When Troutman voters go the polls this fall, they will see something that hasn't happened in more than 15 years: A declared opponent’s name will be on the ballot challenging long-time Mayor Elbert Richardson. Retired Iredell County Lt. Sheriff Ron Wyatt will try to unseat Richardson, who is seeking his fifth term and has faced nothing more than token write-in votes since he was first elected in 1999.
Richardson, 72, is particularly proud of the quality of life enhancements that have occurred in Troutman on his watch, including the extension of the greenway, a new library and the construction of the town’s first park. A change in leadership now, he says, would be “a step backwards.”
“Contacts to address the major issues we face – such as pursuing a land-own partner to develop a business/light industrial park – have already been made by me to a large extent through people I have known for many years,” he said. To begin at this point with a new mayor would, at a minimum, slow down efforts to address the town’s needs as it continues to grow.”
However, Wyatt, 49, feels a change is needed now: “We must make Troutman a good place to have a business. In traveling around town I also have heard displeasure about our town tax rate.”
Troutman’s town tax rate is currently 47 cents per $100 assessed value, higher than all Lake Norman area towns in both Mecklenburg and Iredell Counties towns except Mooresville (58 cents). Town officials have often cited the need to maintain and improve the town’s infrastructure as a major factor influencing that rate.
Wyatt also said that the town “can no longer allow developers to promise one thing, get the profit and leave without completing their promises.”
When asked for an example, Wyatt mentioned the Falls Cove developments in the southern section of the town. He claims that Crescent Resources, the original developer, originally sold $500,000 homes and large lots. Wyatt said there was also to be a park and a boat launch built as part of Falls Cove.
As the housing crisis deepened, the builder declared bankruptcy. “While they did not make a clear profit and walk away, they were in business several years before failing on their promises.”
However, Richardson said there was no cost for taxpayers to recoup expenses related to the bankruptcy, since Crescent Resources, at the town’s request, paid $2.18 million before it went under in order to cover the town’s expenses to extend sewer lines to Mooresville. “This up-front payment also covered the costs for water lines to reach the Falls Cove subdivision,” Richardson said.
Each candidate cites his strong ties with the community as a major plus. “I was raised in the Troutman area from childhood,” Wyatt said. He spent nearly 22 years with the Iredell County Sheriff's Office. “I attended the schools here and love the Troutman community.”
Richardson, a Florida native, moved to North Carolina in 1965. “I’ve dedicated my life to helping my neighbors, first helping to establish a local community bank, and then later as Troutman’s mayor, as well as serving on the boards of such groups as the Salvation Army.”
Richardson is married to the former Joyce Bowden; they have three grown sons and five grandchildren.
Wyatt is married to the former Julie Brawley; they have twin sons, age 12.
In addition to the mayoral race, Troutman voters will also select two candidates from a field of five to serve on the town board.
Troutman voting is 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3. Eligible voters in both of the town’s precincts (Barringer and Fallstown) will vote this year at the Troutman Baptist Church, 305 Perry Road. Early one-stop voting is being held at the Board of Elections in Statesville, ending at 1 p.m. Oct. 31.
Dave Vieser is a freelance writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.