LINCOLN TIMES-NEWS STAFF
The Lincoln Times-News wrote to each of the six candidates running for Lincolnton mayor and City Council seats last week, asking them to answer a series of questions about issues of importance to city voters.
Their answers are published in full today, with only minor edits.
Question: The newspaper constantly hears from businesses and individuals about problems with downtown parking. What would be the best approach for the city to take in this situation?
Mayor John Gilleland Jr. (Republican, seeking re-election): I have spoken to the people closest to this problem: Police officers and business owners. The recommendation I have received from both is to make sure the current laws are enforced. Follow through on every ticket to ensure the fee is paid and this will change behavior of repeat offenders.
Pam Huskey (Democrat, running of for mayor): It bothers me that businesses and citizens go to the newspaper with downtown issues. Their concerns should be directed to the mayor and city council. It would appear that the mayorâ€™s office does not have a good communication relationship with the downtown merchants. I, as mayor, would approach the merchants and create a regular monthly meeting in which their concerns and ideas are expressed and discussed. This would certainly make the council aware of any problems they are experiencing. Parking has always been a problem in the downtown area with the day-to-day operation of the county courthouse. I believe the first step toward its improvement would be the stricter enforcement of the two-hour parking limit. I know we all like to park as close as we can to our destination, but there are city parking lots available for public use. Secondly, we need to identify the city parking lots more clearly and promote their use. A third option would be to reinstall an electronic parking meter; Charlotte uses them, and they are debit-card friendly. As you state below, the county may move some offices to the old hospital location, freeing up more parking opportunities downtown.
City Council Ward II member Dr. John â€œLesâ€ Cloninger (Democrat, seeking re-election): The city and county offices have ample parking, although the county parking is behind the Farmers Market and is further away than most would like. Retailers and professional businesses donâ€™t have enough parking for their employees, but thatâ€™s typical of virtually every city. While public parking is limited to two hours, rarely is it full more than two blocks either way. If the county moves some of its departments out of downtown, that would be the time to re-evaluate the situation.
Sam Ausband Jr. (Republican, running for Ward II): Several downtown parking issues need to be addressed in the best interest of merchants and their employees, those who use the courts and government offices and those who are visiting our city. Many downtown businesses donâ€™t have adequate parking behind their offices for employees, and there is limited parking for daytime events that take place at the Citizenâ€™s Center and the Cultural Center. When jurors are called to the courthouse during the selection process, it can also be difficult to find suitable parking space. Â Those with business at one of the government offices and visitors who are in town for some shopping or a meal can usually find relatively convenient parking on Main Street or nearby, but the two-hour limit can make it difficult for them to accomplish everything without having to move their vehicles to avoid a parking violation. We have limited parking lots and their locations deter some downtown workers from using them. It can be a long walk between the city lots and the place of business, and it can be uncomfortable for those who work late and must walk to their cars in the evening. The lots are also hard to find unless you already know where they are. The city needs to look at the current parking limit on Main Street to determine whether or not two hours is sufficient. If it isnâ€™t, we might want to keep the two-hour limit but give merchants a couple of placards that entitle select customers to park in front of their businesses for a while longer. We need better signage directing visitors to our existing parking lots, and we need to examine the sufficiency of parking spaces with an eye toward eventually developing an additional lot closer to the Cultural Center and the proposed Catawba Valley Pottery Center.
City Council Ward IV member Larry Mac Hovis (Democrat, seeking re-election): We need to promote the parking lot we already have at East Sycamore Street and Main Street. We have a lot behind City Hall on West Pine Street that can be made into a parking lot when money becomes available for paving it. Also, we need to encourage county employees to use the parking lot at the farmerâ€™s market, thus freeing up parking spaces for shoppers. We have a time limit for parking; we need to enforce it continually.
Tim Shain (Republican, running for Ward IV): I would like to get feedback from local business owners and individuals about this problem. Â I know in the past we have had private investors who wanted to build a parking deck with storefront office places in the front that would be aesthetically pleasing and keep with the historic feel of downtown. My opponent said we did not need a parking deck downtown. I believe a private investor would be the best solution for this situation, but we need input from all concerned citizens to make the best decision.
Q. What do you think would be the best use of the proceeds from the sale of the old ABC store?
Gilleland: Pay off debt as most families are trying to do during these difficult times. The city is paying $261,000 yearly toward debt in the General Fund. Most of this debt, if not all, could be paid off if the ABC money were applied to it.
Huskey: Our City Council was on top of their game when this deal was brokered. Imagine, we were able to have a new ABC store built at no expense to the city tax, and on top of that, the city was able to put approximately a million dollars in the bank. The new ABC store is generating more income than the previous store, plus we have a new business in Walgreens that added jobs and tax revenue. Having a large amount of money in the general fund is a nice situation to be in. We must allocate the funds in the most efficient and deserving manner. There are several projects that need to be considered by the city council and should be discussed in-depth before any action is taken. We must remember as an employer to many city workers that we must provide them with the most safe and healthy working environment. I donâ€™t want the money spent on lawsuits and lawyers.
Cloninger: Tax revenues are usually designated to run the city. Â Although we saved money each year for a long time when we remodeled City Hall and the Fire Department, that is tougher to do today. Â I think the profits earned from the ABC transaction should be earmarked for capital improvement projects. The police station is one of those possibilities. By statute, it canâ€™t be used to lower utility rates. I am not in favor of chopping at it in bits and pieces so when the time comes for a large expenditure, we have to borrow rather than pay cash. We should try to save some of it for â€œa rainy day.â€ Thatâ€™s prudent in this or any economy.
Ausband: We need to pay off existing debt before incurring additional obligations. Thatâ€™s a simple idea but a responsible one. To spend the ABC proceeds on a new police station and generate additional, significant debt at the same time are irresponsible and indicate a propensity to spend without examining other options or opportunities. To burden our citizens with additional debt during this time of economic uncertainty is unconscionable and I have already gone on record in opposition to that particular use of the ABC funds. I would support some improvements to the existing police station to better serve our officers and police personnel, but the rest of the money would be used to pay down our debt. Nikita Khruschev once said â€œPoliticians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.â€ Our City Council majority wants to spend money where there is no valid requirement.
Hovis: I think this money could be best used to renovate the police department. For the past 10 years this has been a pressing need. For example, we are now renting a building for the detectives. The Police Department building needs a new roof and an elevator. Also, mold and asbestos in the building present health hazards to employees working there. The City Council is responsible for providing an adequate working environment for our employees. We saved money each year for Â a long time in order to remodel City Hall and the Fire Department. We have not been able to do this to renovate the Police Department.
Shain: We should Pay for City Hall and the Fire Department Ladder Truck.
Q: How do you think the cityâ€™s tax rate affects its ability to recruit additional employers to the area?
Gilleland: Lincolnton has a great deal to offer a potential employer, such as a location close to highways/interstates, major airport, local airport, great employees, city services and many other attributes. Â We now have two recent success stories with Lincolnton Furniture and Main Filters with one more soon to follow. One of our biggest challenges is the tax rate which is a big factor in where a company locates. Tax rates for cities close by with similar populations: Conover $.40, Kings Mt. $.40, Mt. Holly $.53, Belmont $.475, and Lincolnton $.56. A company with $50 million in property and equipment would pay $80,000 more per year to locate in Lincolnton vs. Conover or Kings Mountain. We must start chipping away at our current tax rate.
Huskey: Any cityâ€™s tax rate has a direct effect on the luring of new businesses to their area. I currently feel that our tax rate, which has been unchanged for the past 11 years, is very satisfactory to the services that are provided. I believe that the events of the past year would show that the tax rate is not an issue in securing new businesses. This month we have two new international businesses occupying the old Hugger facility, with the possibility of a third. Wal-Mart built its new store in the city after having an option for a site in the county. Ingles Food is committed to a new store in the city after some right-of-way issues are worked out. This location will probably spawn several smaller shops to this site. There is a Dunkinâ€™ Donuts being built now across the highway from Ingles. Walgreens wanted a city location bad enough that it built us a new ABC store to secure Walgreensâ€™ current property. The First National Bank has just opened a new branch in the east side of town. A local furniture manufacturer has chosen a building within the cityâ€™s limit to re-establish its business. The new Hampton Inn plans to open before the end of the year. Obviously, any problem with recruiting businesses is not due to the cityâ€™s tax rate; however, it should be noted that the county has put in place a 5 percent increase for the 2011/2012 years.
Cloninger: Our tax rate is lower than most cities in the area, according to statistics available on the Internet. Â We are attracting new businesses to our city, noticed by construction sites around the city. Â Many criteria factor into a business selecting a site — availability of utilities, access to interstate highways and airports, schools, quality of life and more. Itâ€™s not just the tax rate. Â We have a lot to offer.
Ausband: Our city property-tax rate is one of the highest in the area, and I think it affects our ability to attract both business investment and residential growth. While it isnâ€™t completely accurate, the perception is that city businesses and residents have a tax burden twice that of county residents. Perception to most people is reality, and significantly higher taxes encourage investors and prospective residents to look at less costly locations. A tax reduction of even a small amount would make our community more attractive and it would send a clear message that our leadership is fiscally conservative, responsible in its management of tax dollars and interested in allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned income.
Hovis: Our tax rate for a city of our size is lower than most in our area. We have managed to keep our infrastructure up without raising taxes for the last 20 years. This is a big plus for recruiting new employers and investors.
Shain: When we are considering tax rate, we must consider that companies view tax rates three different ways. How does it impact my company? How does it impact my employees? And how does the tax rate compare to surrounding cities? Tax rates have a significantly larger impact on large companies when you consider total property owned. Â Companies consider how it might impact their employees that live within the city that they work. Lastly when they compare the tax rate to surrounding cities, if ours is the highest, it is perceived to be a poorly managed city. We must work to have the lowest tax rate possible to compete with other cities in our region. This in turn will increase the number of companies that consider and decide to move to Lincolnton, which will increase our tax base and ultimately our revenue. When considering property tax rates, we also need to understand that they significantly affect retired citizens and individuals on fixed incomes.
Q: If elected, you will be a part of the city government that is guaranteed to be divided along party lines, and no one can predict with certainty which party will be in control. If you are in the minority, how would you work with members of the opposing party while also trying to ensure that those who voted for your partyâ€™s candidates are well-represented?
Gilleland: I have worked from this perspective for two years and I believe I have been successful in working with the majority. Most votes during the last two years have been unanimous, which indicates all five of us have worked together well for the citizens of Lincolnton. Â At present, the councilâ€™s primary difference is on spending. I am 100 percent convinced spending must be decreased.
Huskey: Having been elected Clerk of Court for 16 years, there were some years that I was in the minority party of elected county officials. The same rule I used to get re-elected each term is the same one that I would adhere to as mayor. The rule is: anyone who comes into my office regardless of age, race, religious beliefs or political party will be treated professionally and with no prejudices. The City Council and mayor are elected to serve the citizens of Lincolnton, not a political party. As mayor of Lincolnton, it will not make a difference which party has the majority as we are there for one purpose â€” to improve the quality of life for Lincolntonâ€™s citizens. I feel when elected, it will be because the people know that I will represent all to the best of my ability.
Cloninger: If I am elected for another term, I will do what Iâ€™ve always done â€” make decisions in the best interest of the citizens. A good public servant looks to the future, not just the present. Decisions, like selling the old ABC store, arenâ€™t always popular. When the deal was done, we put about $1million in the city coffers. That was good leadership and beneficial for the city and its residents. Once elected, politics shouldnâ€™t be the focus, the people should.
Ausband: Itâ€™s important to maintain a cordial but candid working relationship regardless of which party is in the majority. There will be differences on any number of issues, but those differences shouldnâ€™t impede the councilâ€™s ability to do whatâ€™s best for the citizens in our community. As a candidate concerned about excessive and sometimes wasteful spending, I intend to be a voice for those who want to see their tax dollars used more wisely. Â Before making a decision, I would examine every side of the issue as thoroughly as possible, but I wouldnâ€™t equivocate or retract my stance under pressure from opposing factions.
Hovis: During my 16 years on the council, I have always put the best interests of the city first. If re-elected, I will continue to do so, regardless of who is in the majority. The city should be run as a business, not on a political basis.
Shain: I will continue my interfacing with the citizens of Lincolnton and make sure their voice is being heard in the City Council.
Q: A number of events conducted downtown each year, particularly those that involve public drinking, are unpopular with some downtown merchants. What do you think about events like Alive after 5 and Hog Happening, and how could this situation be improved?
Gilleland: Â I have spoken with many merchants concerning this topic and the biggest issue is closing down streets before 5 p.m. on Thursday or Friday afternoons. Our local merchants should be our top priority. Downtown merchants pay taxes and collect sales-tax revenue every day of the year and should not be hurt when there is another event taking place. I would like to see a temporary committee formed by local merchants and the Downtown Development Committee to find compromise and solutions to the issues.
Huskey: We are blessed to have such a beautiful downtown area with the courthouse sitting as a nice backdrop to sunsets. Any city wanting to build enthusiasm to its downtown area must involve the community, as well as the merchants, with event planning. Several surrounding cities have after-hours events in their downtown areas â€”Stanley, Mt. Holly, Belmont, Gastonia, Kings Mountain, Shelby and Hickory, to name a few. These events are scheduled after the downtown businesses close to prevent any business disruption. Events, like the newly established Art Crawl, are a perfect example of involving the merchants and the public. Participation in the Art Crawl has doubled in the second year, and the anticipation for the next one is commonly discussed among artists, merchants and citizens. Several of the events make wine and beer available to the public, but in restricted areas. I am not aware of any disturbances during these events. I see no reason to discontinue them at this time. The Hog Happening event is becoming a multi-state event with a competitive barbeque cook off and motorcycle rally over a Friday evening and Saturday schedule. There have been a few reported incidents, but no more than at the annual Apple Festival where there is no alcohol served. There are merchants who oppose the Apple Festival and the crowd it brings to downtown. So, it is easy to find fault in anything we as the city, county or Chamber of Commerce try and provide for the citizensâ€™ enjoyment. I must again state that as mayor, I will meet with the downtown merchants on a regularly basis and address issues and concerns that they may have.
Cloninger: Alive After 5 happens after most retailers and businesses are closed. Those open are food services that welcome customers. Hog Happeninâ€™ has gained state and national attention for the cook-off and bike events, populated by many Christian and professional groups. Hog Happeninâ€™ draws more people for overnight stays in our hotels than any other event and has provided over $47,000 for charitable causes. Most sponsors, organizers, volunteers and participants ARE city businesses. Unlike many festivals around the state, Lincolnton maintains alcohol consumption within a garden area with trained volunteers. All our downtown events, whether with or without alcohol, are increasing tourism dollars to our city. I believe there is a constant dialog between the event organizers and merchants on ways to improve events and promote more retail sales, and I encourage more involvement from business owners. If the city can help improve these or any other events, it should do everything possible.
Ausband: What I think of Alive After Five and Hog Happeninâ€™ isnâ€™t as important as what our downtown merchants think of those activities. Do our business owners feel that those events benefit them by bringing people to our city, or do they think that some of these events are disruptive and maybe even hinder business? While I believe that some events do indeed attract tourist dollars to our community and help us publicize the city in a positive way, there are others that probably donâ€™t serve us as well. Rather than eliminating those events that perhaps arenâ€™t a good fit for our downtown businesses, we need to examine other local venues that would still enable us to bring outside dollars to our economy. Is there another location in or near the city that could host Hog Happeninâ€™, for example. Does it need to be held on Main Street or could another suitable location be identified that would meet the needs of the eventâ€™s organizers but still attract visitors to the city? Our business owners have made an important investment in our city and their opinions should be solicited and incorporated into event plans whenever possible.
Hovis: Over the years I have advocated a family-friendly atmosphere at the Live After 5 events. This could be achieved by having attractions for children instead of a beer garden to raise money. Live After 5 is more of a local community event; where as Hog Happeninâ€™ brings people from from all over the state. I think the local economy benefits from it. The Downtown Development Association receives the revenues from the sale of beer. The beer garden is regulated by having to stay in an enclosed area. As far as I know, there has not been a problem with the sale of beer. Any objections from merchants could be tempered by the fact that the money raised by the DDA is used for downtown improvements. This keeps the business owners from paying a downtown tax.
Shain: I think Live After 5 should draw a larger base. I choose not to attend Alive After 5 because, if I went to these events, I would take my family and I do not want them exposed to public drinking. Some Alive After 5 Events should not include public drinking and be more family-oriented. We should have discussions with the citizens and property owners who feel that they have been disenfranchised with downtown events and get their ideas on possibilities for different events.
Q: During the recent forum, at least one candidate noted the relatively high occupancy rate of downtown. However, an enormous percentage of those buildings are occupied by government offices and nonprofit organizations. Given that the county is discussing moving many of its offices to the old hospital complex, does the city need to be concerned about bringing more merchants to downtown and what should be its role?
Gilleland: Â Unless plans change, the county does plan to move some of its offices to the hospital over the next three years. I think the timeframe in which they will be moving allows time for our Lincolnton Chamber of Commerce and DDA to backfill the space vacated. We need to take this situation and make it a positive one by replacing government offices with taxpaying private enterprises. The city should create an environment that allows private enterprise to flourish and private enterprise will come.
Huskey: We need to be concerned about the loss of any occupant of a downtown space. The City Council should work with the Chamber of Commerce, Business and Community Development and the city manager to help promote and recruit new businesses in order to maintain a high occupancy rate. I feel we need to promote the concept of mixed-use for our downtown area. This is when a building is used for retail and residential or office. We need to revitalize our city, and the best way is to bring more people downtown. If we have residents living in these buildings, they will be eating, shopping and working in the area. The more activity we have downtown the better chance we have of filling any empty buildings. As we all know, the downtown is a favorite walking route of the citizens. Â What if there were more merchants to visit, wouldnâ€™t it be great?
Cloninger: Tourism will be the key downtown. Many cities, large and small, have experienced government offices moving to larger office spaces with better technology and parking. Thatâ€™s a decision the county is contemplating now. We are fortunate that, if a Main Street business does close, others are recruited to fill the space. Eateries, arts and crafts and other businesses will expand into some of the buildings. Thatâ€™s the trend throughout North Carolina. We should make every effort to accommodate investors who want to up-fit buildings for retail, office or residential. Thatâ€™s a key role to keeping our downtown growing.
Ausband: According to our Downtown Development Association, just under 60 percent of our downtown space is used by the government. Obviously, any relocation of government offices will have an impact on our historic downtown area. The most pronounced effect will be the loss of business for restaurants, our coffee shop and some of our family-owned retail businesses. While a move to the old hospital will probably benefit Lincolnton businesses closer to that location, it will adversely affect downtown. City leaders will have to work even closer with the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development, Lincoln Economic Development and the county itself to recruit new life to downtown and backfill some of the vacant government offices. We canâ€™t overlook the potential for residential development in some of the buildings that have been historically used for business. Many older communities have residences above street-level shops, and there would undoubtedly be a market for loft apartments and other similar residences with the proper planning and development. Our leaders need to examine other communities with similar attributes to ascertain what they have done to successfully develop their center cities. From other communities, we can learn some positives to incorporate into a plan and we can learn some negatives to avoid if weâ€™re just willing to ask some questions. Itâ€™s also important to keep in mind that Lincolnton doesnâ€™t just consist of our historic downtown. Our leaders must be just as concerned about economic prosperity in other portions of our community like Boger City.
Hovis: The city has always been concerned about the occupancy rate of downtown. We support the Chamber of Commerce, LEDA and have a Business and Community Development Department to make every effort to bring new businesses and investors to downtown. We sponsor a number of programs that we believe will be added incentive to attract potential businesses to our city.
Shain: The old Ford Dealership is a perfect example of this situation. If it were not for Mayor Gilleland and Councilman Rhyne the old Ford Dealership on Main Street would be a new police station. Now there is an auto parts store location on the property that brings tax revenue to the city. We need to be diligent in developing and encouraging business to move to the Main Street Boger City Corridor. It would be nice to convince ourselves that many of the county offices might not go the old hospital building. The fact is we must plan for the worst-case scenario and promote economic growth in downtown Lincolnton.
Q: What do you believe is the proper relationship between the city manager and the elected city government officials should be? Is there anything you would like to see changed in the way this works at present?
Gilleland: The city manager position is critical and vital to the success of the city. The city manager is the face of the city to the public. He is also the connection between city operations and elected officials. For these reasons, there must be directly accountable to the City Council.
Huskey: The relationship between the city manager and elected city officials should be like any business where you have an employer and employees. In this case, the city manager is an employee of the city and managed by the City Council. The City Council members are the decision makers of the city. The mayor and City Council focus on the communityâ€™s goals, major projects, land-use developments, capital improvement plans, capital financing and strategic planning. The city manager is the administrator overseeing the daily operation of the various city departments. Â He or she works with the City Council in the recruitment of new businesses and continues to keep a direct line of communication with the mayor and City Council.
As with any employeeâ€“employer relationship, it should be upmost one of a professional level. The citizens do expect a mutual relationship that is working for the best interest of the people of Lincolnton. Â If a need for change arises, then considerations need to occur at that time.
Cloninger: The city manager, like the county manager, is an employee, answering and accountable to the city/county. Â When hired, he was given the authority to oversee the administration of the city departments. I donâ€™t have the time, expertise or desire to micro-manage the city. Heâ€™s the professional. When we renovated the City Hall project, we asked our city manager to take on the added responsibility of overseeing this project. As a result, we saved the city thousands of dollars that would have been spent on a project manager. Thatâ€™s the kind of flexibility I like in our city manager. The system works.
Ausband: Our elected officials are responsible for developing a vision for the community and for identifying goals and priorities to support that vision. Â They must then apply common sense, sound judgment and a hands-on approach to leadership as they move the city forward. Â The city manager is appointed by the cityâ€™s elected officials and is responsible for providing management control and coordination of all city government activities. Â The city manager should accept direction from the mayor and City Council, and work diligently, loyally and competently to address issues pertaining to every aspect of city government. Â President Harry Truman had a small plaque on his White House desk that said â€œThe buck stops here.â€ The buck stops with our mayor and City Council. They are ultimately responsible for the decisions that affect our citizens and our city, and they must be the ones who ask the hard questions, make the difficult decisions and provide the leadership necessary to provide a stable, high quality of life for our citizens. As an outsider looking in, it seems to me that our council majority and city manager have confused their roles to some extent, and there will be improvements in that relationship if Iâ€™m elected.
Hovis: The relationship is one of employee and employer. The city managerâ€™s job is to carry out policies set by the council and oversee the daily business of the city. During the managerâ€™s tenure he has accepted responsibilities above and beyond the scope of his position. During the recent renovation of the City Hall and Fire Department, he served as liason, thus saving the city thousands of dollars.
Shain: It is the City Council position to create policy and procedures and the city managerâ€™s job is to implement them.
Q: Finally, why do you think people should vote for you? What would be your number one priority if elected, and how do you see yourself making a difference while in office.
Gilleland: My number one priority is to slow down spending! I also want to be part of creating a vision for Lincolnton. Â Right now we are too reactive and I look forward to having a vision that allows us to plan for the future to be extremely successful.
Huskey: I believe that having served the citizens of Lincolnton and Lincoln County for 30 years in the office of Clerk of Superior Court has shown â€œproven leadershipâ€. As the owner of a small business in Lincolnton for the past seven years, I understand the responsibility of working with employees, fulfilling administrative duties, and making financial decisions. I want see the Marcia Cloninger rail-to-trail become a reality. Â I want to collaborate with the Carolina Thread Trail organization to extend the trail from City Park back to Betty Ross Park. I would love to create a dog park somewhere along the trail for those who need a place to take their pets. We have discussed the downtown numerous times, but we must keep in mind that we need to continue to grow in all parts of the city. I could go on and on about my dreams and goals for keeping Lincolnton the quaint, old and beautiful city we can be proud of. Â I want to be a mayor that â€œcanâ€ and not a mayor that â€œwonâ€™t.â€ Â I want to give our citizens the best quality of life. Â As your mayor, I would enjoy the opportunity to serve you.
Cloninger: My number one priority is to continue serving the people of Lincolnton to the best of my ability. I love this town; I love its people. Theyâ€™re not just constituents; they are friends. I value our citizens and their trust in me. Maintaining the quality of life in our community yet being fiscally responsibility are my goals. I think Iâ€™ve done a good job these past 12 years, supporting many projects that have made Lincolnton progressive. A vote for me will ensure Lincolnton continues to move forward.
Ausband: My opponent suggests that voters shouldnâ€™t support me because Iâ€™m not â€œhomegrown.â€ Â He feels that his 12 years on City Council and his many years as a city resident give him a distinct advantage over me. I think each of these points gives me a distinct advantage over my opponent because I have experienced life throughout the United States during my career in the military. I have seen things that make communities strong, and I have witnessed other things that weaken communities and test the fortitude of their business and residential populations. I have seen, for example, that prosperous cities all rely to some meaningful extent on tourism. I have also seen that high taxes and a hungry, wasteful government discourage business investment and adversely impact the quality of life for residents. We can take a lesson from that here in Lincolnton. Also, I am not a career politician. I am simply a citizen who has concerns over the way our elected officials are handling our tax dollars and over the lack of progress that has been made in maintaining a high quality of life for our citizens. Years in politics havenâ€™t dulled my enthusiasm or impeded my ability to think in an innovative manner. Iâ€™m committed to this community, and I feel I can bring a fresh prospective to city government. My top priority is to identify ways to spend tax dollars more responsibly so we can reduce the tax burden on our citizens. By being more pro-active in the recruitment of business investment, residential growth, and tourist development, Iâ€™m confident that I can make a positive difference in the future of our city.
Hovis: As a lifelong resident of Lincolnton, I care deeply about the future of this city. During my 16 years of service we have upgraded the water plant and sewer plant, remodeled the City Hall and Fire Department, added a satellite fire department, built a new recreation park on Highland Drive, expanded Hollybrook Cemetery, built the rail trail, doubled our size through annexation, built a new ABC store and enacted a sidewalk program. All of this has been accomplished without any increase in taxes. My number one priority is to keep the city financially sound and to preserve the quality of life we enjoy.
Shain: I am your fiscally conservative candidate for Ward IV City Council. I am very passionate about Lincolnton and I want to take every opportunity to continue the work that Mayor Gilleland and council member Rhyne have started in the past two years. Â Continue economic development; we have had some great base hits in the past couple years. Continue preserving and promoting the historical nature of our beautiful town. Continue working to find that catalyst that will promote and drive the tourist market to Lincolnton and leveraging our existing natural resources to keep them here and earn their tourist dollars. Two of your biggest Lincolnton exports are our Young Adults and Catawba Valley Pottery. We need to create an environment that draw our youth back to Lincolnton after they graduate from college. Use Catawba Valley Pottery as the catalyst to draw the tourist dollars to Lincolnton that will spawn more economic development, ease the tax burden on our citizens and increase the number of water and sewer users. Â I am passionately optimistic and enthusiastically energetic about Lincolntonâ€™s history. I Â want to preserve and leverage that history as we use it to develop Lincolnton to be stronger than ever in the future, making us, not only a bedroom community, as existing city council members said in the recent candidate forum, but an ideal destination location for fun, education and entertainment.