MINT HILL – Karen Trauner never paid too much attention to the day-to-day inner workings of local government the first 10 years she called Mint Hill home. But all that changed almost two years ago when traffic from a second entrance for a proposed large subdivision impacted her small neighborhood.
Trauner, her husband Dave and some of her neighbors opposed having the traffic cut through their Jefferson Colony neighborhood and they took their concerns to the Mint Hill Board of Commissioners. Trauner said their concerns fell on deaf ears, and now two years later, the local businesswoman has announced she is running for mayor of Mint Hill.
Long-time resident and local businessman Brad Simmons has also announced his candidacy for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Ted Biggers has not announced whether he will seek an 11th term. The filing deadline is in July, and the election will be held in November.
“I got involved in politics because we felt the town made a very poor decision in regards to our neighborhood,” Trauner said. “I decided to become more proactive because by the time we realized what was going on, it was almost too late. That got me started reading the minutes from all of the board of commissioners’ meetings and attending the meetings. That gave me more of a window to voice my opinion.’’
Trauner said the town’s elected leaders need to be more transparent, stating only 12 of the 20 scheduled meetings of the board of commissioners were actually held last year and she thinks elected leaders should have more interaction with the town’s residents.
“Sometimes, I think things are really hidden here,” Trauner said. “There is also a lack of citizen involvement. There is not an economic development, a transportation or beautification committee people can join. There are too few committees. If you have more people involved with the town, that is better for everybody.”
Most months, the board of commissioners is scheduled to meet twice. The second meeting is usually canceled due to lack of town business.
“They might not have anything to discuss, but in a town this size, that is beyond me,” Trauner said. “But sometimes people have things that they want to say. If that meeting is scheduled, I would be there and be available to listen to concerns.”
If elected, Trauner said she would advocate that future commercial development in town be a mix of retail, independent restaurants and light industrial. She added that the downtown area already has too many fast food restaurants with drive-thru windows.
“I know everybody says they love the small town feel of Mint Hill, but that is in the back window,” Trauner said. “This whole downtown area here is starting to look like (Hwy) 74. I don’t feel like that is the right feel for a town to look like 74. I would love to see an economic development committee established to guide the town and to entice businesses to locate here.’’
Trauner opposed last November’s $15 million parks and recreation bond partly because the size of the proposed baseball stadium was changed from the original 750 seats to 2,500 with the expectation that a summer collegiate baseball league franchise would use the stadium. The proposal, which was defeated by the town’s voters, also included athletic fields on Brief Road.
Trauner said there is a need for additional athletic and park facilities for residents.
“I didn’t think the town was in the position to handle that (stadium) financially or staff-wise,” Trauner said. “I fought against that very hard, and we know what happened. If we can’t build that whole facility (Brief Road) at once, then let’s build it in pieces. We don’t have to do all four or five fields, the walking trails, all at once if the money isn’t there. We already own the land, let’s put the fields in when we can.”
Trauner also proposes adding funding for police, fire and EMT personnel.