MATTHEWS – With only two incumbents making the cut, it’s now clear the Matthews Board of Commissioners will have a new face Dec. 9, when the newly elected board will be sworn in.
Only three incumbents were vying for a spot on the six-seat board, including Jeff Miller, who received 1,711 votes; Kress Query, 1,622 votes; and John Urban, who fell short of a seat with 1,467 votes in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, election. Challengers John Higdon, Chris Melton, Joe Pata and John Ross took the other four seats. Current Mayor Pro Tem Paul Bailey and commissioners Suzanne Gulley and Nancy Moore did not seek re-election, though Bailey did win the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education District 6 seat. Find more information on that race on page 11. Current Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor, who ran unopposed in the mayoral race, again took the mayor seat.
There are more than 20,350 registered voters in Matthews. About 2,400 people came out to cast a vote this year, according to estimates from the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website.
New commissioners will be sworn in at the board’s Dec. 9 meeting, when leaders will hit the ground running heading into a busy holiday season. That season will involve heavy preparation for the new board’s first public hearing in mid-January, where issues like the controversial Elizabeth Lane Elementary stealth tower proposal will likely be discussed. That project, along with continued and more advocacy for widening of South Trade Street and its bridge, will likely be one of the key issues the new board immediately will face.
“Widening Trade Street is the next big project in town and lobbying the state to pay for widening of the culvert under Trade Street, including a greenway connector to Four Mile Creek Greenway…,” Miller said, echoing thoughts and comments of several other commissioner-elects. “We’re putting $5.5 million into a state road – why? It’s a Matthews problem, but we need the state to step up and help. If we don’t widen the culvert, we haven’t solved the problem.”
Other issues newly elected officials want to immediately address include enforcement of the town’s tree ordinance to protect the highly coveted tree canopy, Higdon said. Pata, a well-known proponent of athletics in the area, is ready to encourage and promote progress with the start of phase II for the newly opened Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews.
For first-time board members, results of Tuesday’s race are still setting in. Though disappointed with a small voter turnout, all the leaders expressed thankfulness and appreciation for the support and encouraging actions through a long campaign season. With little rest, the future commissioners are now focusing and working to get up to speed for December, and expect to hit the ground running.
“Reality hasn’t set in yet, but I’m ready to go to work. I’m excited about Dec. 9. There are a lot of current and big items to discuss,” Melton said, adding while he and some of the other new commissioners could come in with different priorities, the board already has enough to address over the first few months in office. “We have enough going on right now to keep us busy in the first few months of 2014.”
Overall, Higdon brought in 1,682 votes, Melton 1,557, Pata 1,839 and Ross 1,629. Check out www.meckboe.org for more details on election results.
All election results will not be made official until Tuesday, Nov. 12.