MEET THE CANDIDATES: Statesville City Council Ward 4

  

Pictured above: Statesville City Council ward four candidates Julius Hoke, Kyle Houston, Amy Lawton, and James Pressly – Submitted Photos

Statesville, N.C. (WSIC NEWS) – WSIC is surveying local candidates ahead of the 2019 municipal elections. All candidates were sent the same survey. Answers from Statesville Ward Four candidates appear below.  Some responses have been lightly edited, but largely appear as submitted.  WSIC will host a LIVE forum for ward four candidates Friday, September 20 at 11 a.m. Questions for candidates can be submitted to news@wsicweb.com.

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Julius Hoke

What political party are you affiliated with?

Non-Affilliated (Independent Conservative)

Why are you running for this position?

I believe our council needs a middle class family man that has felt the effects of past desicions and tax increases and will be a voice for all the citizens of Statesville.

 What qualifies you for this role?

I’ve been a self employed business man for the past 25 years. I have set budgets, I’ve been involved in purchasing and accounting, I’ve managed employees and marketed and promoted several business. I’ve worked with almost every city department and I have personal relationships with many department supervisors. I feel I will be a trusted voice and contact for the city employees as well as citizens from all areas of Statesville.

What changes would you make if elected?

Our government must focus on three major priorities Public Safety, Infrastructure and the delivery of necessary services, and promoting an environment that attracts and retains businesses. Current and Future programs must be implemented to ensure that we continue to gain and maintain these priorities.

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

Lack of economic development- Economic development must become a priority, I believe a plan is vital to bringing much needed growth to our city. Our plan should have a vision, mission, goals, strategies and actions. It should contain short, medium and long term goals, and consider the cost associated with implementation. We must continuously evaluate the plan to ensure economic growth and the plan itself remains consistent with the vision,mission and goals.

Public Safety- Property Crime is up 8% and is a huge issue for Statesville. Crime rates are tracked by many independent sources which can be easily found on the internet. High crimes statistics can be damaging and be a deterrent for possible development and investments.

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

Our downtown resurgence and development is a positive- A parking plan must be established to ensure future growth. Our airport- improvements must be maintained, promoted and future improvements must be planned for and sought after. Infrastructure-  We must continue to capitalize and promote our current improvements as well as all the major road improvement coming in the near future. Our geographical location must be taken advantage of.

Why should voters choose you?

My intentions to seek this office are based solely on my love for the city and the citizens that live here. I’m running because I feel our city has been misled in a shroud of secrecy and non transparency.  Too many times our citizens have been blindsided by decisions that seem to only benefit a few including the ones voting for them. Basic needs and the welfare of city employees have taken a back seat to pet projects. Embarrassing decisions and behavior have put our city in the spotlight in a negative way too many times.

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

First and foremost our city departments need to have the proper equipment needed to do the job assigned and expected from the city taxpayers. A program to provide future equipment needs, should be established. We should replace equipment based on its expected lifespan not wait for it to become unusable then scramble to find the money to replace it. City employees pay as well as benefits need to become a priority. Many city employees make under poverty level salaries. To retain quality and loyal employees we must become competitive with our neighbors.

Economic development must become a priority, I believe a plan is vital to bringing much needed growth to our city. Our plan should have a vision, mission, goals, strategies and actions. It should contain short, medium and long term goals, and consider the cost associated with implementation. We must continuously evaluate the plan to ensure economic growth and the plan itself remains consistent with the vision,mission and goals.

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

No

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

Ward 4 covers a large area of our downtown as well as MLK park. My family and I enjoy walks to the Park and we also enjoy walks through downtown. We try and frequent as many local businesses as possible. Eating out and enjoying Statesville’s local music scene is also a favorite.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

I’m a lifelong Statesville resident. I own a home in Ward 4 and Pay city taxes. I have been effected by tax increases, crime and other city services. I have owned several businesses in Downtown and other areas of the city. I have personal relationships with someone in almost every city department as well as our local government. I have always been available and transparent in my beliefs and visions for Statesville. I have daily contact with the citizens and have listened to and sympathized with the neglect many feel that have suffered from. I have no personal gain and will have no conflicts of interest with any votes. I’m not interested in the position for any sort of political gain, a line on a resume or future political positions.


Kyle Houston

What political party are you affiliated with?

I am a registered Republican, but a philosophical libertarian similar to Rand and Ron Paul

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for this position because many of the issues I highlighted during my run for Mayor of Statesville two years ago remain major issues today.  Poverty rates in Statesville are well above the County/State/and Nationwide average.  Additionally, certain areas of the city are plagued by vacant homes and businesses (such as our Mall – although it is not 100% vacant), and other properties that are in serious disrepair

What qualifies you for this role?

  • I was born in Statesville and have lived here most of my life.  But I have also lived in other parts of the State for lengthy periods of time and I have seen what vibrant growing towns look like and what stagnant towns look like.  (Sylva NC from 2000-2004, Mathews/Charlotte NC from 2004-2013, and Brevard NC part-time between 2008-2010).
  • I attended UNC Charlotte from 2008-2013 and studied Political Science and Economics.
  • I led a local chapter of a national organization called “Students for Liberty” on campus at UNC Charlotte.  We distributed books and held events that empowered students with knowledge of the free-market system and other libertarian ideals.
  • I participated in, and eventually led, a local chapter of North Carolina Student Legislature (NCSL) and participated in monthly mock legislative sessions.  We wrote legislation, backed by in-depth research, and would then debate the proposed legislation with other members of the organization from Universities all over the State of North Carolina.
  • I am the former Vice-Chair of our local Performing Arts Live of Iredell.  During that time, my business was a major donor to the organization.
  • I currently sit on the Board of Directors of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce.
  • I currently serve as President of the Greater Statesville Rotary Club, and regularly participate in local service projects in conjunction with the club.  We serve food at Fifth St Ministries regularly. We have raised money for and ran supply drives for NB Mills Elementary, Purple Heart Homes, the Elder Center, the Salvation Army, Statesville High School, and many other local organizations and non-profits.  Many of our members, myself included, pooled money together and provided 4 local students with scholarships to the local Career Academy & Technical School.
  • I run two successful Allstate Insurance Agencies here in Statesville and currently employ 10 people (with health benefits) that live in our community.  I am also a licensed financial advisor.
  • I have a weekly radio show on WAME Radio on Wednesday mornings called “Houston’s Solutions” where we discuss local and national issues and potential solutions.
  • I have attended virtually every city council meeting for the past 3 years, with the exception of a handful, and I am well aware of the current issues being considered (or that have already been decided by) the City Council.

What changes would you make if elected?

  • Incentives for businesses that can pay living wages to open locations in Statesville;
  • Penalties for business and personal property owners that leave their properties vacant or in disrepair;
  • Pro-active measures utilizing modern technology to reduce crimes, such as theft, vandalism, and other violent crimes;
  • Increased transparency within City Council;
  • Loosening regulations and restrictions on private property owners who which to improve and modernize private property;
  • Expanding high-speed broadband access to all residents within city limits at reasonable costs; and
  • Improving our local school system and encourage more students to attend a technical school to fill immediate job needs within our community

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

  • High poverty rates – financial incentives for businesses that can pay living wages.
  • Large numbers of vacant properties and properties in disrepair – financial penalties for property owners that allow their properties to remain vacant and/or in disrepair, and relaxed restrictions for property owners who wish to improve their properties.  For example, in the historic district, you have to jump through hoops to do things as simple as putting a new roof on your house, or painting your house.  This process should be simplified, and some restrictions should be lifted altogether.  For example, aesthetically pleasing solar roofing should be allowed if the property owner wishes to install it.
  • High crime rate – utilization of modern surveillance systems in public areas (such as downtown and on public roads) to deter crime or solve the crime quickly.
  • Lack of transparency on City Council – broadcast the TV stream of City Council meetings online (via social media or YouTube or on the City Website). Reduce the utilization of the Pre-Agenda Meeting that is not broadcast to the public.
  • Lack of access or inability to afford high-speed broadband access – a public option, a public-private partnership, or we should open up access for other Internet Service Providers and allow competition to drive down prices (such as Google Fiber – which simply asks that cities provide them with a plan to consider expansion).

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

  • Downtown Statesville seems to be coming back to life with a vibrant arts and nightlife scene.  I would like to continue to make it easier for people to do business and improve their properties all over town.  Additionally, the city should provide additional support to our local Arts Council and Theatre.
  • City Employees are very well trained and deserve better compensation plans over the course of their careers.  This will allow us not only to keep great employees but attract life long employees and Statesville residents.
  • Statesville sits on the crossroads of two major highways, and we need to encourage continued development off of the major exits in our city.  East Broad St could use some serious attention.

Why should voters choose you?

Of the candidates running in my Ward, I am the most active in the community and I have put my money where my mouth is to support and invest in this community.  Additionally, I believe I am most qualified for the job.  See answers to question #4.

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

See answers to previous questions.

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

No, I have never held positions in public office.

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

  • I enjoy the Statesville arts scene such as our local musicians that play at local restaurants and bars, Live after Five, Theatre Statesville, Iredell Arts Council, Iredell Museum, local radio, etc.
  • I enjoy giving back to the community through volunteer work with the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.
  • I enjoy time with my family, most of whom are long-time or lifetime residents of Statesville.
  • I enjoy interactions with clients and my work as an Insurance Agent and Financial Advisor.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

Unfortunately, I do not know very much about my opponents.  A couple of them have not been very much engaged in our local community and I have not had the opportunity to meet them, so I find it interesting that they are now running for public office.  I do know Julius Hoke quite well and have had many long chats with him.  He is a nice guy, but I am convinced that I am more qualified for the position than him and my other opponents.


Amy Lawton

What political party are you affiliated with? 

I am a registered Independent

Why are you running for this position? 

To keep Statesville moving in a positive direction

What qualifies you for this role? 

I have been on the board of several non-profit organizations in Statesville.  I was the President of Iredell Museums for five years, I am currently the Secretary of the Board of Fifth Street Ministries, and I served on the Board of the Statesville Family YMCA for several years and also co-chaired their Annual Giving Campaign multiple times.  I was a member of the Vestry at Trinity Episcopal Church. I have a strong leadership track record.  Also, I am President of my own calibration business in Statesville.

What changes would you make if elected?

I would like to see less partisan politics in local government.  I would also like to see elected officials looking out for making Statesville better rather than accommodating their own personal agendas.

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

See above, I think there are many positive aspects to life here and I am willing to listen to my constituents in order to address their ongoing concerns

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

Low taxes and high quality of life, I would like to continue to keep the cost of living reasonable in Statesville and hopefully attract more people to live here.

Why should voters choose you?

I’m an independent without a personal agenda, my goal is to work together with other members of council to make Statesville the best it can be, I am the parent of children in public school and a strong advocate for our school system

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

Finally getting the “flag flap” behind us, continuing to make downtown and the businesses there prosper, attracting new business and jobs to our town.

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

No

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

Walking my dog around my neighborhood, spending time with my husband, children, and friends downtown and enjoying all it has to offer, playing tennis at Caldwell Park

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s). 

I believe that everyone who is running is doing so in order to move Statesville forward rather than advancing personal missions or stroking egos.  I think I have the ability to look at issues in a “big picture” way and make decisions based on all the facts/opinions presented to me


James Pressly

What political party are you affiliated with?

Non-partisan election.

Why are you running for this position?

Statesville needs strong leaders. I’m running because I want to serve the citizens of Statesville and I can provide leadership that helps the families and businesses in Ward 4 continue to move forward. I’m running because I care deeply about Statesville and its future. I want my vision for a better, stronger, more prosperous Statesville to become a reality, and the way that is accomplished is through grassroots political action. My vision of a better, stronger Statesville starts with the three Rs:

  1. Restore Statesville’s image
  2. Recruit new employers and community partners
  3. Retain local businesses and families

By Restore Statesville’s image I mean that I am unable to understand how our city council became so distracted over the size of an American flag. We know about 27,000 of Iredell County citizens are veterans and have served in the armed services. From many of my own family members, I know what members of my family as well as the 27,000 of our Iredell County citizens who have served their country think when they see the American flag: their personal service, their friends with whom they served, their friends whom they lost during their service, as well as many other powerful images which relate to the United States of America. We have wasted so much time, energy, and money fighting a local business owner who wants to fly a flag the size of others we often see along the interstates. We need to regain our priorities and focus on the responsibility of providing our basic city services to the citizens of Statesville.

By Recruit and Retain I mean that I know how important it is to provide meaningful and quality employment opportunities for our citizens. Many Ward 4 citizens are surprised when I tell them that the incomes of Statesville families have decreased since the great recession ended, while other close-by and similar towns experience an increase in their family incomes. The census shows that the Statesville median family income has fallen about $4,000 since 2010, when we were in the depths of the recession. As I have campaigned, parents in Ward 4 have told me they hope the city will recruit meaningful and higher paying job opportunities should their children want to come back to Statesville to live and work after their education.

The Iredell County Economic Development Corporation’s annual job report shows that since 1993, Statesville has lost an average of 242 jobs per year. When Statesville loses a job, it is highly probable that we lose that family. We must focus on retaining our existing jobs, while also aggressively pursuing new employers and job opportunities which will attract bright young men and women who will want to return home to work and live in Statesville. We need to focus on high wage, high demand, contemporary jobs in the modern economy which can include, for example, companies in the field of research and development (R&D), advanced manufacturing, technology and innovation, data programmers, and software and search engine developers. I will help move Statesville towards a more modern and prosperous knowledge-based economy which creates higher paying jobs for our families and citizens.

What qualifies you for this role?

I am the fourth generation of my family to live in Statesville, I am a proud local business owner, I know what it means to serve, and I know what it takes to meet the needs of our citizens. Public service is in my blood and I know how city governments and civic institutions can benefit and provide opportunities for all of its citizens. My family has a deep history of public service in Statesville. My great grandfather was recruited to Statesville in 1892 as a young Presbyterian minister, and he served his congregation and the citizens of Statesville as pastor of the First ARP Church downtown Statesville for 54 years. My grandfather was a WWII combat veteran and medical officer in the US Army, and he returned home and served Statesville as a family doctor for over 50 years. My father served his country in the US Army as a combat engineer, served on the Statesville City Council, and served as Mayor. My mother was an English teacher and taught at Mitchell Community College. From an early age I was taught the virtue of public service and the importance of civic duty and giving back to the community.

Public service means putting your personal ambition aside and working together to meet the strategic needs of the community, made up of the citizens and businesses which make Statesville so special. It is important for the city council to always remember whom they serve. My campaign for the Ward 4 seat of Statesville City Council is grassroots and voter-centric. Every day I walk through Ward 4 and meet our citizens where they live. I have engaged in many interesting conversations on how our citizens believe our city government can improve and how we can work towards common goals to address many of the problems we face. It is the city government’s responsibility to listen to their citizens and always remember that it is those citizens whom they serve. I have heard the people of Ward 4 clearly and learned much by meeting our citizens where they live. That knowledge will serve me well as I work to meet the strategic needs of our citizens in Ward 4.

My academic and professional backgrounds have also prepared me to serve on Statesville city council. I graduated with a degree in History from the University of South Carolina and earned master’s degrees in business administration from Western Carolina University and real estate finance from UNC Charlotte. My academic training taught me to be analytical, objective, and to cultivate opinions and draw conclusions based on reasoning and fact. When I finished school, I did not move to Raleigh or Charlotte when that opportunity was available, but chose to move back to Statesville to start a business. I love this town and I will never stop fighting to make it better, stronger, and more prosperous.

What changes would you make if elected?

The citizens of Ward 4 will be highly involved in my decision-making process for as long as I have the privilege of serving on Statesville City Council. I will conduct quarterly “listening sessions” to hear from my constituents which will be an opportunity for citizens to attend a public forum and open-style event to discuss issues and concerns they have for Statesville and Ward 4. As I campaign and visit with Ward 4 citizens at their homes and businesses, one of the most frequent comments I receive is that many of our local political leaders have lost touch with the voters and the citizens of Statesville. I will always listen to my constituents and my actions will always be guided by their input.

The Statesville 2019-2020 budget and the significant capital improvement and budgetary needs in Statesville’s near future concern me deeply, and I will take steps to place our city on firmer financial footing. The city of Statesville is not generating enough revenue to pay its police, fire, and sanitation services a competitive wage, and often the city will spend significant time, money, and effort training firemen and policemen only to see those men and women leave Statesville to work in near-by cities which pay a higher wage. The city can generate more revenue by expanding Statesville’s tax base which will not only take property tax pressure off our current home owners and businesses, but will also give the city additional financial resources to adequately compensate its first responders, employees, and better provide its basic city services.

Another change I will make – which will help the city expand its tax base and meet its budgetary constraints above – is advocate for an Economic Development Committee on the Statesville City Council. There has never been a Statesville City Council committee devoted to economic development to my knowledge. As much as we spend on Iredell County Economic Development, I cannot understand why Statesville family incomes are half of Mooresville’s, why our public schools are so much worse than Mooresville’s, and why our poverty rate is twice as high as Mooresville’s and that of Iredell County. In 2018, Statesville appropriated more than $500,000 to Iredell County Economic Development yet our family incomes are only about $1,000 per year more than Harmony, $9,000 per year less than Troutman, and $38,000 per year less than Mooresville. We must re-examine our plan for Statesville economic development, how it affects our citizens, determine why Statesville is so far behind, and make a plan to move our citizens and our city forward.

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

The biggest challenges I see are related to the budget and spending, economic development, schools and education, jobs, crime, and poverty. We have workforce challenges that relate to our labor supply, wages, workforce development, training and education, and excessive regulation. And, as I walk through Ward 4 and meet with our citizens and neighbors, one of the first things I ask them about is their concerns.

As I meet our Ward 4 constituents at their door, they do not understand why their taxes have to go up, why they now pay a stormwater fee, and why we are unable to pay a competitive wage for our police, fire, and sanitation services. As I meet the Statesville citizens of Ward 4, they are concerned that Statesville is not keeping up with nearby and similar cities. The census tells us that the Statesville median family income has fallen about $4,000 since 2010, while other close-by and similar cities have experienced an increase in median family incomes. Today, the median family income in Statesville is about $43,000, while in Mooresville it is $81,000 and Iredell County as a whole is $68,000. Statesville should at the very least be on-par with Iredell County.

Many of the citizens I speak with are surprised to hear that over one-third of Statesville families make less than $25,000 per year or $12 per hour or less. Many are surprised that Statesville’s #2 industry after manufacturing is retail sales, and about 25% of Statesville families live under the poverty level. When Statesville incomes are so low, it has a domino effect throughout our community that negatively impacts local businesses, downtown Statesville retailers and restaurants, property values, and the city’s ability to generate revenue through property taxes. All these collectively diminish our local government’s ability to adequately provide the most basic services for its citizens. We can and must serve our citizens better.

I will bring my business knowledge, public service knowledge, and passion for Statesville to the city council and help address these concerns. The way we solve many of the economic and social problems we face and raise Statesville family incomes is by building coalitions that recruit high demand, high skill, and high wage jobs. We will work together in a collaborative effort which involves the Statesville mayor, city council, economic developers, county commissioners, chambers of commerce, and most importantly the citizens of Statesville. In addition to recruiting and retaining our jobs, we will regain our priorities and focus on providing our basic city services to our citizens: police and fire protection, clean water and processing wastewater, recreational opportunities like the Statesville greenway, community and downtown support, and, perhaps most importantly, expanding the Statesville tax base which will take property tax pressure off current home owners.

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

Statesville has so many amazing qualities which make it such a wonderful place to live, work, and play. I am impressed with the renaissance of the downtown central business district and it is a joy to see our citizens, Mitchell students, even tourists walking the beautifully landscaped streets and sidewalks, visiting the different restaurants and retailers, and enjoying the experience and atmosphere. Maintaining a healthy downtown is critical for Statesville’s sustained prosperity. We can improve the downtown – for both the businesses and consumers – with more parking. I have heard from business owners in Ward 4 who are frustrated with the lack of parking downtown. Another concern is that downtown property values are decreasing according to the city’s 2019-2020 budget. We must work to reverse that trend, encourage private sector investment to rehab and repurpose downtown buildings, find cost-effective and alternative downtown parking solutions, and attract even more patrons to the many wonderful downtown retailers and restaurants.

Another incredibly positive attribute for Statesville is the emergence of a prolific and civically active arts community, and the Iredell County Arts Council for example is doing amazing outreach throughout the community. In Statesville’s 2009 Master Plan, the city identified the area just south of downtown on Center Street as a location for Statesville’s “Arts District,” a plan which was unfortunately never implemented because of the recession of 2008. We need to revisit that plan and move it forward. The Gordon family of Statesville recently took one of the first private-sector steps in moving the Arts plan forward by conceiving and implementing a plan to restore a downtown building into the New Playhouse which will be a venue for live music, theater, plays, and other arts events. We want to encourage similar private sector investment in redevelopment projects which will not only restore and repurpose blighted and abandoned downtown buildings, but will also help attract dynamic, bright individuals and families to live in Statesville. A healthy arts scene is a critical piece of framework for the town’s identity and overall prosperity.

Community amenities are “quality of life” issues, and Statesville’s greenway is such a wonderful community/recreational amenity that many citizens have told me enhances their quality of life. We need to move forward with the plan of expanding and connecting our greenway. Not only is our greenway an amazing recreational attraction for our citizens, but there is also an economic impact which relates to job creation in construction and maintenance, as well as the potential for more tourism-related opportunities as visitors to Statesville stay at our hotels, shop at our retailers, and dine at our restaurants. In fact, a National Park Service study showed the economic impact of a community greenway which relates to the creation of trail-related jobs, and the expansion of existing businesses related to travel, equipment, clothes, food, souvenirs, and maps. Expanding Statesville’s greenways will create jobs, energize local businesses, while protecting and preserving open, natural space for conservation and recreation purposes.

Why should voters choose you?

The citizens of Ward 4 I have met in their homes or place of business believe in our shared vision for a better, stronger, and more prosperous Statesville. The citizens of Ward 4 want progress, not stagnation and regression. The citizens of Ward 4 want a better future for their children and grandchildren. Parents in Ward 4 have told me they hope the city will recruit meaningful and higher paying job opportunities should their children want to come back to Statesville to live and work after their education. I have heard the citizens of Ward 4 and I will never stop fighting for their interests, their benefits, and their continuous forward momentum.

I will provide leadership which is always objective, analytical, compassionate, and strong. I will unite the divided city council, and bring both sides together in the pursuit of common solutions which solve our common problems. Walking through our neighborhoods in Ward 4 and visiting with the citizens and business owners of Statesville has taught me that, as much as we tend to focus on the things that divide us, the things we have in common are so much more profound. I will always listen to the citizens of Ward 4, I will always hear their concerns, and my actions will always be guided by the input I receive from constituents.

I believe in Statesville, our potential, and our incredibly bright future with every fiber of my being. I believe in the families and businesses which makes Statesville so special. I believe in our shared core values and community spirit. I believe in working hard, I am focused on the community issues, focused on solving our common problems, and I will always work hard and fight for the well-being and continued advancement of the citizens of Statesville. Whether or not I am elected to city council, I will never stop fighting and advocating for public policy that strengthens the social and economic fabric of our community, and I will not stop until the job is done.

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

My main goal serving on Statesville City Council is to create the greatest amount of benefit for the greatest number of citizens in Ward 4. My campaign has clearly defined its plan of action which begins with the three Rs:

  1. Restore Statesville’s image
  2. Recruit new employers and community partners
  3. Retain local businesses and families

The plan is designed to strengthen the economic and social fabric of our community and increase the quality of life for the citizens of Statesville. Statesville’s poverty rate is 26%, twice that of Iredell County and the state of North Carolina. Over one-third of Statesville families make only $25,000 per year or less, which is $12 per hour or lower. My goal is to bring as many Statesville families out of poverty as possible by encouraging the private sector to create more meaningful, higher paying job opportunities. The median family income in Statesville is $43,000 which is about half of Mooresville’s. Median family incomes in Statesville have decreased since 2010, while family incomes in other similar and near-by towns have increased. My goal is to increase Statesville family incomes by focusing on Statesville economic development which aggressively recruits new private sector employers and retains existing employers and families.

When we recruit new employers, we are able to expand the Statesville tax base which will take property tax pressure off of current home owners and businesses. When we recruit new employers and new industry, it gives our city government greater financial resources to pay its policemen, firemen, and sanitation workers a competitive wage so that we do not lose those hard-working men and women to other near-by, more prosperous cities. It allows us to have a fully-staffed, professionally trained police and fire department which can more effectively stop crime and increase community safety. It allows us to pay for our many capital improvements and other budgetary needs, like buying new trucks and equipment to replace those that are old, worn out, and in a constant state of disrepair. It allows us to invest in community amenities such as our greenway, parks, and other recreational opportunities that preserve our open and green spaces.

Other goals include finding cost-effective, alternative parking solutions for our downtown businesses and consumers, expanding and connecting our greenways, revisiting and implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Master Plan – such as the development of an Arts District – which were abandoned because of the great recession, and creating a city council committee devoted to Statesville economic development.

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

I have served in elected leadership roles for local, state, and national trade groups fighting for policy that addresses housing affordability. I was appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger to serve on the Housing Partnership Board of Directors which oversees, establishes policy, and allocates funding for the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund. The Housing Trust Fund, appropriated by the General Assembly, is North Carolina’s most flexible housing resource, as well as the largest source of financing for supportive housing and emergency repairs or accessibility modifications.

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

I enjoy running on the greenway, through town, and through Mac Anderson Park. I mentioned the renaissance of our downtown central business district and it is wonderful to see our citizens and even tourists visiting our many vibrant shops, retailers, and restaurants. My favorite things to do downtown are to get a jalapeno beer at Red Buffalo, a coffee at Sky Mountain, go to the Friday After Five concerts, and I love the bike races downtown, the Statesville Criterium. I also enjoy giving back to the community through volunteer work, and have volunteered and contributed to many Statesville organizations that help those that are less fortunate, impoverished, or disadvantaged in some way.

Compare and contrast yourself to your opponent(s).

I will not attempt to characterize any other candidate, but only speak for myself and articulate my hopes, my goals, and my vision for Statesville, which I hope I have adequately done here. I will work hard for Statesville and for the citizens of Ward 4. I will work harder than anyone else to accomplish my hopes and goals, and I will do whatever it takes to realize the vision of a better, stronger, more prosperous Statesville.

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