MEET THE CANDIDATES: Huntersville Mayor

  

Pictured above: Incumbent Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla and challenger Rob Kidwell. Candidate Darryl Cero did not respond to WSIC’s survey – Pictures courtesy of the candidates.

HUNTERSVILLE, 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 have received light editing that does not impact the content of their answers.

John Aneralla

What political party are you affiliated with?

Republican

Why are you running for this position?

I want to continue to work with the town board and staff to ensure Huntersville remains one of the best places to live in North Carolina. The NC Chamber recently ranked Huntersville as the 3rd best place to live in NC!

What qualifies you for this role?

I have been Mayor for the past 4 years and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience working within government. Also, I have lived in Huntersville for 22 years, worked in the financial services industry for 33 years and been active in my community through various charities and youth sports.

What changes would you make if elected?

I will continue to build on the progress the board, staff and I have made over the past four years.

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

Infrastructure improvements including new roads, sidewalks and green ways need to be accelerated.

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

The town has improved the business climate by maintaining a low tax rate, bringing in-house various land use & environmental services, updating ordinances, being proactive with our communications to businesses and in general being more involved in the business community.

Why should voters choose you?

The town’s proven track record during my tenure as Mayor. We have led the region on various issues like policing our unincorporated area, transit, studying education options, improving the business climate, communicating to our citizens and being fiscally responsible. Huntersville is the only municipality in Meck. County that has not raised property taxes over the past 4 years!!! At the same time, we have significantly reduced the town’s debt as a percentage of the town’s annual tax revenues.

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

Encouraging development of our downtown, continue improving communications to our citizens, recruiting more businesses and updating the town’s 2030 Master plan.

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

Currently Mayor of Huntersville since 2015.

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

Attending events at Veterans Park and other area venues, outdoor recreational activities, working out at HFFA, walking in my neighborhood, going to Birkdale Village etc.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

I believe the town has made tremendous progress over the past four years under my leadership. I have a proven successful track record in running efficient board meetings, leading on issues, working with the other municipalities, being proactive communicating potential problems and being accessible to all parts of our community.


Rob Kidwell

What political party are you affiliated with?

I am a Registered Republican

Why are you running for this position?

As a multi-term, Huntersville Town Commissioner, doing the right thing for my community came first, above anything else. This was done through strong regionalism, vision, and collaboration with our neighboring towns, county and state. Under the current Mayor’s leadership, we have secluded ourselves from those entities and limited the conversations and collaboration that could help our town and region move forward. As the next Mayor I would work with the elected Commissioners, utilizing our strengths to rebuild many of those bridges and continue to collaborate with the leadership at all levels to strategically improve Huntersville and the region.

What qualifies you for this role?

Having served 4 years as a commissioner for the Town of Huntersville, I know our town, budgeting and governmental process in which we are required to follow. I have had the opportunity to continue to form positive relationships with many of our local and state elected officials (Current and Former), helping pave the way for better communication and collaboration. My 20 years in manufacturing management and business development, has allowed me the ability to understand and work with people from different backgrounds, for a common goal.

What changes would you make if elected?

I would work to bring consistency to how the commissioners are appointed to their perspective positions and boards, making sure that all commissioners are treated equally. I would change the process on how the public hearing meetings are conducted, making sure all citizens are allowed to be heard and when they come back to the board for decision, limit the “recap” from the requester to a time period, agreed upon by the board. The current Mayor and board have been creating a “slate” of appointees to committees and voting on all at once. I would bring this back to voting at the board meeting, with each commissioner getting a vote, and the Mayor only voting in a tie, not having input or personal picks to be on a various committee.

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

Huntersville faces many obstacles and challenges, and each one is uniquely important to our community.

Regionalism and the ability to collaborate with our neighboring towns, county and state is one that is particularly important to us going forward. While I was in office and over the past two-years, while out of office, I have been able to maintain and grow relationships with other towns and local leaders that will bring unity back to our region and town. These relationships have allowed us to start and continue the study into Ocular Melanoma, begin to police our own ETJ areas, and purchase and build quality of life projects like our new recreation center and Fire Station #4 in our town. As we continue, we need the leadership that is willing to work with others and be a voice for our town in for educational choice, land planning, continued infrastructure improvements, economic development, and completing promised projects.

Growth in in our town continues to explode, and we must address both the need and the impact that it has on our community. The towns blueprint and plan for our growth was adopted in 2011. In 2016, it was suggested we begin updating it, yet pushed aside until this year. Huntersville is now just beginning to start the process of updating our 2030 plan. I have the vision to make sure that the new plan is updated at least every four years, and reviewed by staff and the community, so we address the needs of the community sooner rather than later. The past two years, the current Mayor has called the current plan a “suggestion” rather than a guide and in one meeting said “this would not be an issue if it was not for the 2030 plan”, ignoring the plans laid out by our community, and encouraging board members to do the same.

Transparency, respect, and communication is very important to our citizens. Too many times over the past two years, I have watched as citizens were shut down at town meetings, not being allowed to ask their questions and voice their concerns. Leaving many to have their questions unanswered. As the next mayor, I will work with staff, the town board, Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Committees and the local media to make sure we are respectfully informing and updating our constituents, businesses, and local neighborhood associations. The Mayor and Commissioners work for the citizens of this town and I will make sure everyone is heard. This will need to be a priority, since after nearly three decades of planning at the state and local levels, we have nearly 600 million dollars of infrastructure projects heading to our area. We need to make sure our businesses and residents are impacted as little as possible during the construction period.

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

I am pleased with the better communication coming from the town and would like to see us continue to use technology to relay to the people what is going on during meetings. Right now, the mayor does a meeting recap, that for the most part is accurate. I would ask that each board member take turns doing a recap of the meeting, explaining to everyone how each vote was decided upon.

Why should voters choose you?

By electing me to this position, the voters will get a Mayor who will work for ALL the residents of Huntersville. I will work to change process at our town level, for a more transparent and ethical government. They will be electing a respected regional leader that can and will work with all representatives in our county and state.

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

Earlier I spoke about regionalism and how I have been and will continue to be working with local leaders for the benefit of our town. We have a great deal of transportation improvements heading to our area, after decades of work and collaboration by past leaders and staff. We need to begin working now planning and setting our town and region for the next round of transportation improvements, so we won’t have to wait 30 years for something else to begin.

Transparency, consistency, and following the towns plans and guidelines are important. We must stop the back room deals and job offers that have been done and make sure we do this in the public eye, and not after the fact. Utilize the plans (like the 2030 plan currently being updated) when making decisions for rezoning request and work for all our residents. Bring back open board voting on town created committees so we have an open and honest conversation /vote on the individuals and not appoint people because they are like minded.

We should also be passing policy that does not allow open ended contracts to be made with the town, and within a given period, prior to a contracts end date, they should be sent out for RFP or RFQ, so a decision can be made by the staff and board for the best interest of the town.

I want us to continue our study into the Ocular Melanoma, especially the environmental portion. We had the opportunity to do this back in 2015 with CMS as a partner but was stopped by the current Mayor when we received funding from the State.

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

Elected: Huntersville Town Commissioner (2013-2017) / Appointed: Mecklenburg County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority (2012-2018) / Appointed:League of Municipalities Tax and Finance Committee (2014-2017) / Appointed:CRTPO Representative (2015-2017)

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

My family enjoys utilizing the many parks and recreation events that are offered. We attend almost all the town festivals and concerts, it’s a great way to get out and meet many of our neighbors and they really show what a large and diverse community that we live in. Having Veterans Park has really been great so that we have a true designated meeting space for our citizens and the various events. I am happy I had the opportunity to approve funding and be there for when we broke ground on the project. Both my wife and I really like to show by example and encourage our daughter to get out in the community as much as we can whether attending events, volunteering (I am on the board for the Lotta Foundation which serves many of those in our town) in the area or just making sure we support all our local businesses.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

My opponent and I are both republicans in a non-partisan race. I believe in processes and data to guide decisions and utilizing town plans and that have been created by our staff and citizens, whereas the current mayor has said “if it wasn’t for the 2030 plan we could just do it” referring to a rezoning request. I have advocated for the preservation of our commercial property, instead of rezoning to residential. We both believe in school options, choice, but I would want to see more research done on any town charter school option with the people of the town ultimately voting on the issue, while working with CMS, and local public charter,to improve conditions for all our children. The people of Huntersville deserve to be listened to and have a voice, even if we disagree and not dictated to them what needs to happen. I believe in being a team player and working with my entire board and regional communities, not just the ones I can get on my side of an issue. As a past commissioner of the Town of Huntersville and potential future Mayor, I want to make sure we are being transparent when holding meetings, appointing committee members and making decisions, and communicating with the public on issues facing our community.

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