Newcomer makes history in Kannapolis City Council race, two incumbents retain seats

Published 11:44 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

KANNAPOLIS — Two incumbents won reelection and one newcomer made history Tuesday in a crowded Kannapolis City Council race.

Jeanne Dixon became the first African-American woman to be elected to the council, garnering the most votes of any candidate. Dixon received 1,372 votes, 16.09%. Doug Wilson finished in second with 1,280 votes, 15.01%. Dianne Berry came in third with 1,249 votes, or 14.65%. Incumbent Van Rowell, who was seeking a second term in office, fell short. Rowell came in fourth, with 804 votes, 9.43%.

There were 11 total candidates in the race, but Phil Goodman announced that he was no longer running after filing. Goodman finished last, but still garnered 432 votes, or 4.01%.

Dixon said she was completely “overjoyed” after seeing results of the election and is proud to be the first African-American woman to serve on the council. The only African-American man to serve on the council was Ken Geathers.

“Kannapolis is being revitalized from the downtown outward and I think it’s important as people look at Kannapolis that they’re able to see a person who represents a segment of the community that has not been represented in a number of years,” Dixon said. “I think it’s important that younger people see that and that they’re encouraged to become a part of what’s happening in our town, the progress being made in our city.”

Dixon, who retired after a 30-year career with the Cabarrus County Department of Social Services, credited her campaign team and family with helping her over the past several months.

“I’m more humbled by the support of this wonderful team that walked, that made calls, that put stamps on envelopes, that put labels on envelopes,” Dixon said. “I’m just humbled.”

Although Dixon was taking time to savor the victory, she wants the citizens of Kannapolis to know she is ready to get to work.

“I have a reputation of working collaboratively with people and finding all of the facts before making critical decisions and I will continue to do that,” Dixon said.

Wilson, who was first elected to the council in 2013, will serve a third term. He is a businessman who owns his own company and is the chief operating officer for another.

“I’m very thankful to the people of Kannapolis for having the confidence and trust in me to give me the opportunity to serve another time,” Wilson said. “I’m very thankful. I still think we have a lot to accomplish here and I’m thankful to be a part of it. This is my hometown and I can’t think of a better thing to do than work for my town and my people.”

Wilson commended Dixon on a well-run campaign and said she will be an asset to the town. Berry said she has a longstanding relationship with Dixon and believes the newcomer will be great on council.

Berry said she was proud to be reelected for a third term.

“I want to thank all of those who worked so hard to help with my campaign,” Berry said. “I believe our city will see many changes over the next four years. I commit to do the best job I can as a city council member in every situation. It has been and will continue to be an honor to serve. I am grateful to my wonderful supportive family for always standing behind me.”

Berry, recently retired after 23 years in human resources at the Cabarrus Health Alliance, said she was thankful to voters in both Rowan and Cabarrus counties, since Kannapolis is split between the two. 

Wilson was most popular among Rowan County voters, tallying 238 votes, 17.80%, while Dixon garnered 213, 15.93%. Berry received 201 votes, 15.03% in Rowan County. On the Cabarrus County side, results were, in order, Dixon, Berry and Wilson.

Darrell Hinnant was elected for a third term as mayor in an uncontested race, earning total 1,845 votes. There were 879 write-in votes, totaling 32.27% of the total number cast.

“I’m excited and I’m appreciative of the support that I have,” Hinnant said. “I believe it says that the community believes that the plan that we’ve set out and promoted is a successful plan and they want us to finish the work and that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Hinnant said he was pleased to see Dixon win election since she was one of three candidates he supported.

Hinnant congratulated the three winners and said the council appears “ready to move this city forward.”