The key to becoming president of your fifth grade class is singing off-key campaign songs that poke fun of yourself. But when you run for town office, I don’t want to see gimmicks. I want to see experience.
Experience can come in many forms – business, community involvement or government. Let’s not forget that Matthews and Mint Hill leaders are responsible for overseeing $21.5 million and $12.5 million budgets, respectively.
Enough rambling. Here’s who I think should win:
• Candidates: Paul Bailey and Larry Whitley
• Vick’s Pick: Paul Bailey has built up enough experience and relationships over his many years of public service to succeed Jim Taylor as mayor. Taylor and a who’s who of regional leaders endorse Bailey.
I believe Bailey has the political gravitas to ensure Matthews gets its fair share in regional discussions involving education, transportation and recreation. I base this on his seven terms as town commissioner, as well as service to the school board and county parks and recreation board.
While Whitley is a man of high integrity, I think he needs a little more polish before becoming mayor. I’ve seen instances over his first term as a town commissioner in which he slowed the board down because he got lost in the process. A mayor needs to navigate his elected colleagues through complex issues.
• Candidates: Norah Burke, Allen Crosby,
Barbara Dement, Sebastian Feculak, John Higdon, Chris Melton, Jeff Miller, Kress Query, Dimple Shah and John Urban
• Vick’s Picks: I believe John Higdon, Chris Melton, Jeff Miller and John Urban deserve to get re-elected. They comprise a town board that I believe is the best from Charlotte to Monroe. Why? Because they are nitpicky when it comes to growth. They make rezoning proposals better because they convince developers to adhere to higher architectural and design standards that fit with the essence of Matthews.
They consistently put pressure on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to address overcrowding, and they have done what elected leaders in Stallings and Indian Trail have yet to do – convince the N.C. Department of Transportation not to put a superstreet design along their portion of Old Monroe Road.
Among the six newcomers, planning board members Kress Query and Barbara Dement are the best candidates. They have the experience and technical expertise to make the board even stronger and more intimidating to developers.
Burke, Crosby, Feculak and Shah are young candidates with good ideas, but I think they need more experience.
Mint Hill mayor
• Candidate: Ted Biggers
• Vick’s Pick: Resist the urge to write in a candidate. Give it to Biggers.
Mint Hill commissioners
• Candidates: Lloyd Austin, Mike Cochrane, Dale Dalton, Alonzo Grier, Richard “Fig” Newton, Eric Random and Katrina (Tina) Weaver Ross
• Vick’s Pick: I’m OK with giving another term to incumbents Dale Dalton, Richard “Fig” Newton and Katrina (Tina) Weaver Ross. They are visible and involved in the community.
With Carl Ellington opting not to run for re-election, I would give the open seat to Mike Cochrane.
Over 35 years, Cochrane helped four banks enter the Mint Hill market, which demonstrates a command of what makes a community tick. Much of his time has been spent in commercial banking, which could give the collective ideas on strengthening the town’s business community and attracting preferred industries.
His involvement in civic groups, such as the Lions Club and Rotary Club, is just as extensive.
Board of Education (District 6 seat)
• Candidates: Allen Smith and Sean Strain
• Vick’s Pick: I believe Sean Strain will best represent the views of Matthews and Mint Hill parents, particularly with those wanting to preserve neighborhood schools. Strain will work to ensure parents have more educational choices in terms of magnet programs.
School bond referendum
• Candidates: Yes or No
• Vick’s Pick: Vote yes!
We published several stories last year mentioning how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools outlined $2 billion in construction and renovation needs. This bond referendum would address $922 million of that, knocking 29 projects off the to-do list.
We published a column from County Commissioner Jim Puckett last week outlining why one should vote no. While I respect Puckett, I think there are less damaging ways to send a message to CMS that it needs to up its game. Let’s start by electing better school board members.