Election 2021: Granite Quarry’s new mayor will be a veteran or a newcomer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 19, 2021

GRANITE QUARRY — A fresh face and an old standby are on the ballot for Granite Quarry’s mayor job this year.

Incumbent Mayor Bill Feather is bowing out after a third term on the job. Feather debated filing for reelection to the last minute in 2019, decided he would do no campaigning and see where the votes fell. He was reelected, but this was this was the last time he wanted the job. Now the town has a decision between Brittany Barnhardt and Mike Brinkley to take over the position.

The mayor position is elected separately from the town’s Board of Aldermen. Aldermen serve staggered, four-year terms on the board, can make motions, second them and vote on them. The mayor, by contrast, serves a two-year term, runs meetings and only votes to break ties between the four-member board.

Barnhardt, 35, was born in Salisbury and her family owns Honeycutt Real Estate. She is a former paramedic who worked with Rowan County EMS and Novant Health, as well as a volunteer with Rowan County Rescue Squad. She is a graduate of Wingate University.

Brinkley, 69, is a Granite Quarry native who attended Catawba and Gaston colleges. He owns and runs W.F. Brinkley and Son Construction Company. The legacy company was created by his grandfather in 1931, after he moved to the town in 1920.

This is Barnhardt’s first time seeking elected office. She had an interest in seeking public office for a few years but was focusing on her family.

In the meantime she has been volunteering with local organizations and has served on appointed boards for the town. Currently, she serves on the town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment, the revitalization committee and the fire department auxiliary board.

Brinkley is a veteran of the town’s Board of Aldermen. All told, he has served 14 years on the board and has run unsuccessful campaigns in addition to his winning bids. He most recently ran for a position on the board in 2019 but was defeated by current board members Jim Constantino and Doug Shelton. He was last in office in 2017.

He currently serves on the town’s planning board and has served in other capacities in the past, including a history of service with the fire department with periods as captain, assistant chief and chief. He retired from fire service in 2000.

Barnhardt is running because she wants to continue to get more involved in the community. With her sons in school full time, it seemed like the right time to step up. She said she wants to build a bright future for the next generation.

Brinkley points to his large amount of experience in town government he has to offer the town and the desire to continue good work started by the Board of Aldermen. He pointed to Granite Industrial Park, a recent project, as an important project for the town to continue work on.

Barnhardt said her focus is on parks, infrastructure, downtown development and improving tourism in the town.

“I want to give back to our community and ensure a bright future,” Barnhardt said.

Barnhardt also credited the current Board of Aldermen for improving town policy and staff morale. She said she wants the good morale to spread into the community

Barnhardt said she wants to see the town’s park master plan process prosper to give town staff and committees direction on improving the town’s parks. The town’s parks attracted her family years ago and she wants to improve tourism to other areas.

“I would love to see Granite improve its tourism and have a spot where people want to come outside of just our parks,” Barnhardt said.

Brinkley said the issues he sees are led by the town’s growth. He said a problem the town faces is how to serve people who want to come to Granite Quarry while preserving what it has. On the commercial side, he pointed to continuing work on the industrial park.

Brinkley told the Post he is also concerned with the town’s spending.

He pointed to the recent additions to its town hall, saying the project should have been financed at historically low rates and there is still work to be done on the building. He thinks it is the job of the aldermen to watch money the town spends and wants the board to be more involved in running the town.

He also wants to see improvements to town parks, more engagement with local businesses and to begin a conversation with Faith about how to make the Joint Police Authority work for both towns.