Election 2021: Candidates in East Spencer hoping to continue moving town forward

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

EAST SPENCER — Candidates seeking election in East Spencer say they want to be part of leading a town that’s “on the move.”

Mayor Barbara Mallett is seeking re-election. She was first elected to the board in 2005 and served as the town clerk and finance officer before her election as mayor in 2011. In East Spencer, mayors serve a two-year term, while board members serve four-year terms. Incumbents Albert Smith, Dwayne Holmes and Tony Hillian are seeking re-election, with a challenge from Shawn Rush, who’s the second vice chair of the Rowan County Democratic Party. Three seats on the board are up for grabs.

Mallett said she’s running to “keep East Spencer on the move.” She wants to provide wisdom to a board that’s done a lot to make sure the town’s foundation is solid. Some recent improvements include a new dedication to “cleaning up the town” with code enforcement and the purchase of new police and public works vehicles using American Rescue Plan dollars.

Future goals include continued development of the Interstate 85 corridor, with about 250 acres of the town primed for development, and selling some of the city’s surplus property. Additionally, the town received $1.9 million in Community Development Block Grants from the federal government to rehabilitate some sewer lines, and millions in the state’s budget, which hasn’t yet been passed, would be funded to the town for more water and sewer improvements.

Mallett joked that she belongs to “too many organizations” but that it was to increase the town’s visibility across the state and region.

East Spencer resident Timothy Trogdon is challenging Mallett as a write-in candidate. He works with the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Transportation Department and is a veteran of the Air Force, Army National Guard and Army Reserves. Trogdon said issues core to his platform include utilizing a grant writer to assist the town in applying for state and federal funding, promoting better code enforcement, promoting better communications with law enforcement and residents and developing a better record-keeping system to feature the history of the town.

Smith said he wants to “continue the good work that this board is doing” and keep receiving grants to help revitalize and improve housing across the town. He referenced the recent annexation of an 21-acre lot near the intersection of McCanless and Choate roads that will eventually bring up to 80 new housing units.

Holmes said progress is “inching along little by little,” but there’s still more to be done. He’d like election to a second term to help attract more industries and work toward improving the town’s water infrastructure to generate revenue.

Hillian said the current board “has come a long way,” but he’d like to continue bringing in more housing and economic development, as well as expansion of the town’s limits near I-85. Hillian has helped with some special projects and enjoys helping residents with their concerns.

“The time for talking is in the past,” Hillian said. “Let’s do.”

Rush co-owns a marketing agency called DJR Trinity Group. He said he’d like to focus on special projects and revisiting old ones that never made it to fruition, like expanding the town’s greenway. He’d like to see all the roads paved, even if that means working with state lawmakers to acquire grants. And a bit focus is on “the eyesore” of the Dunbar Center, which also requires revitalizing the Long Street corridor, he said.

Rush said his involvement with the Democratic Party and current relationships with state lawmakers will help him in getting the town’s goals completed.