MINT HILL – The campaign for Mint Hill mayor is officially a three-person race. Richard “Fig” Newton, Brad Simmons and Karen Trauner have filed paperwork with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections to appear on the ballot.
Mayor Ted Biggers has decided not to run for an 11th term, opening the door for new leadership as Mint Hill faces increasing interest from developers and newcomers.
After four years on the Mint Hill Planning Board and four years as a town commissioner, Newton said he’s ready to become mayor.
“I want everybody on that board when I get there to have a yes or no on their own, not by my opinion but by their own opinion,” Newton said. “They ran to serve the people. They didn’t run to serve me.”
Newton wants to continue adding water and sewer infrastructure to the town, as well as finish up the park on Brief Road.
He’s proud that town commissioners gave residents the option to fund the park through a $15 million bond referendum last year. The majority of voters didn’t approve the bond.
Since announcing his plans to run at the start of the year,
Simmons has been attending social events asking people what they like about Mint Hill and what they don’t like about the town. The feedback he’s getting will shape his platform.
“I’m here to serve the people of Mint Hill, so I let them set the agenda,” Simmons said. “I intend to work with them to fix some of the opportunities they see that Mint Hill needs to take care.”
Simmons, a small business owner, serves on the Mint Hill Planning Board, which makes recommendations for commissioners to consider on rezoning issues.
Trauner expressed a hope to bring more transparency to the commission after members approved a rezoning for a proposed subdivision that would connect to her neighborhood.
In recent months, she’s had communication with leaders in town, neighboring towns and state agencies.
“I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research to get up to speed,” Trauner said. “Some of my major concerns are always thoughtful and careful growth, wise spending and promoting transparency in government.”
Her website, www.karentraunerformin thill.com, outlines several ideas, including increasing town amenities, establishing a master plan for the town, re-evaluating the issuance of variances in permitting and creating citizen committees to advise the board.
Candidates have until noon July 19 to turn in paperwork with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.
Mint Hill Commissioners
At least two new faces could join the four-seat Mint Hill Board of Commissioners, as Newton is running for mayor and Carl “Mickey” Ellington will not seek reelection.
Mike Cochrane, who is finishing his first term as commissioner, has not filed for reelection, leaving Dale Dalton as the only incumbent so far.
“I love this town,” Dalton said of his reason for seeking a third term. “Having two new seats coming up this term, I felt like we definitely needed to have some experience on there.”
Dalton is proud of approving a budget that allowed the town to add five new officers and three new firefighters, as well as providing the police department incentives that lead to better-trained officers.
He personally worked with the N.C. Department of Transportation to study and approve traffic lights on N.C. 51 and I-485 to improve mobility. These projects just need to get funding.
Dalton is involved in groups like the Mint Hill Historical Society, Mint Hill Masonic Lodge and the Mint Hill Lions Club.
Jessi Healey and Tony Long are the only challengers to step forward so far.
When Commissioner Tina Ross died, Healey felt as if there was a hole in the community. Having looked up to Ross and worked with her on her last campaign, Healey wants to help fill that void.
“My campaign is mostly based on community-led change,” Healey said. “Mint Hill is growing and we’re changing. I want to make sure the community voice is being heard in that and that Mint Hill is becoming what we want it to become.”
Being involved in social media management, she sees opportunities for the town to be more proactive in that exchange between the community and government.
Tony Long attributes his decision to run for town commissioner to peer pressure from the community. After all, he has served on the Mint Hill Planning Board for the past 12 years. He also serves on the board of directors for the Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce. He owns Mint Hill Tool Rental.
Long wants to ensure Mint Hill maintains a great quality of life.
“With the increasing population and the attractiveness of Mint Hill, there come some challenges as far as traffic and the ability to move about town,” Long said.
Meanwhile in Matthews
Gina Hoover entered the Matthews Board of Commissioners race on July 16, bringing the number of candidates up to nine. No one else has run for mayor outside of incumbent Paul Bailey and John Higdon.