The meeting, sponsored by the Mint Hill Women’s Club, gave the public a close and personal look at the candidates for Mint Hill town commissioner as well as District 6 school board.
Each candidate was given two minutes to introduce him or herself, and then the moderator, Bettie Ann Haynes from the Charlotte Mecklenburg League of Women Voters, asked questions from the audience.
Candidates for commissioner focused mainly on the need to balance economic development with the desire to keep Mint Hill’s small town appeal.
Other topics included finding space in local parks for lacrosse fields and a continued review of pedestrian and bike access to downtown Mint Hill.
School board incumbents touched on budget cuts to classrooms and teachers, charter schools, school safety, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) programs, and the concept of giving school board tax- ing authority.
Mayor Ted Biggers, Mayor pro tem Lloyd Austin, commissioners Brenda McRae, and Carl “Mickey” Ellington were in attendance. Tina Ross was unable to attend because of illness. Eric Random was not in attendance.
Incumbents Dale Dalton, Rich Ferretti, Harry Marsh, and Richard “Fig” Newton were present.
Two of the candidates for School Board District 6, Paul Bailey and Bolyn McClung were present. Incumbent Doug Wrona did not attend.
With the slow and steady economic growth in the area, residents were interested in hearing how the candidates will handle the opportunities that are sure to come to Mint Hill by way of five interchanges off I-485 that lead directly to the town.
The candidates for com- missioner had the chance to share their vision for how they will make a difference if elected.
“Street lights are needed all the way down to Phyllis Lane,” says Richard “Fig” Newton. “There are some gaps and the streetlights would provide for a more defined downtown area.”
Harry Marsh is concerned about the lack of political involvement in the younger generation.
“I would like to get the public more involved,” says Marsh. “Sometimes it’s cheaper to get the public involved than having the government handle it themselves.”
Mickey Ellington is concerned about bringing water and sewer to areas in need.
“We do have a lot of people with bad water,” he says. “We need to bring water and sewer to everyone.”
Brenda McRae is most proud of the way the current board has a long-standing record of completing the tasks they start.
“We would continue to set and obtain goals,” she says.
Dale Dalton wants more growth around I-485. .
“More businesses and restaurants would create more jobs,” days Dalton.
Lloyd Austin also wants more business and plans for I-485.
“We need more businesses, but we must be protec- tive of our interchanges,” he says. “We want the right kind of business.”
Rich Ferretti is a proponent of long-range strategic planning.
“We can’t wait for businesses to come to us,” he says. “We need to be proac- tive. We need to involve the community and promote local businesses.”
The most heated debate of the evening was between the two school board can- didates.
There is an idea being discussed in CMS which would give CMS the power to levy taxes to support the schools.
“No way would I ever in my lifetime agree with that,” says Bolyn McClung. “No taxing authority for the school board.”
Paul Bailey says, “I’m not sure the school board should have taxing author- ity, but the money has to come from somewhere, either the county or the state. I have long-term, re- spectful relationships with county and state officials. You can’t have a negative attitude and expect them to sit down with you to tackle the issues.”
With just a few short weeks until Election Day, the candidates are eager to make their impressions and garner votes. There are bound to be some disagreements, but there is one thing they all agreed on, and that is that everyone should get out and vote.
The general election is on Tuesday, November 5. Polls are open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm.
If you are unsure where to vote, visit www.charmeck.org to locate your polling place.