MEET THE CANDIDATES: Cornelius Commissioner

  

Pictured above: Dennis Bilodeau, Dave Gilroy, Michael Miltich, Tricia Sisson  – Pictures courtesy of the candidates

CORNELIUS, N.C. (WSIC NEWS) – WSIC is surveying local candidates ahead of the 2019 municipal elections. All candidates were sent the same survey. Answers by candidates may have received light editing that does not impact the content of their answers.

Denis P. Bilodeau

What political party are you affiliated with?

This is a non-partisan position

Why are you running for this position?

Running for re-election to continue to move Cornelius forward…. supporting safety, improved infrastructure (roads, green-ways and parks) while maintaining the lowest property tax rate in the Lake Norman region

What qualifies you for this role?

Management and budgeting experience as a corporate executive with a Fortune 1,000 company, founded a successful Cornelius based Insurance company and currently hold a  leadership position on several non-profit boards.  Served two terms as a Cornelius Parc Commissioner and completing first term as a Town Commissioner.

What changes would you make if elected?

If re-elected…will continue to move Cornelius forward  with improved infrastructure changes and the completion of a downtown arts district anchored by the new Cain Center for the Arts.

What issues/problems do you notice and how are you going to address them?

Traffic congestion is the number 1 issue for our citizens. I will advocate for effective, pro-active communication as road construction begins… encouraging completion as efficiently /quickly as possible.  I will continue to encourage economic development to better balance our commercial / residential tax base, restrict high density residential ( apartments /townhouses) and support countywide efforts to address affordable housing.

What are some of the beneficial/positive things you notice and how are you going to maintain/improve them?

Maintain our high quality of life by supporting our first responders / safety, continue to develop amenities as desired by our citizens such as our parks, green-ways and the creation of a downtown arts district.

Why should voters choose you?

Experience, involvement and a passion for addressing the issues most important to Cornelius citizens.

What are some of your main goals/objectives you hope to accomplish if you’re elected to this position?

  •   Maintaining safety within our Town by supporting our first responders.
  • Improving traffic flow within our Town while ensuring we have efficient road construction. Minimize disruption whenever possible.
  • Continuing to improve our green-way, bike/pedestrian and park amenities
  • Promoting economic development, a vibrant downtown with an arts district anchored by our new Cain Center for the Arts
  • Keeping property taxes at a responsible level and the lowest in the area.

Have you ever held any position(s) before in public office? If so, what position(s) and when?

Currently serving as a Cornelius Town Commissioner  2017 – 2019

In the community where you are running, what are your favorite activities/things to enjoy?

Boating, golf and running/walking in our beautiful parks.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

All candidates for the Town Board have impressive resumes. I stand on my record of community service, business acumen and a passion for all things that maintain/improve  Cornelius quality of life.


Jim Duke

Did not respond to WSIC’s survey.


Dave Gilroy

What political party are you affiliated with?

Republican

Why are you running for this position?

Have served for 15 years and still have plenty of work to do to make Cornelius the most desirable place to live and work in the US.

What qualifies you for this role?

15 years of experience and my well-known voting track record which aligns very well with the vast majority of Cornelius residents. More specifically:

  • Cornelius Pre-Development Board
  • Land Development Code Board
  • Ada Jenkins Center Board
  • Lake Norman Economic Development Board
  • 911 Emergency Board (former Chair)
  • Growth Management Committee
  • Cornelius Planning Board beginning in 2002
  • 3 private corporate boards (current)
  • Former US Army Ranger
  • 4 daughters in CMS schools and service as Chair, Bailey Middle School Leadership Team
  • YMCA youth sports coach – more than 45 teams!

What changes would you make if elected?

  • Preserve Alexander Farm! Reject the proposed 214 high density residential units and ho-humm retail. Find a way to conserve and protect, or at the very least, allow much lighter and less visible residential or economic development on the interior while preserving the rural look and feel from the roads.
  • Win the war against I-77 Tolls! Accelerate the construction and use of the shoulders to add a new General Purpose lane north and south. Eventually buy-out the contract and make all lanes General Purpose
  • Complete near/medium term key transportation projects (Highway 21 /E. Catawba roundabout; Torrence Chapel roundabouts; Bailey Rd straightening to Highway 21; W. Catawba widening to Sam Furr; Northcross extension to Westmoreland; Smithville connector to Highway 21)

What issues/problems do you notice and how are you going to address them?

For almost two decades, I have been pushing hard for 4 imperatives in shaping how Cornelius develops:

  1. Constrain residential growth, especially high density apartment complexes. This is the most important thing we can do to achieve our vision for a distinctive town with an exceptionally high quality of life. Nothing kills quality of life faster than growing housing too fast with the wrong projects in the wrong areas. The free market will run to extremes as it is doing right now in multi-family and simply ‘going with the flow’ will destroy our quality of life long term
  2. Facilitate high quality, job-creating commercial development. We want to be a receptive/creative partner with private sector developers who are pursuing large-scale, high quality projects, e.g. corporate headquarters or lakefront hotel/convention center. We want great-paying local jobs so our citizens do not have to commute to Charlotte on I-77
  3. Slow growth in town government spending. Personnel and Operations spending must not be allowed to grow far faster than our population grows each year.
  4. Preserve rural land on the both the east and west sides.We are blessed to still have large tracts of scenic, natural, rural land, beloved by everyone in our town.
  5. Redevelop the Town Center, involving a wide range of initiatives over time. Old, metal buildings need to be replaced with more architecture along the lines of Town Hall and the Police Station. We will think carefully about the role of a new Community Arts center, a Water Park attraction, and other distinctive features. The new County Recreation Center will play a key role also. Residential re-development of gentrified/aging housing stock is important as well”

What are some of the beneficial/positive things you notice and how are you going to maintain/improve them?

We live in a very, very special town. I have served the 32 thousand citizens of Cornelius for the past 14 years with one primary objective guiding all of my decisions – let’s make Cornelius the highest quality of life place to live in North Carolina and even the U.S.

Why should voters choose you?

I’ll say it again – I have served the 32 thousand citizens of Cornelius for the past 14 years with one primary objective guiding all of my decisions – let’s make Cornelius the highest quality of life place to live in North Carolina and even the U.S. My voting track record proves my personal commitment to that goal.

What are some of your main goals/objectives you hope to accomplish if you’re elected to this position?

  1. Maintain the lowest tax rate in North Carolina for towns our size. Requires slowing the growth of Personnel & Operating spending
  2. Limit government to essential services and support for private business/investment
  3. Constrain residential growth (especially high density, down-market multi-family projects)
  4. Drive for the absolute best, neighborhood schools in America
  5. Invest in transportation infrastructure, parks and recreation, and redevelopment of our Town Center, but do so within our means over time.

Have you ever held any position(s) before in public office? If so, what position(s) and when?

This one for the last 14 years. Prior to that, Cornelius Planning Board for 3 years

In the community where you are running, what are your favorite activities/things to enjoy?

Spending time on the lake with my family.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

Voted against 13% tax hike 2 months ago. Voted against West Catawba Retreat (high density residential project on west side). 3 incumbents now running to return to office – Ross, Bilodeau, and Miltich all voted in favor on both topics.


Diane Gilroy

Did not respond to WSIC’s survey.


Michael  Miltich

What political party are you affiliated with?

Republican. It is appropriate that our elections are non-partisan for a reason: “There is no Democrat vs Republican way to fix a pothole”. My supporters are from both sides of the political aisle, and across the whole town.

Why are you running for this position?

A desire to serve my community/Give back

What qualifies you for this role?

As a physician, I’ve been taught to assess problems, make a diagnosis, implement a solution, and monitor the success of that intervention. Being an elected official makes use of those skills on a much larger scale. I have now served four years and feel those skills have benefited Cornelius.

What changes would you make if elected?

Change is inevitable. The goal is to manage change to effect the best result possible within the realm of attainability.

What issues/problems do you notice and how are you going to address them?

Traffic is our major problem. I have served on CRTPO (regional planning organization) for four years, and improvements are coming. The next challenge is coordination of construction to minimize impact to our citizens and businesses. Once they are completed, there should be a marked improvement in traffic flow in Cornelius.

What are some of the beneficial/positive things you notice and how are you going to maintain/improve them?

We call it the “Cornelius Way” –  Going above and beyond to serve our community with excellence. We also need to preserve the small town feel and features that make living here desirable.

Why should voters choose you?

My work ethic. I have embraced my role as Commissioner and have given it my full attention.

What are some of your main goals/objectives you hope to accomplish if you’re elected to this position?

Continue to improve our Town and manage change.

Have you ever held any position(s) before in public office? If so, what position(s) and when?

My first public office was when I was elected to this position in 2015.

In the community where you are running, what are your favorite activities/things to enjoy?

Cornelius identifies itself as “The Lake Town”. I live on Lake Norman, have boated extensively, and have obtained my Mariners Captains License. I have addressed LKN issues and will attend the Lake Norman Marine Commission meeting when appropriate.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

My fellow candidates are well qualified and would come to the Board with their own expertise. Personally, I appreciate a healthy mix as that enhances discussions and results in a better decision.


Thurman Ross, Jr.

Did not respond to WSIC’s survey.


Tricia Sisson

What political party are you affiliated with?

This race is non-partisan, however I am a registered Republican

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for Cornelius town board because I have a passion to serve my community. I have served the Lake Norman region in various roles over a dozen years focusing on education, small business, women owned businesses, and economic development. If elected I will commit to maintaining the lowest tax rate of any municipality in Mecklenburg County while ensuring we continue to improve our infrastructure and maintain the strong safety record we enjoy thanks to the hard work of our outstanding police and firefighters. I believe Cornelius is the best place to live and work in Mecklenburg County, and the skillset I would bring to the town board would put my common sense business principles to work for our town.

What qualifies you for this role?

As stated above, I have served the Lake Norman region in various roles over a dozen years focusing on education, small business, women owned businesses, and economic development. I am currently the Chairman of the Board of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, I serve on the board of directors of the Lake Norman EDC. I am the past Chairman of the board of Lake Norman Charter School. I am a small business owner. I manage a multi-million dollar budget for a 6 Billion Dollar corporation. My 30+ years in business and serving my community make me uniquely qualified for this position.

What changes would you make if elected?

I would work to change the ways in which the board evaluates and manages the budget, putting a business lens on how we evaluate expenses and budget increases, along with the way the town manages debt.

What issues/problems do you notice and how are you going to address them?

We have a remarkable town, it is a great place to live and work. It is clear though that there are not enough highly compensated positions in the town, and part time and entry level employees are generally not living here as the cost of housing is beyond their ability. I would look at solutions to both of those issues.

What are some of the beneficial/positive things you notice and how are you going to maintain/improve them?

We have a solid plan for infrastructure improvements. The challenge will be working with NCDOT to ensure that these road projects do not cause major disruption as they all are set to begin around the same time, and could easily create a great impediment to the mobility in our town. We must have strong leaders who can work closely with the planners and DOT officials to ensure mobility is maintained while our roads are improved.

Why should voters choose you?

As a wife, mother, and business owner I feel the town board should more closely represent the demographics of the town

What are some of your main goals/objectives you hope to accomplish if you’re elected to this position?

As stated, I would like to challenge the budget process. Even though we enjoy the lowest tax rate of the three municipal towns in N. Mecklenburg, our tax basis is higher per capita because our properties are valued higher. Cornelius was the only town that did not pass a revenue neutral tax rate following the revaluation, and I believe that’s a miss. Most will see a 12-15% increase in their Cornelius property taxes, on top of the increase in their Mecklenburg County property taxes. That’s a lot to ask our families and businesses to absorb in a single year. I believe much more due diligence should have been done to identify ways to cut some spending to account for debt payments and necessary pay increases, to be more surgical in our compensation changes.

Have you ever held any position(s) before in public office? If so, what position(s) and when?

Technically no, however I was elected Hall Senator for the 4th Floor of Winston Dorm at UNC-Chapel Hill my sophomore year in College.

In the community where you are running, what are your favorite activities/things to enjoy?

I enjoy the boating and water activities living in this fantastic lake community afford us. I also enjoy attending community events, patroning our local businesses and restaurants, and spending time with my family and with my faith community.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

I will let the voters compare and contrast us as they read about the candidates’ views and listen to our positions.


 

Author: Niakeya James