A town commissioner is questioning whether mayoral candidate Miles Atkins acted properly in bringing in a top statewide Republican last week to promote his bid for office.
Commissioner Mac Herring said he was concerned about how former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory's appearance reflected on the nonpartisan nature of the Mooresville Board of Commissioners and office of the town's mayor. Candidates don't list their party affiliations on the ballot.
"I had always thought Mooresville races were nonpartisan and had considered that a strength of our community," Herring told the Observer. "I guess this changes that and adds another polarizing dimension to local politics."
"It's about doing the best for Mooresville, which I believe Miles can do," said Herring, who is registered as unaffiliated. "I just wish he didn't have to make his race a partisan effort."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Atkins is a registered Republican who was first elected to the town Board of Commissioners in 2007.
He said politics had nothing to do with his inviting McCrory to speak in behalf of his candidacy. McCrory is expected to make a second bid for governor next year.
"There's no politics in putting Mooresville first," Atkins told the Observer after his announcement at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. "And what Pat McCrory represents is what consistent leadership can mean to a city and a region. Having him here speaks volumes for Mooresville's role in being a regional leader."
About 65 people attended Atkins' announcement, including Mooresville commissioners Rhett Dusenbury and Chris Carney, both registered Republicans, and Mitch Abraham, a registered Democrat.
Abraham said he could see how McCrory's appearance might cause some people to view the Mooresville Board of Commissioners as partisan.
"You always have that in the back of your mind, but our board has truly been nonpartisan," Abraham said.
Sarah Dumser, who led the community effort to build Hope Park, a motorsports-themed playground at Lowe's YMCA, spoke first at Atkins' announcement. She told the crowd how helpful Atkins had been in explaining the government departments she needed to contact as she began her pursuit of the park.
McCrory told the crowd that Atkins was the perfect person to lead the town. The gathering also included such notables as former Mooresville Mayor Bill Thunberg; Rick and Brad Howard, developers of Langtree at the Lake; and Martha West, a former Mooresville Graded School District board member, with her husband, Vic.
Atkins is the first person to announce his candidacy since Mayor Chris Montgomery decided against seeking re-election. Montgomery announced he would not run after numerous intimate emails came to light that he sent on the town's email account to a woman who is not his wife.