MOORESVILLE – Mooresville candidates hoping for a spot on either the Mooresville Board of Commissioners or the Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education participated in a candidate forum led by Iredell County Television and Lake Norman Indivisible on Sept. 12.

Deb Edmonds, co-founder of Lake Norman Indivisible, said it was important to introduce the candidates before the primaries or Election Day.

“There are a lot of people here, both very new and those seasoned with politics – but don’t be afraid to tell your story from the heart, that’s why we’re here,” she said. “It’s important to know who you all are, so we appreciate your interest.”

MGSD candidates hope to support educators

Greg Whitfield and Leon Pridgen from the MGSD Board of Education were the only incumbents present who are running for re-election. The two are up against Katie Pettigrew and Keturah Rucker for seats on the board.

Whitfield is the board’s vice-chair. He said his family has gone through four generations of MGSD.

“My desire is to serve my community, and it is cultivated by my faith,” he said. “We have worked hard to keep Mooresville schools safe and work closely with the Mooresville Police Department. Currently we have a (anti) bullying program we have launched to make sure every child feels safe within our classrooms.”  

Pridgen also wants to continue the work the board has done.

“Our school district is not perfect, but it’s a place where people want to bring their kids,” he said. “We want to continue that culture. We have incredible educators. Everyone in the school district compliments the culture – from the people in administration to current and past leaders, classroom teachers and custodians who keep our schools clean every day – it’s our job, as board members, to continue to build on those relations.”

Scarlett Inman and Kerry S. Pennell are competing to finish out the term of Larry Wilson, who left the board earlier this year.

Political newcomers Rucker, Pettigrew, Pennell and Inman spoke about bringing a new and fresh perspective to the school board.

“I’m a product of the public schools,” Pettigrew said. “I will fight for ways to provide a sense of comfort and ensure students continue to receive excellent education. I want to continue the integrity of the schools.”

Inman said she has experience with Mooresville schools as she’s been on the parent board at school.

“I want to be there for the educators,” Inman said. “At the end of the day, teachers need to know that we have their back, and we will be able to help the teachers make sure they’re getting the support they need.”

Pennell said her passion for education and an awareness of what’s going on within MGSD schools is what led her to run.
“I’m very excited to be here tonight,” she said. “I’m about every child, every day, and I would represent the district by being engaged and involved on a daily basis. My children are my learning curve when it comes to public schools.”

Rucker, who works at a bank, said the biggest issue facing youth is the lack of knowledge of financial literacy and handwriting.

“I see the world changing around us. Our youth will grow and one day face adulthood. It is up to us to make sure they have everything they need to be successful,” Rucker said. “A lot of that success comes from management and financial planning. I will address this problem and make sure our youth are advised in financial literacy before the end of their grade school career.”

Commissioners want to be the voice

The commissioner candidates all spoke about being the voice for the community.

“I want to serve my community on multiple fronts, and I look forward to giving new ideas to the council,” said Lounce Rucker, who is running for the Ward Three seat against Barbara Whittington and incumbent Danny Beaver. Whittington and Beaver were not present at the forum.

“As a veteran of this country, I know what it means to serve,” Rucker added. “I want to make sure that everyone in this community has equal opportunity for success.”

Michael Goudreault wants to make sure there is more connectivity among residents. He is running for Ward Four against incumbent Lisa Qualls, who did not attend the forum.

“I’ve been here for 20 years,” Goudreault said. “I learned a lot about local government both in my time in and out of law school. I talk to people on both sides of town, and they don’t feel connected to the downtown area. I want to connect the two and encourage them to see downtown can be a place for them, too.”

Commissioner-at-large candidates vying for a seat are Jeremy Katz, Scott Kazura, Angela Carruba Stutts, Gary West and Karls Schwalb. They said they were all ready to accept the challenge and represent the people of Mooresville.

“I want this to be a place where my girls want to come back to,” Katz said. “I want to make sure we have enough housing and affordable housing so everyone has the chance to make Mooresville their home.”

Stutts wants to improve traffic conditions.

“I know a lot of people have concerns about the traffic issues and patterns,” Stutts said. Stutts spoke about the issues of making sure traffic and walk lights work together.

Others want to listen to resident concerns.

“To be successful, I will be the ear to all the residents,” Schwalb said. “I can be that ear – day and night – because I am retired and will be able to give that time.”

Kazura also wants everyone involved.

“I have a passion for the community,” Kazura said. “There is a lot to do here in Mooresville, and I want to make sure everyone in our community, including teens and kids have a place here.”

West, who is also running for the position, said he could not make it at the forum because of work related to Hurricane Irma.

“Regrettably I could not attend,” West said in an email. “I had hurricane assessment calls this evening as I have people that have to go back into Georgia and Florida, and I must make a decision on their well-being. Their welfare had to come first this evening.”

Mayoral candidates vye to bring change

Mayoral candidates C.J. Zethof, James “Toodles” Ritchie and Thomas Thon said they also hope to be the voice of the people.

Ritchie told of his desires to “make Mooresville great again.”

He added,  “I’ve lived here all my life, and I like to work with people. Everything works better when you’re a team player.”

Thon is hoping to bring something different.

“I’m very cognizant,” Thon said, “Life comes down to who, what, where, why and how much. I plan to be ethically honest. I think the town needs a change.”

Safety and transparency are among Zethof’s main platforms as well.

“I’ve been a resident of Mooresville for six years,” Zethof  said. “I want to make sure everyone feels safe. I also think there should be more transparency in town, and I hope to bring that issue to light.”

Incumbent Mayor Miles Atkins was not present for the forum.

Primaries for Mooresville mayor, commissioner at-large and commissioner for Ward 4 will be held Oct. 10. Early voting starts Sept. 21. Top vote-getters of those elections will then go on the ballot for the Nov. 7 election day, which will also have the races for Mooresville Commissioner Ward 4, the school board seats and the un-expired school board seat.


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