Critics join Davidson election race
by Staff Writer
DAVIDSON – Vince Winegardner, a member of the Davidson Planning Board who has recently criticized town spending priorities and “group think,” expected to file Thursday morning, July 14, to oppose incumbent Mayor David Woods in this fall’s election.
And Rodney Graham, a Davidson builder who ran in 2007 opposing the town’s purchase of MI-Connection, has filed to run for a seat on the Davidson Board of Commissioners.
Brian Jenest is the only incumbent board member to have filed as of the Herald’s deadline Wednesday, but Davidson voters seem guaranteed to see very competitive races this fall.
Winegardner is a retired military officer “who had responsibilities ranging from the command and control of up to 50 of our nation’s nuclear weapons to the management of an organization with over 400 personnel and a budget exceeding $24 million.” He currently manages his wife’s medical practice in Huntersville.
Though he’s served on a number of planning committees, he’s gotten more attention recently as the spokesman for a group of residents calling themselves the Davidson Coalition for Fiscal Responsibility. The group issued a policy statement this week, which is available here.
Winegardner said he decided to oppose Woods because the town’s purchase, along with Mooresville, of the MI-Connection broadband company “combined with an ongoing history of spending taxpayer money on non-governmental projects and taking major financial risk without the taxpayer’s agreement threatens the viability of our town government and violates the town’s core value of providing high quality services at a reasonable cost.”
Winegardner wants the town to appoint an independent citizens’ task force “to fully and openly determine our town’s future in MI-Connection.”
Graham has operated John Marshall Custom Homes for nine years, specializing in “green building,” including the only LEED-certified home in Davidson. Prior to that, he worked 15 years for General Electric and KPMG Consulting.
Graham lost his 2007 race and said he was the only candidate at the time who said purchasing MI-Connection “was a bad idea.”
Four years later, Graham said he remains an independent voice. “We must change the mindset about MI-Connection from a negative one that asks people to sign up for MI-Connection under the threat of higher taxes if they don’t, to a positive one where MI-Connection is challenged to provide a service and price offering that makes people want to sign up for it,” Graham said in his announcement. While commissioners have blamed a bad economy, Graham said MI-Connection’s competitors seem to have done OK. He also points to MI-Connection management’s drastic overestimate of revenues in the past year.
Graham worries that MI-Connection can’t compete with the deep pockets and expertise of companies like Time Warner Cable. With rapid changes in technology, he worries “Davidson is going to be an island of outdated technologies” and its citizens saddled with even greater debt.
“Nobody is going to want to say it, but you can’t take it off the table that we need to consider an exit strategy for getting out of MI-Connection,” he said.
Cornelius has a race for town board
CORNELIUS – Town voters have a competitive race for the five seats on the Board of Commissioners.
In the past week, businessmen and political first-timers John R. Bradford III and Jeff Hare and incumbent Commissioner Dave Gilroy filed to run for the board.
Gilroy and fellow incumbents Lynette Rinker, Thurman Ross Jr. and Chuck Travis are seeking re-election. Only incumbent Jim Bensman is not seeking re-election, leaving six candidates vying for the five seats so far. Incumbent Mayor Jeff Tarte has not drawn any opposition yet.
Bradford is a real estate broker, operates Park Avenue Properties on West Catawba Avenue and serves on the board of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.
“I am excited about the prospect of serving the Town of Cornelius,” Bradford said in a written statement. “I am a Cornelius resident and a local business owner, so I have a vested interest in this community. My primary motivation to run for this position is to have a voice and a vote in the continued growth and prosperity of the Town of Cornelius.”
Growing up in the Charleston, S.C., area, Bradford graduated with honors from Clemson University in 1996 with an engineering degree.
He worked for Exxon as a senior environmental engineer and territory manager for 3 1/2 years, and in August 1998, Exxon sponsored him in the University of Memphis’ Executive MBA program. He served as the University of Memphis mascot, Pouncer, for the two years he was enrolled in the program and graduated with a 4.0 grade-point average. He then worked for IBM Corp. for almost 10 years, as a manager and award-winning sales executive.
He founded Park Avenue Properties in 2003 and was selected recently to serve as a regional vice president on the National Board of Directors for the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
He and his wife, Shea, have four children, Jack, Molly and identical twin girls, Sophie and Macy. Contact Bradford at 704-334-2626 or jbradford@parkavenue
Hare serves as managing director of Windward Capital Group, an investment management and business advisory firm he formed in 2009 after 20 years in international and domestic finance.
“My goal in running for the Board of Commissioners is to get involved in helping my home town with the challenges of the 21st century,” Hare said in a written statement. “I hope to bring my diverse experience and global perspective to town leadership.”
Hare, who will be 45 by election day, grew up on New Hampshire’s Lake
Winnipesaukee, which is “similar in size to Lake Norman” and “one of the reasons I like the Lake Norman area so much,” he said.
He earned a BA in economics from the Whittemore School at the University of New Hampshire in 1988 and a masters in international management from Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz., “the top-rated international business program in the country,” in 1995.
According to the Windward website, Hare was a principal at Bank of America Merrill Lynch from 1995 to 2007. From 2007 to 2009, he served as managing director at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, an investment bank, before forming Windward Capital, which has its offices at 7930 W. Kenton Circle, suite 260, in Huntersville.
Hare and his wife, Jacqueline, live on Sail View Drive in Cornelius, and their three children attend Community School of Davidson. Hare has served as a volunteer football and basketball coach for the past five to six years in Cornelius and Davidson.
Contact Hare at 704-953-0077 or email@example.com.
Huntersville piles on the candidates
All Huntersville incumbents have filed for re-election this year along with four others seeking office in the north Mecklenburg town almost guaranteed to see the most political turnover.
Two-term Mayor Jill Swain will hope to fend off a challenge from first-term commissioner cum mayoral candidate Danae Caulfield.
“This year, signing up was done with little fanfare,” Swain, who also served four terms as a Huntersville commissioner, said. “There is a positive momentum in Huntersville now, and I am anxious for that to be the focus and for the progress to continue. I’ve said it many times: I just plain love my job and hope the citizens believe me worthy of continuing to work on their behalf.”
While the mayoral candidates are very familiar faces, many of the town board candidates are somewhat newcomers to the political scene.
This week, challengers Adam Boatsman and Jeff Neely filed, pushing the number of candidates for the six-member board to seven.
Boatsman, 38, a founding partner at the accounting firm Boatsman Gilmore, said he would hopes to address overcrowding in area schools, improve local roads and facilitate job growth.
“I decided to run for the town board because I believe that I have the right skill set at this moment in time to address our biggest issues as residents of our great town. I have built our accounting firm by helping small to mid-size businesses grow in a smart, fiscally responsible manner. I have volunteered my time by sitting on the board of the Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce to work for the common good of the region in the areas of economic development. During my tenure, we have seen some great successes.”
In his email announcement, Neely, a two-term Huntersville Planning Board member and former Belk Stores vice president, said, “In a difficult economy, Huntersville faces continuing challenges to growth while maintaining the quality of life our citizens have a right to expect. As we move forward as a community, several issues are priorities: roads and transportation, the need for a new police station, understanding the economic conditions that affect both residential and commercial development and working with the town management professionals to ensure we maximize the available funds in the town budget.”
Melinda Bales and Adam Planty have already announced their candidacies.
Incumbents Ron Julian and Sarah McAulay both announced this week they were seeking re-election. Charles Jeter filed last week.
“Just like any business, Huntersville is in constant competition with other North Carolina towns,” Julian said in his announcement. “The competition ranges from federal and state transportation funds to economic development incentives. Our town board must remain poised in facing these challenges. It is imperative we keep a watchful eye on taxpayer dollars while embracing promising economic opportunities.”
McAulay said she knows the constraints facing the town but is excited to see it flourish.
“There are still many challenges and opportunities to provide leadership in our growing community, while still facing the economic realities most town budgets are undergoing,” said McAulay, who has served more than two decades in Huntersville government. “Serving Huntersville citizens in an elected capacity has always been an honor to me and is something that I never take for granted. I look forward to an exciting campaign and welcome as always any suggestions or advice about how I can more effective represent the viewpoints of citizens.”