Weddington candidates discuss VFD, development

WEDDINGTON – There will be a new mayor in Weddington when elections come to an end Nov. 5, and two incumbent council members face challengers in their district in a race that could change the face of Weddington Town Council.
Mayor Walker Davidson opted not to run for reelection this year, while incumbents Werner Thomisser in District 1 and Dan Barry in District 3 each seek four more years on council.
Each candidate was asked the same four questions and responded through email.  Some candidates’ answers were shortened due to space restraints, and one question was held.  See complete answers to all four questions, as well as last week’s article on the Stallings election, online at www.unioncountyweekly.com.  Find out more information about these candidates and other candidates from western Union County towns in future issues.

Weddington Mayor

Bill Deter

515-326-5584

deter4mayor@gmail.com

www.facebook.com/pages/Deter4mayor/164080197114845

 

Relevant experience: My business career has been in consumer products where I have held various senior executive positions with two Fortune 500 companies.  I currently teach business courses at Pfeiffer University as an adjunct instructor.  I also serve as vice-chairman on the Waybridge Homeowners’ Association.

Education: BS, University of South Carolina; MBA Drake University

Family: I have been married for 43 years to my wife Kitty.  We have one son and a 5-year-old grandson who live in the Charlotte area.

Years lived in Weddington: My wife and I have lived in Weddington for six years.

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election?

My goal is to have Weddington maintain its rural residential environment as we manage growth in our area.  This same goal has also been expressed repeatedly by voters on town surveys.  I feel that our current elected officials are ignoring this input from the voters.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department to acquire its property in return for much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities. Do you agree with town council’s decision to pursue this agreement? If not, what would you have done?

Yes, rather than just giving money away I support the concept of our town gaining an asset in exchange for assisting the Providence Volunteer Fire Department with their current financial issue.  Of course the devil is in the details.  I have already voiced my concerns in the Union County Weekly about the lack of transparency from the town council with this process.  There has also been some discussion about locking the town into a long-term contractual commitment for fire service, and I am opposed to that.  Our town currently gets service from three fire departments and since public safety is paramount to our citizens we must insure effective and efficient service now and in the future.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town? Please explain.

No.  There is already 7.5 million square feet of commercial/retail within 15 minutes of Weddington.  Voters have told town leaders time and time again that they want to protect our residential concept of one house per acre or the equivalent and restrict commercial development to the town center.

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in the coming years?   

In addition to the two issues already mentioned (public safety and commercial development), we need to focus on fiscal responsibility.  I believe in small government and low taxes.  Our town budget for the coming fiscal year is projected to be a deficit while at the same time our leaders have given themselves a 20 percent pay increase.

 

Scott Robinson

704-776-8024

scott@robinson4weddington.com

robinson4weddington.com

Relevant experience:  I am an experienced and effective community and business leader.  During the three years I was president of the Providence Woods Homeowners’ Association we ran a balanced budget each year and were able to add to our reserves while addressing the desires of the majority of property owners.  I have served on the board of Providence Volunteer Fire Department and am currently vice-president.  I have worked closely with the town government to ensure that our citizens receive first response assistance on a 24 x 7 x 365 basis from the fire department that can arrive most quickly at their homes.  I have 23 years of business management experience ranging from IBM to small and medium sized companies.  I have managed organizations of up to 50 individuals and been accountable for budgets and profit and loss.  I have been responsible for relationships with hundreds of clients and negotiated contracts with state and city governments, school districts and public authorities as well as numerous commercial enterprises.

Education:  B.A. in Political Science, Case Western Reserve University; John Handley High School, Winchester, Va.

Family:  Married to Patricia for over 30 years; son Erik, 12 years old

Years lived in Weddington:  Ten; a total of 26 in the Charlotte area

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election?

I want to foster and lead a town government that is fair, balanced and open—that honestly values and listens to the voices and opinions of everyone in the community.  Weddington’s citizens deserve a mayor who leads and manages a town government, which works to make decisions in the interest of all of Weddington.  I strongly believe that I can bring a focus on communications, collaboration, community, consensus and “win-win” to our town government.  I would be greatly honored if Weddington’s citizens place their trust and confidence in me to work toward this vision.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department is acquire its property in return for funding for much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities. Do you agree with town council’s decision to pursue this agreement?  If not, what would you have done?

I support this.  Providence VFD is the centrally located, primary provider of emergency services to Weddington.  Providence VFD has worked with town leaders to ensure high quality service and rapid response to Weddington’s citizens. The renovations will allow Providence VFD to continue to have staff on site at the station around the clock.  This ensures the quickest response to emergency calls.  In return for providing the financing for the renovations the town will become full owner of the Providence VFD buildings and land, which after improvements will have an assessed value far above the town’s financial investment.  The town will have control over the facilities’ future use and of emergency service delivery to its citizens.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town? Please explain.

No, I do not believe Weddington’s leaders need to seek out commercial development.  It is occurring just outside of the town’s limits, such as Marvin Town Centre on Rea Road and the proposed large mixed-use project at Providence Road and Ardrey Kell.  Weddington is primarily a residential community offering a peaceful, safe environment for its citizens.  It has a unique rural character worth preserving. Developers can and will bring specific proposals for commercial projects to Weddington.  Town leaders can evaluate those and assess if the proposed development would benefit the town as a whole.

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in the coming years?

The most significant challenge town leaders must deal with going forward is planning for and managing Weddington’s growth while balancing the rights of property owners with the needs and desires of the town as a whole.  As Weddington grows town leaders will need to work closely with county, regional and state authorities to ensure that the town’s infrastructure can support the growth.  Weddington cannot and should not try to be all things to all people.  Our leaders will need to manage growth while preserving those things important to our citizens.

 

Weddington Town Council District 1

 

Werner Thomisser

704-654-6100

thomisser@aol.com

Relevant experience: Four years on the Weddington Town Council, and six years prior to that as an activist for Weddington issues

Education: BS in Business Administration, The Citadel; Active duty U.S. Marines, 1st Lt.

Family: Wife, Mary; two children, four grandchildren

Years lived in Weddington: 11

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election?

Experience matters. I am committed to serving Weddington for a second term because I want to share the experience and knowledge gained over the past 10 years as a community activist and member of the Weddington Town Council. I have demonstrated an ability to get things done as evidenced by 24/7 staffing for fire and emergency first responders at our fire stations, traffic light and ambulance procurement. A recent survey, completed earlier this year, indicated that 97.4 percent of residents felt public safety, consisting of fire, police and EMS, was their most important concern.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department to acquire its property in return for much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities. Do you agree with town council’s decision to pursue this agreement? If not, what would you have done?

As stated above, public safety is our resident’s most important concern. Fire suppression and first responder emergency medical services are under that umbrella. Overnight staffing requires our firefighters and medical first responders to be at the station. The Union County Fire Marshal indicated that the station must be brought up to code. Therefore, the renovations are necessary. I agree with the town council’s decision to pursue this agreement. The town will own an asset, which is the fire station and the land after the renovations are completed.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town? Please explain.

Last week’s announcement of a $200 million upscale mixed-use project featuring single-family homes, town homes, retail space including a grocery store and apartments will be located two miles from the Weddington Town Hall in Mecklenburg County at the intersection of Ardrey Kell and Providence Road. Weddington residents have indicated that preserving our rural character is very important and that Weddington is a “bedroom” community for Charlotte. I do not intend to disturb this “sea of tranquility.”

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in the coming years?   

Residential growth is inevitable. Residents move here for low taxes, great schools, rural character and open space. It will be very important that we meet these challenges, which I intend to accomplish having the experience, knowledge and most important political courage.

 

Don Titherington

704-904-8053

dontitherington@carolina.rr.com

 

Relevant Experience: Regional Director of Sales for an international corporation with extensive experience in budgeting, contract negotiation, personnel and revenue management; involved with WCWAA since 2000 in a variety of roles; past board member of Providence Woods South Homeowners’ Association; and current assistant Cubmaster of Weddington Pack 99.

Education: BA, Wake Forest University

Family: Happily married to my wife, Rebecca, for 20 years.  Three sons who attend Weddington High and Weddington Elementary.

Years lived in Weddington: We have lived in Weddington since 1998 and plan to retire here.

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election?

I am running to represent the vision of Weddington’s citizens.  We need to eliminate personal wishes and visions from the town council’s current decision-making process.   As a result of each town survey over the past 10 years, and public comments at town council meetings, it is clear that the majority of citizens value Weddington’s rural character and want residential growth that aligns with the towns’ current R40 and RCD policies while limiting any future commercial development to Weddington’s current town center at Hwy 16/Hwy 84.

I support our residents’ vision and if elected will work to strengthen the current land-use plan to implement that vision.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department to acquire its property in return for funding much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities.  Do you agree with Town Council’s decision to pursue this agreement?  If not, what would you have done?

The firefighters and EMS personnel in Providence, Stallings and Wesley Chapel have provided wonderful service to the citizens of Weddington.  It is important that the town work with these departments to structure service that provides the best value to the town, while ensuring the long-term success of these departments.

Currently the town council is considering committing $750,000 to $1 million of our residents’ money to buy the fire department buildings.  A thorough review of multiple options should be undertaken in a transparent process, with public comment, before any commitments are made.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town?  Please explain.

Unequivocally NO!  Citizens have been clear that they value open space, low-density housing and wish to minimize traffic congestion.  Additional commercial or mixed/use outside of our current town center (Hwy 16/Hwy 84) is counter to the wishes of the majority of our citizens.

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in coming years?

• Controlling growth.

• Keeping our low tax rate.

• Balancing Weddington’s budget.  The current town council approved a budget deficit of $170,000.

• Managing the Rea Road Extension process so that it does not jeopardize the safety of the 700+ drivers that visit our school cluster each day.

• Encouraging public involvement at town meetings. I would reverse the decision made by the current town council to limit citizens’ ability to speak on a subject.

 

Weddington Town Council District 3

 

Daniel Barry

704-292-5869

barry4council@windstream.net

 

Relevant experience: Currently serving as Mayor Pro Tem and liaison to Union County Public Works; former alternate delegate to the Mecklenburg – Union Planning Organization (MUMPO); former delegate to the Western Union County Coalition; former treasurer of Lake Providence Homeowners’ Association. Nationally I have served on several industry-related boards of directors and served two terms as president of a national philanthropic in support of individuals with severe disabilities.  Lifelong Republican.

Education:  Myers Park High School; the Asheville School; and graduated from the College of Charleston with a degree in political science and minors in global studies and international economics.

Family: Married to Leslie; three children – Ford, Jill and William

Years lived in Weddington: Nine years

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election? 

a) Provide steady, experienced and thoughtful leadership on issues affecting the entire town.

b) To preserve the rural character of our community

c) To protect Weddington’s low tax rate by maintaining very disciplined spending parameters

d) To protect high property values

e) Continue work as Public Works liaison to build needed utility infrastructure to meet the demands of homeowners.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department is acquire its property in return for funding for much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities. Do you agree with town council’s decision to pursue this agreement?  If not, what would you have done?

I agree and support this approach as it protects the balance sheet of the town and the Weddington taxpayers.

The current council makes public safety its number one concern.  The first vote I cast was to fund 24/7 staffing at the Providence VFD to protect the citizens of Weddington.  With coverage being staffed accordingly the building needs to be brought up to code per the fire marshal. My goal is to assure that the balance sheet of the town and taxpayers is made whole. The process we are engaged in will provide the necessary modifications, protecting our fire fighters and the town will end up owning the building and property.  This is a win – win, for our fire fighters and our taxpayers.   As a reminder this approach received unanimous support from the town council.

Once the Providence VFD Station is up to code, we must aggressively pursue positioning an Ambulance, EMT and Paramedics at the Providence VFD.  Currently a MEDIC is located on New Town Road.  Positioning this service in Weddington will provide better response times to our citizens and greater coverage for western Union County.  Quick Response times are critical in life and death situations.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town? Please explain.

Weddington is a great place to live and raise a family.  All of us want to protect what we have come to love, the rural character, beautiful vistas, low tax rates and great schools.  I do not believe that the elected leaders need to recruit development activities.  I see no need for large-scale commercial developments in the town limits.  If individuals and property owners approach the town, we need to look at each project on its merits.  We need to be aware that residential development occurs by right.  When all we provide is one-acre lots, then sooner or later we will lose the natural areas and vistas that we love.  Proper planning needs to take place so that property rights are protected, and fosters those traits we love about Weddington.

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in the coming years?

The next big issue is infrastructure. We must engage our partners in the county and region to assure that we have appropriate road, water and sewer, power and natural gas.  Have you noticed home building has heated?  Families like what we have and others want to be here.  This will continue to put stress on our schools, on our roads, on water and sewer and other infrastructure.  We can’t stop development so we must be prepared for what comes.  These decisions need to be made now, not after the homes are built.

 

Michael Smith

704-246-8608

Michaelsmith4council@gmail.com

Relevant experience: I have been serving for 2 ½ years on the Town of Weddington Public Safety Committee, and I’m currently the chairman of that committee.  I retired after 26 years of service as a Delaware State Trooper.  During my tenure in law enforcement I was assigned to the Patrol Division, and the Detective Division where I worked in the White Collar Crime Unit, Burglary Unit and the Youth Aid Unit as a school resource officer.  I also served six years as volunteer fireman.

Education: Delaware Technical College, majoring in criminal justice; Wilmington University, majoring in criminal justice

Family: I’ve been married to my wife Anna-Marie for 16 years.  We have a son who lives in Matthews and a daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren who live in Oregon.

Years lived in Weddington: My family and I have lived in Weddington for three years.

What is the No. 1 reason you are running for election? 

To support and promote Weddington’s rural character and low density residential housing development. I want to carry out these desires of the community, which have been clearly voiced in several surveys and ignored by this current council.

Weddington Town Council is currently in discussions with the Providence Volunteer Fire Department is acquire its property in return for funding for much-needed renovations to the fire department’s facilities. Do you agree with town council’s decision to pursue this agreement?  If not, what would you have done?

I am a strong supporter and understand the importance of public safety in our community.  I’m not opposed to exploring this option further; however, I’m not in favor of creating a situation that would create an undue tax burden on the town’s residents.

Should Weddington leaders be doing more to lure in commercial development to the town? Please explain.

No, the town’s residents have clearly stated in past surveys that they do not want commercial expansion beyond what is now available, and I support this opinion.

What are some other issues you feel town leaders should focus on in the coming years?

Public safety, implementing the voters desire for low density residential housing and limiting commercial growth to the town center.  I also believe in limited government and the need for proper management of the town’s limited resources.  I want to increase public involvement in the issues that affect our town and increase transparency in town government. Maintaining a low tax rate.

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