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Politics

2019 Election: Matthews Mayor

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Two candidates are running for mayor of Matthews, including the incumbent.

Matthews Mayor John Higdon
John Higdon

JOHN HIGDON

Why are you running?

I believe Matthews needs a course correction in two main areas.  First, we need to re-establish a working, collaborative relationship with CMS, our largest educational partner.  The town's endorsement of HB 514, which I did not support, has strained our relationship with the CMS Board and caused them to prioritize all future capital funding to projects in Charlotte, Davidson, and Pineville.  My opponent supports HB 514 which gives Matthews the option of building municipal (town run) charter schools, but this is not really a viable economic option because it would necessitate a massive tax increase.  It would also re-segregate our schools and would not ease CMS overcrowding because other students in the county would be assigned to the open positions created when our students left to attend the town charters.  Essentially, we would be taxed twice for the same service.  Secondly, we need to bank additional land now for future use as parks. Developers are purchasing the few remaining pieces of undeveloped land in town, and at least some of it needs to be reserved for green spaces.  Our current park inventory is less in acreage than what most professionals recommend for even our current population, which is growing.  

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

Traffic continues to be the number one quality of life issue mentioned in our citizen surveys.  I will encourage NCDOT to complete the multiple projects scheduled for our area including the South Trade Street bridge, McKee Road extension, Independence Boulevard widening and Weddington Road interchange. These projects will encourage traffic to move around Matthews instead of through it.  I am also hopeful that the thoughtful, well-landscaped two-lane East John Street solution (similar to Colony Road in Charlotte) we proposed will be adopted by NCDOT.  The hope is that the majority of pass-through traffic will move to 485 to the south and Highway 51 to the north ends of John Street, both leading to a widened Independence Boulevard expressway.  Again this will encourage traffic to move around Matthews and not through it.  Some, and especially our younger generation, have embraced traffic calming practices such as ride-sharing, scooters, cycling, walking and using public transportation.  I will continue my support for the construction of multi-use paths which will eventually connect most areas of interest in our town and not require the use of a motor vehicle.  The Silver Line will also offer some relief, but it unfortunately many years away from being built. 

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Making affordable housing readily available is not an easy task.  Unfortunately, housing costs have outpaced income for many years.  It is a shame that many of our public servants (police, fire, EMS) and blue-collar workers cannot afford to live in Matthews.  There are no easy answers, but when elected I will convene an Affordable Housing Task Force to generate some possible solutions, starting with a housing needs assessment.  Ideas for consideration might include low income tax credits, procuring local, state and federal grants or loans (Housing and Urban Development, Community Development Block Grants, etc.), public-private partnerships such as Mosaic Development Group, engaging religious institutions to build affordable housing, refurbishing and using abandoned or otherwise unoccupied properties,  and identifying other possible development resources that can provide funding and land.  One thing is certain, we can not ignore the crisis of the lack of affordable housing.   

PAUL BAILEY (incumbent)

Awaiting response.

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