Election Preview: Stallings

Stallings needs to figure out sewer, town manager issues

STALLINGS – The soon-to-be-elected Stallings Town Council will have a number of big issues on tap when it is seated in December, including hiring a new town manager and settling questions about repairing and maintaining the storm water system outside of the right of way.

Stallings Town Manager Brian Matthews is now in a county position, and the town has made due with an interim manager while it starts looking to fill the position long-term. But the current council recently voted to delay the start of a nation-wide search for a new manager in order to let the new council – which could include four new council members and will include a new mayor – make those decisions on a position that will help direct future town growth and programs.

The town also has to soon address the issue of storm water repairs following the completion of a study currently taking place on what repairs are needed throughout the town.  The funds currently in the storm water reserve are not adequate to cover all of the necessary repairs, and some council members have discussed pulling money from the general fund for the project.

Current council member Wyatt Dunn and former council member Al Graham are running for the mayor seat being vacated by incumbent Lynda Paxton; James Arnette, Regis Griffin and Rick Widmann are running for council District 1; Rocky Crenshaw and Mayor Pro Tem Reed Esarove are running for council District 2; Sergio Carrera and Walter Kline are running for council District 3; and Deborah Romanow is running unopposed for council District 6.

Crenshaw did not respond to a request for comment from Union County Weekly by press deadline.

Find more information about Stallings candidates and their stances on local issues at www.unioncountyweekly.com by searching “Stallings Election.”

Stallings Mayor

Wyatt Dunn

Dear citizens of Stallings, I want to thank you for electing me to the town council for the past eight years. I believe I have served you with integrity and with your best interests at heart. I would like to continue serving you as your mayor. I believe I possess the personal characteristics of honesty and professionalism that will represent our town well. I believe the quality of life in Stallings is great, and I want to keep it that way and with it keep our taxes low and spending under control. My voting record is one of putting the citizens of Stallings first and doing what is best for you. The investment we have made in our homes and family to live in Stallings is priceless and needs to be protected, and I believe I can continue to do that for the town of Stallings and you. I made a promise to the voters in 2005 that I would never vote for a tax increase and I’ve kept that promise. Thank you again for your support for the past eight years, and I hope I have your vote for mayor on Nov. 5. God Bless!

Al Graham

More than 30 years of experience operating my own business; extensive involvement the past 13 years with town planning, zoning and permitting; four years on the Stallings Town Council; and my active engagement in town government for more than eight years will help me move Stallings forward. I commit to leading an open, transparent town council that will work equally for all six districts and welcome the input of all Stallings residents and businesses. Further, I commit to a focus on conservative spending habits that stay within current revenues. As a council member, I led two tax decreases while also increasing levels of service provided to residents. I intend to continue this trend by helping further enhance current business opportunities, ensuring town funds are used to benefit taxpayers and exploring new sources of revenue that will ultimately lead to future tax cuts. Over the past four years, our town has seen no tax relief while the town budget has increased due to misdirected and excessive spending. I commit to leading Stallings in a new direction. Please vote Al Graham for Stallings Mayor, Reed Esarove – District 2, Sergio Carrera – District 3 and write-in Jason Gurian – District 6. Help Stallings realize the bright future it deserves.

Stallings Town Council District 1

James Arnette

As we look to elect our new council members, I wish to broaden my role in the town of Stallings. Through my work, my church and my community, I have the experience to help lead this town to a better future. I have worked locally for more than 20 years in the information technology industry. Working for both local and global business, I have an insight into the relevant issues that impact our community. I have served on many committees and the deacon board at my local church, all seeking to serve our community and our church members. I have gotten to know many in the community by volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Feed My Starving Children, Urban Ministry Center, Salvation Army Center of Hope, YWCA and Carolina Thread Trail. As a member of the Stallings Town Council, I will use the experiences to continue serving this community.

Regis Griffin

Many candidates running for office use words like ethics, integrity, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness. For most of them, those are just buzzwords they use in trying to win votes in an election. However, for me, these are the characteristics that guided me during my eight years of prior elected service. During that time, in Pennsylvania, I worked hard to protect residents’ interests and to ensure that the town’s elected and appointed officials operated in an efficient, ethical and transparent manner. I did this by implementing safeguards to protect taxpayers’ investments and by establishing checks and balances to ensure ethical government operations. This was accomplished by my ability to lead the town through a major administrative and operational reorganization. Again, I am running simply so that I can contribute to my community. The best way for me to do that is to use my eight years of experience to benefit the residents of Stallings. I am an independent leader who is objective and open-minded, and who has experience and a proven track record. If this is the type of leader you would like on our council, I would appreciate your vote for District 1 on Nov. 5!  Thank you.

Rick Widmann

In a world full of electronic sound bites, winning at any cost, more government programs and downright disregard for our fellow man by lawmakers, its time to take back our future with responsible leadership – leadership that works for us, not the politics of the moment. It is important that we protect our freedoms under the constitution. Each one of us has the right to the pursuit of our ambition and happiness. Respect for each other and the dignity to manage our own lives are virtues that should be honored by our government, not regulated with another law. Taxation is not the remedy to fund budgets and budget increases. It is a vehicle that dampens growth and places families with burdens that are not necessary or productive. Opportunities exist to generate revenue without taxing the wallet of each of us. It requires a different look at the issues. Respect the value of each person and not business/government as usual. We are better than that. There is strength in working as a team/community. Each one of us has the ability to achieve great things. Let that happen. We don’t need the weight of more government programs/regulation/taxation, we need the freedom to live our lives.

Stallings Town Council District 2

Reed Esarove

I believe that as your representative on the Stallings Town Council for the last four years, it is my responsibility to listen to the citizens and apply what I have learned in the way that I vote. I have demonstrated this by leading council to executing a solid waste agreement that saved the town more than $1 million over seven years, keep Recycle Bank to allow the citizens of our town to make money from recycling, voted to keep our police department and consistently voted in accordance to the opinions of the citizens in the town survey. I am an independent thinker and look for the compromise in most situations. Some issues are black and white but many others require input from the public and considerable thought. I am conservative in my approach to most things. I do believe that we need to have a plan to guide our growth and development, one that will enhance the personality of our town. I have voted repeatedly to do just that and will continue to do so if re-elected. We need to evaluate our current infrastructure in order to improve existing quality of life. I commit to continue to listen and carry out your ideas and desires above all. I ask for your vote for re-election to the District 2, town of Stallings Council seat. Thank you for your support!

Stallings Town Council District 3

Sergio Carrera

I am running for the open seat in the town of Stallings Council District 3 because I believe the town can be run more efficiently by amicable discussions of issues among council members. Due to my background, I have always been able to work well with different kinds of individuals by adhering to mutual respect and understanding. Throughout my career in law enforcement, I learned to acquire all the facts before making a decision that could affect others, and I have worked with budgets and the need to remain committed to guidelines. Then as a business owner, I had the opportunity to employ wonderful people who I was able to encourage to work to their highest potential. I strongly believe that the town of Stallings, although already a nice place to live, can be better with proper funding. I have seen other surrounding towns increase their tax base by getting family-oriented businesses to come in and set up. On the negative side, Stallings has a real and pending problem with the sewer system, it will need a strong and cohesive council to make the necessary decisions to correct it. If elected, I will work hard to bring new revenue and opportunities to the town of Stallings.

Walter Kline

My name is Walter Kline, and I’m committed to making your voice heard on the Stallings Town Council. There comes a point in one’s life where we must be willing to serve our community. I want to play an active role in making our community a safe, better place to raise our children, to live our lives and forge a future filled with unlimited promise. I have used three basic foundational ideas as my platform: government that benefits all; government that lives within its means; government of the people.

Stallings Town Council District 6

Deborah Romanow

Serving – that is what this election is about – serving!  We have had enough years of people being active at all levels of government – local, state and national – only to pursue their own agenda. Having served for 12 years on the planning board, I want to serve in a different capacity. I have seen just about every request for development in the town of Stallings for 12 years and now I would like to serve on the council. Having served in the classroom for 30 years working with students and parents, I feel qualified to serve in the capacity of councilwoman. I will serve faithfully and with integrity. When people think of me, I want them to think of a public servant, not a politician. I want the community to feel comfortable and safe telling me what they think about an issue, knowing that I will listen and consider their perspective. There are many challenges facing the new council that will be seated in December, but I feel confident I am prepared to handle any challenge that will come our way. I will be there to serve, not be served. I ask for your vote on Nov. 5. Thank you!

The following coverage is from this election season in Stallings:

From September 13:

Candidates discuss storm water, future town manager

STALLINGS – With elections less than two months away, Union County Weekly is continuing to give western Union County residents a chance to learn more about the candidates in their towns.

This week, Union County Weekly reached out to the two mayoral and eight town council candidates in Stallings to discuss storm water, the new town manager, future growth and more.

Town council candidates Rocky Crenshaw in District 2 and Sergio Carrera in District 3 did not respond by Union County Weekly’s print deadline on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at noon.
Stallings Mayor

Stallings Mayor

 

Wyatt Dunn

704-882-3310

mwdunn@carolina.rr.com

WyattDunn.com

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

The criteria to be used should be determined by the impact storm water has on citizen’s personal property or on town owned property such as streets.  The current council voted to have a storm water impact study to prioritize areas that need repair and to develop a financial criteria.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial?

The future development of Stallings will be focused on the U.S. 74 corridor and downtown.  Both areas have been under study or have been improved.  My vision is to keep taxes low and to provide a high quality of life to raise a family and attract new businesses.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

The personal qualities of town manager I’m looking for is a person of integrity willing to serve our citizens.  If he/she has these personal characteristics then I’m looking for a person with planning experience blended with business background.  Knowledge of all state and local statutes covering municipalities should be required.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

1. Continue my eight-year pledge to the citizens of Stallings that I will not vote for any tax increase.  The citizens of Stallings pay enough taxes, and we need to control spending.

2. Continue the transparency of all town activities and spending that has been developed over the past eight years that benefits every citizen.  Currently, we have a transparent government in Stallings, and I do not want to return to the days of back room deals that benefit a few.

3. Continue the development of the U.S. 74 corridor and downtown to bring in revenue and improve our quality of life.  However, infrastructure development must be done with other municipalities as well as with federal and state money.

 

Al Graham

704-882-4223

algraham@carolina.rr.com

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

Storm Water definition of responsibility is: If the water originates from any public area it is public responsibility, if the water originates from any private area it is not public responsibility, regardless of right of way. Existing right of way is not the issue but needs to be considered before any repairs are made.  The criteria for repairs should be: if detrimental to life or property, age of needed repair, size of repair needed, location and the level of positive impact repair will make.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial?

With the boundaries mostly set in Stallings it is important the future development of every parcel of land, residential and commercial should be maximized as to the best use for potential of quality of life and tax revenues.  I support moving forward with the Potter and Pleasant Plains intersection improvement plan that includes the downtown master plan that supports commercial and residential growth.  The Monroe Road widening plan will also bring potential for commercial growth.  I support residential growth that includes high quality with reasonable density.  Moving forward with the current capital improvement plan for road projects, sidewalks and adjusting for future growth needs will put us on track to lower taxes in the future.  I will guide Stallings through a balanced commercial and residential growth plan that includes investing for return and lowers taxes.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

Two to five years working with budgeting, zoning, planning, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, municipal government, environmental, code enforcement, personnel, town boards, Centralina Council of Governments and law enforcement.  Good decision-making, multi-tasking and a high tolerance for stress, a full background, employment and education check.  Process will include a 30-day advertisement in at least three public formats, a diverse committee of five set up by council for review of applications and first interview and a list prepared for full council to conduct second interviews.  Final interviews will be conducted by full council.  Negotiations, offer and acceptance to be done by full council.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

1. Budget needs. I will move the town in a responsible direction for investing in Stallings’s future including roads improvements, storm water, sidewalks and residential and commercial projects.

2. Storm Water.  To get the town back on track with a responsible plan that includes compliance, project needs and future growth in a cost effective way not to burden residents or commercial property owners.

3. I assure all tax payers there will be an open door in Stallings for all concerns and ideas that will be addressed openly and fairly without fear of retaliation.

 

Stallings Town Council District 1

 

James Arnette

980-202-0402

james.arnette@gmail.com

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

Priority should be given to the repairs with the most critical needs.  This should include any repairs that concern the safety of our citizens and then the committee should evaluate the other repairs needed and rank them in order of severity.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial?

I feel the town should expand the commercial development in the town.  There needs to be a good balance between the commercial and residential expansion in Stallings.  Added commercial growth can meet the needs of our residents, provide new employment opportunities and add additional revenue without increasing taxes.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

Our new town manager will need budgetary and personnel experience to properly handle the day-to-day operations.  The council will need to find a suitable applicant that not only meets these requirements but who also understands our town and the people who live here.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

My main priorities will be expanding our commercial growth to provide additional employment opportunities and tax revenue and maintaining a balance budget.

 

Regis F Griffin

704-776-5204

griffrf@netzero.com

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues? 

I think the root cause for each occurrence needs to be identified.  If the root cause is tied back to the town, or water that originates from a public thoroughfare, then the town has an obligation to resolve the issue.  If the root cause is not town or resident caused then the town should assist in pursuing resolution by the appropriate party.   I also believe that if not fixing the problem now will cost taxpayers more significantly in the future, the problem should be repaired.  The storm water survey should be prioritized in order to resolve the most impactful situations first.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial? 

I think that one of the biggest challenges facing Stallings in the future will be the impacts from internal and external growth and new development.  While there may be geographical boundaries there is significant undeveloped land within the town limits.  I anticipate that over time those properties will see residential and commercial development.  The town leadership will need to have the foresight to anticipate the traffic, infrastructure, storm water, provided services, revenue and tax rate implications on the town and prepare and forecast for them accordingly to make sure we can support the future changes.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person? 

Being a municipal manager is a very important, difficult and demanding job.  Filling that role is one of council’s most important functions.  During my prior terms on council, I led the hiring process for a new manager on three separate occasions.  Beyond the technical and educational requirements, their most relevant quality will be their ability to exhibit how they have acted with integrity and in the highest ethical manner in order to create an environment of trust with both the public and the elected officials.  If council performs the recruiting and hiring role correctly it can set the town up for long-term success.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration? 

The upcoming election could potentially result in the electing of five new council members.  The hiring of a new manager, the storm water survey, funding and repair, the Union County property revaluation, and the annual budget development process will immediately face the new council.   If elected, my focus will be on using my eight years of prior council leadership experience to assist the new council members in navigating the processes, procedures and protocols required to successfully face these and other looming challenges, which will need to be immediately undertaken.

 

Rick Widmann

704-906-1930

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

I believe each situation is unique and should be evaluated based on the issues involved.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial? Consideration of growth, both residential and commercial, must be decided by our community. Each resident of Stallings has a right to vote on these types of issues.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

Integrity, leadership, to work with people and the ability to listen. Experience should include a solid education, management capability and sensitivity to each person’s importance in the community. The interview process should be transparent and open for everyone to see.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

1. No new taxes.

2. Reduce waste in government.

3. Add technology where it makes sense and cuts costs of doing business.

 

Stallings Town Council District 2

 

Reed Esarove

704-564-0211

resarove@council.stallingsnc.org

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

First, the issue of storm water repairs is not about repairs on “streets” outside the right of way.  The issue is about repairing and maintaining the storm water system outside of the right of way.  The system includes underground drainage pipes and ditches, which carry public water runoff.  These areas are typically behind or on the side of properties.  The town engineer and staff have already developed a ranking system for evaluating storm water issues.  The ranks are A, B or C.  “A” being the highest priority.  I believe that ranking system is what we should use to determine our annual budget for maintenance and repair.  Obviously we cannot repair all projects at once, but by determining the highest priority concerns, based on engineering evaluation and not political evaluation, we can systematically work to resolve our existing storm water problems and prepare for any future issues.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial? Stallings size in land area is the size we will be for years to come.  Recent annexation laws will make it difficult to grow in land area as well as our proximity to other municipalities.  This means that we will have to be diligent in our review and approval of the development of land in our town because there is only a limited amount of undeveloped property.  While commercial tax base is needed to help balance our tax base, we have to recognize that residential development is needed to support and attract commercial development.  I believe that the town should re-evaluate our existing land use plan to see if our vision for the future is attainable.  We should focus on working with the county to improve and install infrastructure in our commercial areas.  Redevelopment of existing commercial areas such as the U.S. 74 corridor will be important to increasing our commercial tax base.  As for residential development, we will need to consider density in those areas that are adjacent to commercial development.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

I believe that a manager for the town will need to have a strong background in planning and development.  Because we are essentially land locked, development of our very limited undeveloped land and redevelopment of existing commercial development is vital.  We will need to work closely with Union County to improve our existing water and sewer infrastructure and to install new infrastructure so this individual will need to have a good understanding of that development process.

As for how to select a candidate, I believe that the new council members should work together to identify the attributes they see as primary for the candidate and then develop a position announcement based on those attributes.  We should then work to develop a list of interview questions, which focus on those attributes to help weed out the candidates that are not the correct fit.  We may need assistance from the outside to help with this process, but regardless of that, I believe the new council should be involved with developing the elements of the process for it to be successful.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

1. Future, sustainable, quantifiable cost cutting measures.

2. Planned and sustained growth initiatives.

3. Continue to develop the downtown core and tax base of the town.

 

Stallings Town Council District 3

 

Walter Kline

wkline2@carolina.rr.com

www.walterkline.com

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

The town staff has completed the storm water system survey.  They are currently working on cost estimates for the work needed to remedy issues.  As this work is completed in the next 30 to 60 days the information required to make informed decisions on moving forward will be available to further discern.  It would appear that the basic criteria for prioritizing any work would consider cost, remediation of significant environmental impacts, benefit to citizens and safety.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial?

As I drive from my side of Stallings all the way to the other side, I see great opportunity for us as a town to shape a balanced commercial and residential plan.  We need to look beyond the immediate future of five to 10 years out more to 20 or 30 years.  Where do we vision our shopping hubs that attract our residents and surrounding communities to do business in Stallings?  There are various pockets of land that have the opportunity to be annexed into our town.  This is an initiative the new town manager with town council to create a town vision and strategy.  We then can ensure that we are prioritizing the resources for the capital improvements that are required to support that future growth.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

The basic qualifications are that they have the educational background with practical experience.  It would be beneficial that they have experience in developing strategic visions and plans with positive outcomes.  This correlates to the question for future development.  An issue we need to address overall as a town in building a sense of community across the various sections.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

1. Building a vision for Stallings that provides community across the various sections.

2. Long term economic and community strategy that supports the vision of what we want to be as a Town.

 

Stallings Town Council District 6

 

Deborah Romanow

704-941-1818

www.facebook.com/dromanow

 

Town staff has been conducting a survey of the storm water system throughout the town.  One of the questions that council will discuss is whether the town should be responsible for repairs on streets outside of the right of way.  What criteria should be used in determining priority for repairs of storm water issues?

Since the information of where the problems are has already been determined, I think you have to look for where the major challenges with storm water are.  How many people are affected by the problem?  What are the costs involved and would fixing the major problem eliminate other problems or create more?  There are many things to consider, and I am thankful that it would not be entirely up to me to solve the problem, but a team effort with the other members of the council.

 

Stallings has experienced considerable growth over the last few years in population, but the town has boundaries preventing growth geographically.  What is your vision for the future development for the town, both for residential and commercial?

I think that we need to look for opportunities to bring in businesses to the town.  Having been on the planning board in Stallings for almost 12 years, I have seen considerable numbers of businesses come before us for consideration.  The businesses are going to help keep our residential tax rates low as well as providing the residents with businesses to patronize.  I would like to see us bring in some nice apartment homes for our residents on more limited incomes.

 

One of the first tasks for the newly elected council will be to hire a new town manager.  What qualities and experience do you think is important for the new manager, and what measures should the council take when interviewing and selecting this person?

First of all, finding another great town manager will be a challenge.  Brian Matthews has been amazing, but it is a task that will need to be completed quickly and with clarity of purpose.  Qualities: honesty, integrity, knowledge of the job to be performed, with fair and kind management skills.  It doesn’t mean that the person has to have years and years of experience, but they need to have a foundation on which to build.

The council will have to generate a list of questions that would allow the person to tell us who they are, check on their references, select the top three candidates and then talk to staff for their input, since they have to work with the person daily, to make a decision regarding the person that will best fit our great town.

 

If elected, what are the top three initiatives you will bring to council for consideration?

I would like to see us think of businesses that we don’t have in Stallings and “court” those businesses to our town.  I would like to see the council get more involved with the community by assigning the council members to neighborhoods and if possible, attend their homeowner’s meetings thereby getting to know our residents better.  I would like to see the council continue on with integrity and transparency as we conduct the town’s business.

From August 2:

Stallings candidates discuss projects, taxes

STALLINGS – Election filing is closed and candidates are gearing up for Election Day on Nov. 5.  Five positions are open on the Stallings Town Council including the mayor and districts 1, 2, 3 and 6.  The only candidate running unopposed is Deborah Romanow in District 6.

This week, Union County Weekly is taking a quick look at the candidates in Stallings for the mayoral and town council elections. Each candidate was asked the same four questions and responded through email. District 3 candidate Sergio Carrera did not respond to questions. Some candidates’ answers were shortened due to space restraints and one question was held. Find out more information about these candidates and other candidates from western Union County towns in future issues.

Stallings Mayor

Wyatt Dunn
704-882-3310
mwdunn@carolina.rr.com
www.WyattDunn.com

Relevant experience:  Eight years on Stallings Town Council, two years mayor pro tem
Education:  BS in community and regional planning, Appalachian State; Independence High School, Mint Hill
Family: Wife, Terri, of 32 years; children Matthew, 29, Tyler, 26 (LT JG in U.S. Navy), Allie, 18 (graduate of Porter Ridge High School), grandson Keegan, 3 months old
Years lived in Stallings:  17 years, Mint Hill native

What is main reason you’re running for election?

After serving eight years as a Stallings councilman, I am running for Mayor.  This election is about a vision for Stallings, leadership, character and bringing common sense government to our town.  I have voted for and led two tax decreases during my terms on council and will continue to be very conservative when spending taxpayers’ money.  I believe in protecting our citizen’s rights and property while maintaining a high quality of life.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan (CIP) after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?

The CIP is a tool to control spending and manage growth.  The CIP allows for a transparent view on how our money will be spent in future years.  The next step is to manage the CIP conservatively and not allow unnecessary projects to drain our funds.  The goal is to do projects that are needed and benefit everyone in Stallings.  Stallings Municipal Park is an example of managing taxpayers’ money to do the project.  We spent too much money on unnecessary items on the park but overall it benefits Stallings as an economic development tool to draw commercial growth and to provide recreation.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

When I was elected in 2005 I promised the citizens of Stallings I would never vote for a tax increase and I’ve kept that promise.  The Stallings budget is too large and I voted for a 1 percent decrease in spending, but was in the minority.  Some of the projects have merit, like building sidewalks, but I do not support additions to town hall or renovating the civic building.  My opponent will try to make the Stallings Police Department an issue.  I support the Stallings PD and it is here to stay but their spending will be reviewed just like any other department.

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

As mayor of Stallings, other issues to focus on are managing storm water and recruiting businesses that provide jobs.  We need to keep our storm water fee the same and prioritize projects that affect our citizens.  We have been successful in recruiting businesses to Stallings and we must continue by keeping our infrastructure in good condition.  My vision for Stallings is to keep taxes low and focus on quality of life projects that benefit everyone.  I believe I’ve demonstrated the vision, leadership and character during the last eight years that you want in a mayor.  Thank you for your support in the last two elections and please get out and vote on Nov. 5.

 

Al Graham
704-882-4223
algraham@carolina.rr.com

Relevant experience: Four years Stallings Town Council, co-chair Stallings/Indian Trail joint storm water committee, 30 years business owner/operator in local area.  Thirteen years working with Stallings zoning and permitting on business and residential projects
Education: High School; two years business/economic, horticulture
Family: Wife, four daughters (two married), one grandson
Years lived in Stallings: 13

What is main reason you’re running for election?

To introduce a plan that includes future investment to our infrastructure that will enable the town to grow our tax base to offset future tax increases as costs increase.  To stop the tax-and-spend method we currently have. To repair a council that does not work for Stallings as a whole. To represent all residents of Stallings with concerns and ideas. To make Stallings a place businesses would like to invest in and help grow our economy.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan (CIP) after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?

The next step is eight years past due and the most important component of a CIP. Investment for return. The future investment of dollars for sewer in our business districts will enable the town to receive a return on spending. We need to partner with the county and state to achieve infrastructure goals.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without  an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

Eight years ago, Stallings had a fund balance of more than $5 million to be used for future growth or it should have been given back to the residents in a substantial tax reduction. The fund balance has been used more than once in the past eight years with only a small “token” tax reduction to residents. This was done for the purpose of future campaigning. I support using the fund balance for future growth projects that will give the town a return on investment. (Potter Road/Pleasant Plains intersection including storm water curb and gutter, sewer). I support the maintenance and public safety components of the CPI.   I do not support any tax increases in the future. With proper council guidance the town should be able to grow the tax base enough to support future controlled expenses and lower tax rates over time.

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

Town leaders should focus on repairing a governing body that can work for the future of all town residents. Leaders should work regionally with other jurisdictions and agencies to promote a good economic condition for Stallings. Future growth is limited and our government and expenses need to be, also.

 

Stallings Town Council
District 1

 

James Arnette
980-202-0402
james.arnette@gmail.com

Relevant experience: Deacon at Idlewild Baptist Church for six years and served as vice-chairman for the last year.  I have spent more than 20 years in the Information Technology field and am currently working at Bank of America
Education: BS in business administration from Bryan College, master’s of information technology from University of Phoenix
Family: Married to wife for 13 years and we have three small children
Years lived in Stallings: 12 years in Country Woods East

What is the main reason you’re running for election?


I heard there was an opening and wanted to serve the people of Stallings by taking part in the city council.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?

I think the capital improvement plan was a good step in meeting the needs of the town while managing expenses.  The next step is the follow through on the implementation of different projects in the plan and making sure we stay within the budget.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

From what I understand of the current town leader’s decision to pull from the fund balance, I feel this was the correct decision.  I would not vote for a tax increase to pay for these projects.

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

I think the main focus in the coming years should be on commercial growth in Stallings.  This would provide more jobs and taxable income from businesses.  This in turn would provide the funds needs to meet future capital improvements.

 

Regis Griffin
704-776-5204
griffrf@netzero.com

Relevant experience:  Served as a council member for eight years, five of those as president, on the Edgewood Borough Council in Pennsylvania.
Education:  Master’s degree in information science from the University of Pittsburgh and project management professional certification from the Project Management Institute.
Family:  Wife, Katherine
Years lived in Stallings: I’ve lived in North Carolina for three years and in Stallings for a year and a half.

What is the main reason you’re running for election?

I am running simply so I can contribute to my community.  The best way for me to do that is to use my eight years of experience as a municipal elected official to benefit the residents of Stallings.  As I hear the issues and residents’ concerns, I can relate practically every one back to a previous challenge that, through time, effort and desire I was able to solve.  Being an elected official at any level presents its challenges.  However, being in a position to help solve your neighbors’ issues and problems is very rewarding.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?

I believe that the leaders’ first step is to monitor the new plan to make sure it is going to be performed on time, on budget and deliver the expected results and benefits.  Once that is established, the next step will be to continue to develop the plan to identify capital improvement opportunities that increase quality of life, public safety and support revenue generating opportunities.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

As a candidate, and in practice in my previous elected position, increasing taxes is always the last resort.  I would not have supported a tax increase.  Using a fund balance, in effect the town’s unallocated reserve funds, to support a Capital Improvement Plan is wholly appropriate.  Council and the manager need to review the plan annually to ensure executing the plan does not negatively impact the financial stability of the town.  And, elected and appointed officials have the flexibility to adjust the plan based on new information and unforeseen circumstances.  Therefore, I feel that the town should move forward with the projects but be prepared to adjust the plan as necessary.

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

Much of my focus, while an elected official, was on establishing effective and efficient government services and accountable, ethical and transparent government.  I believe town leaders need to focus on removing situations where conflicts of interest can exist.  One current example is that the police chief currently reports to the town manager.  It is an inherent conflict for the police chief to report to another appointed or hired staff member.  The police chief needs to be independent and report directly to elected town officials.  I also believe town leaders need to ensure the town is on a sustainable fiscal path through planning, forecasting and responsible spending to ensure expenses stay in line with revenues to minimize the future need for tax increases.

 

Rick Widmann
704-906-1930
rwid5zkv@aol.com

Relevant experience: 30 years in management/leadership positions with National Gypsum Company and Fortune Brands.
Education: BS in business administration – Boston University’s College Of Business Administration; MBA – Western New England University’s School Of Management; JD – Western New England University’s School Of Law.
Family: Married.
Years lived in Stallings: Seven years

What is the main reason you’re running for election?
To provide a better quality of life for everyone.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?
Provide clear communication about the plan to all the residents to ensure the issues/proposals meet the requirements of the community.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without  an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.
Not in favor of tax increases to pay for these projects.

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

Cutting cost and waste in government, lowering taxes and improving efficiency and productivity.

 

Stallings Town Council
District 2

Rocky Crenshaw
704-882-3994
rcrenshaw3@windstream.net

Relavent experience: Worked for IBM for 21 years; employed with TTM/PRO-TEL for 15 years; and contracted to Bank of America
Education: Graduated from Independence High School; two years at Central Piedmont Community College
Family: Married to wife, Robin, for 30 years.

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

I have been president of the Stevens Mill neighborhood Board of Directors for about 10 years. During that 10 years we have made a lot of major improvements to our neighborhood without asking for any assistance from Stallings. I believe with proper planning, you can have projects and see them finished. All of our projects were completed without any increase to the homeowners’ dues.  This is planning. Our accomplishments have included: No increase in HOA dues in the past 10 years; built a park and picnic shelter; up-fit on our front entrance; added decorative/custom street, stop, speed limit, neighborhood information signs; added speed humps; and have had 100 percent HOA dues collected for 10 years.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?
Capital improvements are always good, if they can be completed without a major tax increase. There again (is needed) proper planning.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

I think if the citizens of Stallings don’t see any capital improvements, they like myself often wonder “What is all my tax dollars being spent on?” Any time you can show a sign of capital improvements or projects being completed as planned, in your town without a huge tax increase, this would tell me and most citizens that Stallings has a well-organized town council and planning board. There always has to be some fluff in the yearly budget for the unexpected. There is always ways of cutting back in the budget, to be able to complete well-planned projects/capital improvements without a tax increase. Yes, don’t ever start something and not finish it. This is failure.

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

Better planning, tighter budget, make some cuts in spending where possible and maintain a fair tax base for the taxpayers of Stallings.

 

Reed Esarove
704-564-0211
resarove@council.stallingsnc.org

Relevant experience: Current town council member
Education: B.S. in criminology from Florida State University
Family: Married to Tammy Esarove and have twin daughters and a younger son.
Years lived in Stallings: Approximately eight years

What is the main reason you’re running for election?
To continue the town’s future planning, maintain the current tax rate and to protect future investment in the community. Most importantly, preserving our citizens’ quality of life and build upon that whenever possible.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?
I think we should continue to adequately fund current projects and develop long-term project goals for infrastructure and economic development.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without  an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.
Yes, given the options available. No, I have not supported any tax increase in my four years of being on the council, and I will work to avoid any in the future. The projects have been funded by capital funds that the town has set aside for the last several years in order to accomplish these types of projects without a tax increase. The mark of good government is planning for the future with the resources that we have now.

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

This next four-year term is going to be very dynamic due to a number of issues this next council will face. Some of them being: storm water phase 2 permitting requirements, revaluation within Union County, the changes in revenue as well as local government authority from the General Assembly and infrastructure needs (water and sewer) for increased economic development. There are and will be other important topics but these are a few significant issues.

Stallings Town Council
District 3

Walter Kline
704-668-5449
wkline2@carolina.rr.com
www.WalterKline.com

Relevant experience:  U.S. Army Officer Veteran (Rank of Major).  Management experience in private sector working for Ford Motor Company, American Standard, CHC, Bank of America.  I have held positions of increased leadership and management responsibility to include profit and loss budget accountability.
Education:  Bachelor of science in manufacturing technology, master of arts in business
Family:  Karen, my wife of 24 years.  We have two daughters who are both pursuing college educations.
Years lived in Stallings: 10 years

What is the main reason you’re running for election?
There is a time in life when we need to look beyond self and see how we can serve our community.  It is that time for me.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?
We must always focus on ensuring we are meeting the needs of our community in providing the services we deem as necessary. The capital improvement needs for infrastructure is a means to have a plan in place to understand the long-term costs and a plan to provide.This is good stewardship of assets that we have made investments in as a town.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.
I believe it was the right thing to pull from the fund balance.  We cannot continue to return to the revenue stream of increasing taxes.  We need to remember that we are still in a very slow economy; people are struggling to live within their means in the home.  We need to do the same as a town government.

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

We should always explore how we can make government efficient in providing services.   This is an expectation we as citizens need our elected representatives to have as a priority continually.

 

Stallings Town Council
District 6

Deborah Romanow
704-941-1818
Deborah.romanow@ucps.k12.nc.us
www.facebook.com/DRomanow

Relevant experience:  Have served on the Stallings Planning Board for more 11 years
Education: B. S. in education from Bob Jones University and master’s in educational leadership from Wingate University
Family:   Jim, husband, married more than 34 years; two grown daughters and a son-in-law
Years lived in Stallings: 12 years

What is the main reason you’re running for election?
Having served my community for more than 11 years on the planning board, I want to further serve my town by giving a voice to the people in the town while making decisions in the best interest of the whole community.

Recently the town council approved the capital improvement plan after more than two years of work and discussions.  What do you feel should be the next step for Stallings leaders in regards to capital improvement?
Continue to evaluate the needed projects for capital improvements and determine the priorities based on community involvement.  I don’t have a definitive plan but will be willing to be a team player in the discussions.

This year’s budget was about $7 million, including some capital projects, and town leaders had to pull from the fund balance in order to pay for the projects without an increase in taxes. Do you feel this was the best course of action; would you have supported a tax increase to pay for the projects; or do you feel the town shouldn’t move forward with these projects at this time? Please explain why.

I believe pulling from the fund balance was the correct and best course of action.  Raising taxes in this deflated economy would have been foolish.  I am convinced that council, mayor and the town manager carefully considered all options and felt this was the best way to proceed.  Perhaps another year this would not be the best course of action and looking at cuts in spending or a small tax increase would be wiser.  Contrary to what we are being told in the media, our economy is still not healthy.  No one likes tax increases, but sometimes it does have to happen.  I am thankful Stallings still has one of the lowest tax rates in the area.

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

Working together with the council, mayor and town manager as a team in a professional way to grow our downtown area as well as transportation needs such as road improvements, sidewalks and public transportation.   Listening carefully to the individual communities by having regular meetings with them while keeping them in the know about what is going on in town.

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