Six candidates are competing for three open seats on the Kannapolis City Council in this year’s municipal election.
Featuring equal numbers of incumbents and newcomers, the race is nonpartisan and will not involve a primary election.
It is playing out as Kannapolis leaders are putting together a wide-ranging plan to revitalize its downtown district, after unanimously agreeing earlier this year to a $7.5 million deal to buy an eight-block stretch. It encompasses nearly 50 acres from David Murdock, the billionaire owner of Dole Food Co. Financing the acquisition are some $11 million in special obligation bonds city leaders approved this summer. To help pay off the debt, they also agreed to raise property taxes by 3 cents in the 2015-16 fiscal year, to 63 cents per $100 valuation.
At the same time, the city is planning to expand its parks and recreation offerings, putting in place a comprehensive plan that includes new athletic fields, greenways and parks.
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Voter participation in previous elections in Kannapolis has remained relatively low.
In the 2013 election, about 2,600 voters cast ballots, accounting for less than 12 percent of the some 22,000 registered voters in the city, according to a Cabarrus County Board of Elections official. Still, that was significantly up from the 2011 election, which drew only about 1,600 voters.
Election Day is Nov. 3. The Cabarrus County Board of Elections began mailing absentee ballots Oct. 2. In-person early voting at the elections board office on Church Street, in Concord, is Oct. 22-31.
Meet the candidates
Here is a list of the candidates in alphabetical order. Council members are limited to four-year terms.
Ryan Dayvault, 1320 N. Canyon Blvd.
Dayvault, seeking a second term, said if he wins re-election he would continue focusing on ways to draw investment to downtown as it awaits renewal, including to the N.C. Research Campus. Moreover, he would support aggressive economic development strategies to create jobs and lower property taxes, as well as revitalization efforts in older corridors throughout the city.
“We must make smart investments and develop strong partnerships with investors,” said Dayvault, who serves as mayor pro tem
A Kannapolis native, the 29-year-old is involved in property management and works as a facilities and special projects coordinator for the Nutrition Research Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Catawba College.
Roger Haas, 916 Brighton Road.
A longtime council member, Haas said he would seek to spur economic growth if he wins re-election, supporting investments in infrastructure and recruitment efforts. In addition, he would focus on creating a plan to expand affordable housing in the city, noting that such an effort is already underway.
At 67, Haas has served three full terms as a council member before being appointed to part of a fourth one. The owner of AIM Tours, a motorsports tour company based in Kannapolis, he studied business at Gardner-Webb University.
Asked why he is seeking a fifth term, Haas cited his tenure as a council member, saying, “I believe I can bring some institutional knowledge to the table.” He added: “It always helps to know where you have come from to assist in knowing where you are going.”
Randy Keller, 1015 Horton Ave.
Seeking elected office for the first time, Keller said he is running for election to curb what he said is unnecessary spending of taxpayer money.
“We’re spending money we don’t have,” he said of the city. Among recent expenses he criticized was a double-decker carousel the city bought for nearly $230,000 that is expected to open at Village Park next year. He suggested that that money could have gone toward road repairs.
Citing rising property taxes and water and sewer rates, he also promised to advocate lowering taxes to attract the kinds of employers that would offer living wages, such as manufacturers. He noted the income of residents in the Kannapolis City Schools district is so low that all its schoolchildren are eligible for free or reduce-price lunches.
Originally from the area, Keller, 53, works as a facility maintenance supervisor for N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute. He received an associate’s degree in motorsports management from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
Tom Kincaid, 4716 Kannapolis Parkway.
Running for re-election, Kincaid said that if he stays in office, he would support lower taxes and work to attract employers to Kannapolis.
“We don’t have the number of good-paying jobs we need,” he said. He said he would focus on strengthening the school system, including by finding ways to attract and retain qualified teachers.
Of the $7.5 million deal to buy the downtown district, he emphasized that officials make it a point to find tenants for the properties as quickly as possible, adding, “The city does not need to take on the role of landlord any longer than necessary.”
An administrator and co-owner of Caremoor Retirement Center Inc., in Kannapolis, the 63-year-old received certifications in cardiopulmonary and respiratory therapy from what are now Wake Forest School of Medicine and Forsyth Medical Center.
In 2011, he was appointed to city council to fill a vacancy and was elected to a full term the following year.
Asked why he is seeking another term, Kincaid said he wants to continue working to find ways to rebuild Kannapolis’ tax base and create jobs.
“This city has weathered a lot of storms,” he said, citing the closing in the early 2000s of what once was the city’s largest employer, Pillowtex
Amos McClorey Sr., 1413 Cooper Ave.
McClorey, who is seeking his first term on city council, did not respond to multiple requests for comment about his election bid.
He was appointed to the city Community Development Commission in 2012. Among the focal points of the commission are offering assistance to low- to moderate-income residents and developing affordable housing.
The president of the Cabarrus County chapter of the NAACP, he was among several local officials who attended a special meeting in March when city leaders passed a resolution to buy the heart of downtown.
Violet Mitchell, 415 Lyndon Ave.
Asked why she is seeking elected office for the first time, Mitchell said she has grown frustrated with city leaders, who she suggested are not making residents’ concerns a priority.
“I felt that all the emphasis was being placed on the purchase of downtown Kannapolis, and the other needs of the community were being put on the back burner,” she said. She said she has spent the past three years or so advocating the building of sidewalks between South Little Texas and Brantley roads, citing safety concerns.
Mitchell, 58, works as a registered nurse. She received an associate’s in nursing from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
If she wins election, she said that in addition to supporting revitalization efforts downtown, she would focus on addressing the city’s unemployment and underemployment rates, as well as improving quality of life for seniors and increasing educational opportunities for young people.
“I feel that the city should start actually listening to citizens’ concerns and addressing them,” Mitchell said.
Jake Flannick is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org