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Politics

2019 Election: Matthews Board Of Commissioners

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There are six seats on the Matthews Board of Commissioners, not including mayor. Three incumbents are running for re-election. 

BEN BASH

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Credit Courtesy Ben Bash
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Courtesy Ben Bash

Why are you running?

Matthews is widely recognized for its quality of life, community and opportunities. Our Town Board has the privilege of being able to foster those aspects for the benefit of current and future residents of Matthews, but that will require thoughtfulness and intentionality. I believe that the primary responsibility of a Commissioner is to be a good steward of our town, who will work collaboratively and creatively to seek Matthews-centered solutions. I would consider it an honor and a privilege to serve a town that has provided so much to me and my family.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The biggest challenge is traffic, which brings both heavy use of Matthews roads as commuting thoroughfares between communities south of Matthews and Charlotte and a threat to the walkability of our town. The primary approach to this issue is to route thru-traffic around Matthews, rather than through it. We should pursue this strategy by advancing the Silver Line extension and working with the State to build-up alternate routes like 485 and 74. We should further augment this approach by reinforcing the residential nature and pedestrian-friendly use of those thoroughfares.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

We should consider how other towns have addressed this issue. But in doing so, we should be thoughtful and creative to consider solutions that are tailored to Matthews. As we think through potential solutions, I believe we should start with two matters: supply and variety. Matthews has a lower vacancy rate of available housing than surrounding communities and part of the solution should be to increase the amount of available housing to help alleviate the cost burden. Second, we should also pay attention to the type of housing to promote variety, including smaller, more affordable options.

 

DAVE BLAND

Why are you running?

I have the needed experience and I enjoy helping people.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

Traffic.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Slightly higher density with more mixed use development.

 

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Allen Crosby

ALLEN CROSBY

Why are you running?

No answer.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

Over crowding in schools. We must lower the amount of kids in classrooms to ease the burden on teacher as well as improve the quality of education that the child receives. The best way to do this is to build more classrooms and schools.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

The key is to increase supply. We need to invest in high density housing in areas that are best suited to accommodate it. i.e downtown Matthews and open lots that have easy access to US 74 and 485.

 

 

BARBARA DEMENT (incumbent)

Awaiting reply.

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Renee Garner

RENEE GARNER

Why are you running?

As a third-generation resident of Matthews, my roots run deep. I believe that Matthews is great in many ways: our schools, parks, and the multitude of small, locally-owned businesses. Even with the good, there are a few things that could be improved. I have experienced challenges with communication between our town's leaders and its citizens. I believe that the people of Matthews must have better access to the decision-making process. The town council must work as one with the residents to ensure that all are aware of what is happening related to growth, traffic/transportation, and housing realties. Town leadership is elected to serve all of Matthews and they must be accessible, accountable, and responsive, providing long-term results reflective of Matthews’ stakeholders. I am running because I want to listen and act on behalf of all of the citizens of Matthews.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

As the town grows, we must confront transportation issues head-on. We have an incredibly talented town staff, but we're relying on archaic NCDOT ideas and widening every possible corridor. Our transportation plan must go beyond a car-centric attitude. Wider roads and more cars will wreak havoc on our air quality, directly impact safety, and diminish the charm of Matthews.

We must work with CATS for more efficient bus routes. We must expedite the light rail to Matthews. Sidewalks should equally serve as transportation and recreation. Greenways are beautiful but are not an answer for someone who needs to get to a bus stop at 8 am.

Matthews is no longer a pedestrian-friendly town and that must be addressed. Since the last election, three pedestrians have died in Matthews. In the decade prior, there were four pedestrian deaths. This, I believe, is because of traffic, lack of speed enforcement, and inadequate funding for public works. Further funding the landscaping crew to keep branches off signs for better visibility is a start. Completing sidewalks in older neighborhoods is an excellent next step.

Low-cost solutions, if approached correctly, won't raise tax dollars but will have a lasting impact on quality of life.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

With growth and economic success in downtown Matthews, people are drawn to Matthews. Due to both the property revaluation and the construction of larger, more expensive homes, the land value has also increased. This process has created a market of homes sales that average $320,000.* As the town board, known for demanding higher-priced building materials from developers, we must to shift the conversation. A broader understanding of a particular building's use and lifespan provides context for construction needs. It is possible to have high-quality, well-designed, and well-built structures at a lower construction price point.

Also, I've urged the current council for the past year to work toward integrating moderate density development that keeps in scale with Matthews' charm. Ancillary housing could provide rental income for homeowners and fill a price gap with housing in Matthews.

Another approach to fill housing needs, would be to implement inclusionary zoning. With North Carolina as a semi-Dillon state, we must lobby the General Assembly for this municipal right. Chapel Hill, Manteo, and Davidson have already done so. We can look to them and learn from them, then, in turn, apply the process to Matthews. 

*https://www.redfin.com/city/10672/NC/Matthews/housing-market

GINA HOOVER

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Gina Hoover

Why are you running?

As a Matthews native, I want to serve the community I love. I have been active and outspoken about land development and other issues that have come before the council. I have been a strong voice for transparency in our government. I am the founder of MATTHEWS WATCH a website where I have spent the past six years exposing corruption, unethical behavior and current issues with the Town of Matthews. I believe government should be Transparent, Representative and Diverse and that leaders should have Good Morals and Strong Ethics.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

I would have to say, traffic. I realize development is essential for a growing and prosperous community. But, we cannot continue to approve new development without considering the impact to our town. If elected, as a Commissioner before approving any new development I would carefully consider the impact it would bring. It's essential that we focus on smart growth or otherwise we will have gridlock.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

One solution is supporting Habitat for Humanity here in Matthews, a non-profit that provides affordable housing to families in need. For those on a fixed income we can work with developers on affordable 55 plus communities. I like the idea of Lake Park which is located in Union County. It has high end homes, townhouses to starter homes, this is a great example of mixed use. We also need to be fiscally responsible by keeping property taxes low.

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Ken McCool

KEN McCOOL

Why are you running?

I love my hometown. As a lifelong resident of Matthews, I am committed to helping shape our future while also preserving the small town feel of our great town. Together, we can initiate responsible and sensible growth, maintain a strong budget that works for all, improve town infrastructure, and re-establish a positive relationship with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. I am running because it is imperative for our future to elect leadership that will best serve our town and the needs of our community. I am ready to help lead our community forward into a new era where all of our residents can thrive. Together, we will build our future.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The stalemate between Matthews and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Our current town leaders have created a deeper divide than ever before between our town and CMS. As a CMS grad, I know how important education is. It's important for our community. The best way to ensure a rich and equitable education is to rebuild and strengthen our relationship with CMS. We need to work with CMS leaders to better enhance and diversify our tremendous schools. It's imperative to our town, our town's budget and the overall success of our town's students. We need to do this now.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

This is a conversation well overdue for our community. It's unbelievable that those who serve and work for our town can't even afford to live here. That is wrong. We must work with developers and leaders to ensure that we are developing housing solutions that are more affordable for those who would like to be a part of our community. The sad reality is that Matthews doesn’t offer much in the way of affordable housing. I believe you shouldn’t have to earn a six figure salary to live here. I welcome more community conversations around this topic and believe that we need to work tirelessly and make our best effort to address this issue.

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Jeff Miller

JEFF A. MILLER (incumbent)

Why are you running?

We have accomplished a lot, but there is always more to do. Fact is, the Matthews Preserve & Protect before it's too late group, really wants to Preserve what this and prior Boards have created. A small Town that is walk-able, attractive, and filled with fine people attending Free Concerts & Festivals.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

Traffic comes to mind. We are working to divert Traffic around instead of thru Matthews by extending McKee Road from Pleasant Plains to John Street, and by the addition of the Weddington Road interchange at 485. Monroe Bypass is complete and Independence Blvd. will be widened soon... Let Union County Traffic learn a better way to get home around instead of thru Matthews.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Landowners have rights too. They can sell or build, often by right without government interference, nice homes. The cost of land in our area is high due to popularity and a high desire to live in Matthews. The only way I see, is to build smaller homes on smaller lots, creating an attainable product for the everyday worker or young manager.

 

MARK TOFANO

Why are you running?

I am a candidate for Commissioner in the town of Matthews in order to provide the citizens of Matthews with a more transparent government, to make all information about the town's finances, elected officials campaign reports, and possible conflicts of interest immediately accessible on the town's web site, real time.

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Mark Tofano

To provide safe and comfortable walking and bicycling between any two points within the town limits.

To improve the town of Matthews relationship with CMS.

To maintain or increase the tree canopy and to increase the neighborhood park inventory within the town.

To increase good paying jobs in our town so that people that live here can work here.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The town of Matthews claims to be a tree town where citizens can safely and comfortable walk or cycle within the town limits. In my opinion, it is not. It will be a long term and costly goal to reach, but it would be my primary focus to make this town truly one that protects and improves its tree canopy and provides walkways and bicycle paths for all of its citizens....especially that with physical disabilities.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

In order to have housing costs that are within the reach of all of our citizens, it will be necessary to have two vital components. One is land. The other is finding developers that are altruistic and that will work with the town to develop lower costs homes by reducing their margin of profit, to provide high quality neighborhood homes that could be purchased by those that work here, but cannot afford to live here. Especially or those that work in our fire and police departments and city administrative staff.

JOHN URBAN (incumbent)

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Credit Courtesy John Urban
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Courtesy John Urban

Why are you running?

To continue the great quality of life progress in the Town for citizens and visitors.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The ability to grow and still maintain the quality of life everyone enjoys. Being able to address transportation and infrastructure needs to support the QOL.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Modifications to the zoning ordinance to enhance reuse of current housing stock and provide incentives for more diverse housing types would be a start.

LARRY WHITLEY

Awaiting reply.

 

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