New mayor, council coming to Kannapolis
Friday, Nov. 01, 2013

New mayor, council coming to Kannapolis

After the Nov. 5 election, one of three candidates will replace Mayor Bob Misenheimer, who is not running for re-election.

City Council members Darrell Hinnant, whose term expires this year, and Tom Kincaid will go up against first-time candidate Dennis Johnson. If not elected mayor, Kincaid will serve out his council term, which expires in November 2015.

No City Council incumbent is running, but eight people are looking to fill the three open four-year terms: Dianne Berry, Nina Covington, William Cranford III, Jeremy Ford, Darrell Jackson, Amos McClorey, Thomas VanEtten and Doug Wilson.

Cabarrus News asked the candidates about the city’s top issues, their vision for Kannapolis and how their past experience will help if elected.

Mayoral race

Dennis Johnson declined to be interviewed.

Hinnant, 66, is a 12-year council member and president of dHinnant Business Solutions Inc. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a master’s in chemistry teaching, both from UNC Chapel Hill.

He said his experience as a small-business owner could help bring thousands of new, livable-wage jobs to the city.

“I … understand how large companies make decisions about relocating,” he said. “My small-business experience will allow me to assist small businesses to locate and grow (here).”

Hinnant said the city can manage growth and capital projects without a tax increase. His advice to others if he’s not elected is to seek job creators.

Kincaid, 61, has lived in Kannapolis 25 years. He was appointed in 2010 to serve out the term of the late Richard Anderson and was elected to a full term in 2011.

He attended UNC Chapel Hill’s Long-Term Care Administration Licensure program. He and his wife own and operate Caremoor Retirement Center Inc..

“ I know how to run a business, and how to make the difficult decisions that you have to make,” he said, “ … I have talents and experience that I can share to make our city stronger.”

Kincaid said he hopes his fresh ideas will lead to new opportunities, especially when it comes to supporting jobs and economic growth.

“Anyone can talk about having grand plans to bring in hundreds of jobs, but … nobody’s going to move their company here unless we can show them that we’re supporting the businesses we have now.”

A low tax rate will lure economic development, he said. Supporting the school system also is key.

City Council race

Amos McClorey did not respond.

Berry, 59, a Kannapolis native, graduated from King’s College Charlotte and attended the Clerks Academy at the UNC School of Government.

She’s been an assistant to the superintendent and was the clerk to Kannapolis Board of Education. .

She said the large number of candidates running has made the election interesting but confusing.

“In the mayoral race, we have two experienced incumbents. ... An inexperienced mayor leading a majority new City Council is not what this city needs at this time.”

The top issue after the election will be getting everyone up to speed.

“The new council does not have time for disruptions and disagreements.”

She’d like some emphasis placed on community health, senior adults and the city’s youth.

Her advice to others if not elected would be to learn board protocol, seek guidance from city staff and tap area leaders for advice.

“Work as a team and don’t waste time on personal crusades,” she said.

Covington, 63, is a customer service representative for New Concepts International in Concord. She attended Baltimore City Community College and worked 34 years with the city of Baltimore’s finance department.

Addressing high unemployment, supporting economic development and appointing recruiters to lure businesses to Kannapolis are her top goals.

“(Some) companies provide on-the-job training, enabling them to ‘hire now’ as opposed to (offer) jobs that require a degree or additional formal education.”

She also wants to initiate programs in Kannapolis City Schools that encourage, train and give students upward mobility.

“This would grow Kannapolis as (students) would remain in the community, become entrepreneurs and promote our city.”

Cranford, 37, was raised in Kannapolis and is director of development for Crown Court LLC. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communications/public relations from Western Carolina University.

Drawing visitors to downtown is a key to the city’s success, as is attracting jobs, he said.

Regarding incentives, he said, companies should be rewarded only if they deliver on their promises.

“I think we need to find every way to keep from raising taxes and fees,” he said.

Ford, 37, is a LEED-certified builder with experience as a carpenter, plumber, mechanic and fabricator.

Managing the budget more efficiently, increasing police presence and creating housing to accommodate young professionals are a few of his objectives.

Recruiting businesses that offer goods and services found outside Kannapolis is important, but incentives may not be the answer, Ford said.

“Tax incentives to bring industry into town is not a sustainable means to keep an industry in place over time,” Ford said. “(But) creative tax incentives, that may be progressive in time, (could protect residents) so industry isn’t as likely to reap the benefits off the backs of the taxpayer and then leave town.”

Jackson, 60, is the owner of Lee Clothing Warehouse in Kannapolis and Dan’elle Clothing Warehouse in Concord.

He studied business administration at Central Piedmont Community College and earned an electronic communications degree from DeVry Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

Jackson said economic development is on everyone’s mind, but the city’s potential for growth shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I’m in favor of incentives, but we have to be selective about how we approach them,” he said. “We have to take each individual situation, look at what it would cost us, and what the payback is going to be long term.”

Jackson said he’d like to see substaintial residential development downtown and would like to land more corporate tenants at the research campus.

Promoting the city’s assets – the N.C. Music Hall of Fame, the Dale Earnhardt tribute and the Curb Motorsports and Music Museum – could create more tourist traffic and spur economic development.

VanEtten, 33, has lived in Kannapolis about 10 years. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Pfeiffer University.

Adding manufacturing and warehouse jobs to the city is a key priority, he said, but he’s not in favor of tax incentives.

“It has been my experience that companies arrive with plenty of jobs as long as there are incentives in place,” he said. “As the incentives and tax breaks dry up, so do the jobs. We have seen this in neighboring cities, and I am not willing to reach into everyone’s pockets for a ‘temporary’ fix.”

VanEtten said he knows what attracts companies that create good-paying jobs, “and I know what it takes to get them to the negotiating table,” he said.

Wilson, 63, a Kannapolis native, has been general manager at Publicom Inc. since 1985. He attended Central Piedmont Community College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Incorporating better marketing for Kannapolis City Schools is a top goal, next to bringing newly elected officials up to speed.

“We’re going to have a new council and new mayor, so we’ve got to become a team as quick as we can,” he said.

He said his experience with the Kannapolis Parks and Recreation Commission for 13 years will help him if elected.

“I understand the inner workings of city government,” he said. “All these (issues) are about working with people and finding different solutions to different problems.”

Johnson: 704-786-2185

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more