The Davidson Town Board will be asked to guide Mecklenburg’s northernmost municipality through some big changes after the Nov. 3 election.
The makeup of the board itself won’t be one of those big changes.
Mayor John Woods is unopposed in his bid for a fifth consecutive term. And only one challenger, business consultant and retired Army officer Michael Angell, is on the ballot with incumbent commissioners Stacey Anderson, Beth Cashion, Jim Fuller, Rodney Graham and Brian Jenest.
“From a big-picture perspective, it’s a little hard to know what this year’s election season, with only one challenger in the town board race and no opposition in the mayor’s race, really means,” Woods said. “I hope this landscape is an indication of general satisfaction in the midst of many issues.”
Woods added, however, that competitive races are valuable when they compel voters to scrutinize candidates.
“That said, I do not believe Davidson citizens are complacent about the election,” Woods said. “Our citizens do certainly know how important each election is to our community.”
The most significant change for commissioners in their next term will be working with a new town manager. Leamon Brice plans to retire Dec. 31 after serving as Davidson’s chief administrator for a quarter-century.
And while the elected officials around the dais will be familiar, their surroundings are likely to change drastically after the election. Commissioners last month endorsed a conceptual plan to raze Davidson Town Hall and replace it with a nearly 250,000-square-foot complex anchored by a hotel and conference center.
A team from UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Government has been working with the town for more than a year on a concept to redevelop a 3.5-acre, town-owned tract now anchored by Town Hall and the attached Davidson fire and police stations. The School of Government plans to officially solicit developers for the project by early October, with construction beginning next summer.
The next two years also will be crucial for commissioners as they consider the future of MI-Connection, the seven-year-old cable company jointly owned by Davidson and Mooresville. The towns continue to spend millions of taxpayer dollars every year for payments on the $92.5 million debt they incurred when they created MI-Connection by buying local remnants of the former Adelphia Cable empire out of bankruptcy.
Selling the company, which now turns an operational profit but not enough to cover the annual payments on its debt, has not been a viable option because the debt can't be paid off fully without penalty. Those restrictions end in 2017, putting the towns in position to at least consider selling MI-Connection.
Here is a look at Davidson's Town Board candidates. The election is nonpartisan; commissioners are elected at large.
Stacey Anderson, 55, a strategic planning manager for Wells Fargo and 20-year Davidson resident who is in her first term on the Town Board. Key issues: re-evaluating the town’s targeted growth areas, and using a recently completed fiscal-impact analysis to adjust spending priorities.
Michael Angell, 47, a business consultant, retired Army lieutenant colonel and the only challenger in the race. He has lived in Davidson for 11 years. Key issues: “continue to control growth in the town and ensure we do not stray from the town values while understanding that growth is going to happen.”
Beth Cashion, 50, a marketing professional and Mount Airy native who has lived in Davidson for 16 years and is in her first term. Key issues: growth control, transportation management and the future of MI-Connection.
Jim Fuller, 73, a lawyer at the Mcintosh Law Firm, adjunct professor at Davidson College and the UNC School of Law and a former judge. The Spencer native has lived in Davidson for 15 years and is in his second term. Key issues: protecting Davidson’s “small town values” and balancing economic development with sound planning.
Rodney Graham, 52, owner of John Marshall Custom Homes who has lived in Davidson for 10 years and in the Lake Norman area for 24 years. Graham is in his second term. Key issues: maintaining Davidson’s values and small-town feel in the face of growth and development issues, “the result of which are challenges in traffic, maintaining affordability and protecting open space.”
Brian Jenest, 58, a landscape architect and managing partner with Cole Jenest & Stone in Charlotte and Raleigh, and a resident of Davidson for 23 years. Jenest is serving his fourth term. Key issues: growth control, continued adjustments to the town’s affordable housing ordinance, the Catalyst Project, working with the new town manager, a review of town departments and creating new guidelines for development in the largely rural eastern outskirts of Davidson.
John Deem is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org