MINT HILL – In 255 days, Mint Hill voters will go to the polls to select a mayor. Some residents are already walking through the door of Logo Pros in downtown to chat about the upcoming election with owner Brad Simmons.
That all started a week ago after Simmons announced he would be a candidate for mayor. Having voters stop by is just fine with the 35-year resident of the town.
“We can make the town better by sitting down and having a conversation on how to make the town better,” Simmons said. “I got out there a little early for the simple reason that I think it is important that people have the opportunity to talk to me, learn about me, vet me and make sure they know everything about me before they go to the polls. I want to give them the time to share that information with them. The door to my office is always open and I have had a lot of people walk in already.”
As of press time, Simmons is the only announced candidate for mayor, a spot currently held by incumbent Ted Biggers. Biggers, who has not faced any opposition in the last three elections, has not announced whether he will seek an 11th term. He was first elected in 1999.
Simmons is currently on the town’s planning board, and he previously was on the Mint Hill Parks and Recreation Committee. He has been a small business owner in Mint Hill since 2000, and he and his wife, Renee, sent their two children through the public schools in town.
If elected, Simmons said he will work to manage growth in a responsible way that benefits the town. He said it is time for the town to review its Unified Development Ordinance and Downtown Overlay Plan and see how, or if, those plans are still working for the betterment of Mint Hill.
“Mint Hill is at a crossroads right now. We need to see if we are accomplishing the goals that we set way back then and if our goals are the same,” Simmons said. “I feel like we need somebody capable of looking back at where we have been and be able to look forward to where we are headed. I want to lump all that together so Mint Hill continues to be the great town I have lived in for the last 35 years.
“There has been a lot of growth over the last 35 years, and it seems we are getting a lot more into it now. There are a lot of things coming on the horizon, like the widening of Highway 51 between here and Matthews. It (growth) is not going to slow down any. A lot of people say well, ‘We don’t want any growth in Mint Hill.’ But that door has already been kicked open. It’s just a matter of how we address it and how we work with the growth as it comes to us.”
Voters rejected a parks and recreation bond proposal last November that included a 2,500-seat stadium and new athletic fields on Brief Road. Simmons said addressing parks and recreation needs in town is another top issue.
“That got voted down and that is behind us,” Simmons said. “Now, we have to look at our parks situation in Mint Hill. The athletic association has needed fields for soccer and lacrosse and that is an ongoing issue. We also need to get some county parks in town as we are the only municipality around that doesn’t have a large county park. The county owns some property down here on 51 that we looked at over a decade ago when we had some public hearings but nothing has happened since. The leader needs to be working with the county and see what we can do to expedite this plan. I’m all for the parks.’’
Simmons said he is still studying House Bill 514, which was passed last year by the General Assembly and gives Mint Hill and three other towns in the county the authority to operate their own public charter schools. He said he will work hard with CMS on issues facing public schools in Mint Hill
“I am not all that familiar with why the town took that stance,” Simmons said. “My daughter holds a doctorate and she was able to do that through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She attended Mint Hill schools. It is possible to get a good education through CMS schools, but we need to have a better relationship with them.’’