids.
Stamey said he can assure that he will tell the truth.
“I cannot lie,” Stamey, a retired business owner, said. “If you always tell the truth, you don’t ever have to remember.”
He says the no one has more integrity than him and he won’t do anything unethical. If it smells fishy, it is fishy, he says.
Overcash, a maintenance supervisor at Atlantic American Properties, he gave in to a desire to run after wanting to help a town he’s lived in for years and local people prodding him to do so.
Besides economic growth, Overcash said he wants to work toward getting Kannapolis to handle Landis’ sewer system and fixing storm water infiltration into the sewer system, which is costing the town a lot of money.
Overcash says a recently implemented car fee has left a “bad taste” in citizens’ mouths. He wants to repeal or decrease the $30 car fee now that Landis has money it didn’t before.
Overcash, 54, says he will bring his business-like approach as alderman.
“We got to run it like a business,” he said. “That business has to be profitable fiscally and for the residents.”
Sells, a correctional case analyst at the N.C. Department of Public Safety, decided to run for alderman after receiving a copy of a Local Government Commission letter stating the agency’s concerns about Landis’ finances. She, like Smith, wants to make sure the town is in compliance with the commission. Sells says she will be open with the citizens and wants them to be able to approach her.
“The whole town needs to regain the trust of the citizens,” said Sells, 46. “There needs to be new, updated transparency.”
Citizens need to see what the town is spending at every meeting, she said.
She said the board needs to work together and work with the town manager and finance officer to make the town run move more smoothly.
Stewart, a benefit consultant at USI Insurance Services, said the Board of Aldermen, by definition, is an extension of the voice of the people.
“I want to be that unbiased voice of the citizen of Landis as their board representative,” Stewart said.
As alderman, Stewart, 40, says he will bring back avenues of community engagement and youth recreational activities. Stewart said he specifically wants to have more citizen engagement pertaining to recycling and beautifying the downtown area. The board need to stabilize its short term budget to be able to capitalize on future growth initiatives, too, Stewart said.
Porter, a police officer, will be on the ballot. However, he is no longer running after realizing a state law says an officer can’t serve on the board of the same municipality for which he works. Porter said he can’t afford to give up his job. The votes, he said, need to go to those running and it’s not fair for him to take those away.
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