ELECTION 2021: Meet the Davidson town board candidates

DAVIDSON – Eight town residents are candidates in the Nov. 2 election for five seats on the Davidson town board.

The field includes current commissioners Jane Campbell and Autumn Rierson Michael and fellow candidates Jeff Boyd, Matthew Dellinger, Ryan Fay, Tracy Mattison Brandon, Tim Neal and Dan Ryan.

Three current board members – Matthew Fort, Jim Fuller and David Sitton – are not seeking new terms.

Early voting in the election begins Oct. 14 and continues through Oct. 30, with additional details available at mecknc.gov/boe.

For this article, the candidates were asked to submit a photograph, list their employment and community involvement history and, in the wording and format of their choice, respond to these inquiries:

  • Why are you the best choice to represent the people of Davidson?
  • What are the issues most important to you, and how should the town address them? 

Their responses, with candidates listed alphabetically, follow.

 

Jeff Boyd

I currently serve as manager of finance and special projects at E2D: Eliminate the Digital Divide, a Davidson non-profit providing refurbished computers to low-income families. Additionally, I own a boutique travel agency that plans active adventures in South America.  

This is my first foray into politics although I did serve in student government in high school, college and business school. I’ve always been one to get involved and challenge the status quo. I’m an active leader on two HOA boards in Davidson and have volunteered throughout the years on many local and global issues, most notably human trafficking.

The issues most important to me are pedestrian safety, economic development, sound financial management and affordable ‘living, not just housing.’ The Town should address them practically not politically. We need proper enforcement of many ordinances/laws and educational campaigns aimed at distracted drivers and pedestrians. We need more public parking, public transit options and sidewalk enhancements. More greenways, bike racks and a car-free downtown on weekends. We need to encourage businesses (especially restaurants) to extend operating hours/days and help new businesses get a foothold. 

The recent real estate boom could soon lead to higher taxes; we need financial minds on the board who will take their fiduciary responsibility seriously…to maintain a balanced budget without raising those taxes. We should seek instead to grow our commercial tax base, aiding the idea of affordable living. Many tough financial decisions are looming as well, related to bond obligations, lawsuits involving the Town and additional federal Covid-relief funding.    

My academic and professional background in business, non-profit administration, project management and public relations make me well-equipped for this role. My passion for people and service, coupled with my high-energy, get-it-done mentality and the ability to juggle many balls at once while digesting a steady stream of information make me well-suited to represent the people of Davidson.

 

Tracy Mattison Brandon

Administrator/Associate Minister at Gethsemane Baptist Church of Lake Norman. Community involvement includes:

• board member of Davidson Lifeline

• Davidson Housing Coalition Homelessness Task Force

• Town Neighborhood representative for Davidson West

• member of town Mental Health & Wellness committee

  • working with town staff on community initiatives
  • regular participant in Davidson Connections 
  • community outreach collaborations with nonprofits 

While this is my first time seeking public office, I view it as a call to serve with a team of commissioners working together to address important community issues and preserve, what I call, “the heart and spirit” of Davidson while acting in the best interest of citizens. The following are issues I consider important:

  • Creating and maintaining affordable housing including senior housing through collaborations, efforts to hold property managers accountable, and assessment to identify a more realistic definition of affordable housing. 
  • Increasing pedestrian safety measures by addressing blind spots, increase caution signs and create awareness through public service announcements 
  • Increasing community engagement across all neighborhoods by enlisting neighborhood advocates, neighborhood meetings to disseminate communications and make inquiries.

It is my passion to continue to serve, engage and enhance our community in a greater capacity. I have over 35 years of experience in leadership and community involvement. I have a strong commitment to bridge generational, ethnic and social divides. I believe there is power in diversity (in thought, experience, culture, ethnicity, ages, socioeconomic status), and that everyone deserves to be heard. One of my greatest strengths is the ability to bring people together for the common good. I have been described as principled, idealistic, conscientious and ethical.

At the heart of who I am, I am a community advocate and servant leader who believes in community engagement, collaboration and empowerment. I would consider it an honor and privilege to be elected to serve on the Board of Commissioners.

 

Jane Campbell

I’m Jane Campbell and I’m running for re-election to the Davidson Town Board. 

Over the past four years, I have been proud to be a member of the Town Board – a board that has tried to balance preserving our history with the pressures of development, hired an Affordable Housing & Equity Director, purchased a historic building to serve as our new town hall and helped guide our community during COVID. 

In 2018 Mayor Knox appointed me as the Town’s elected representative to the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) as well as the Lake Norman Transportation Commission (LNTC) – the only commissioner with two such appointments. I served as the Chair of LNTC from late 2019 through June 2021.

Additionally, not related to my role as a Davidson Town Board member, I serve on the North Carolina Veterans Affairs Commission. I was appointed the Chair in 2019. This organization provides oversight for our state veterans homes and cemeteries, as well as the scholarship program for children of N.C. wartime veterans.

If elected, I would work with my new colleagues on some important issues such as:

– Preserving existing and creating more Affordable Housing 

– Implementing the recommendations of the Pedestrian Safety Task Force

– Working with the owner and developers on a plan for commercial space on historic Main Street 

– Providing oversight to the ongoing town renovation projects

– Affirming the dignity and equality of all persons

– Finding a long-term solution for the Linden Mill (the former asbestos plant)

– Balancing the pressures of development and the historic character of our town

 

Now, more than ever, we need leadership and experience. We need board members who can and will devote time and energy to the work of our Town. I hope I can earn your vote. Thank you.

 

Matthew Dellinger

Profession, employment: Attorney/Owner at Dellinger Law, PLLC

Past community, political involvement: Town Planning Board (member, 2017-present; Chair, 2018-present); Mobility Plan Stakeholder Committee and subcomittee; Growth Management Committee; Ordinance Committee); Board of Adjustment (member, 2017-present; Chair, 2018-Present); Davidson College Presbyterian Church (Elder, 2020-present; Endowment Committee; Day of Service Co-Chair).

After graduating from Davidson College and USC Law and working for years in other cities, my wife and I returned to Davidson to raise a family. There is a necessary humility to being an effective leader in a representative capacity such as Town Commissioner, particularly in Davidson where we are fortunate to have many knowledgeable, wise and engaged citizens. In five years serving on the Planning Board, I have made deliberate efforts to consistently be prepared, to recognize the ends of my own knowledge and where others have expertise, to respectfully question others in pursuit of a healthy and robust process and to appreciate the diverse audience of stakeholders with different positions and incentives. My demonstrated leadership style, experience of respectful, disciplined service to the community, and knowledge and appreciation of our local government and procedures make me one of the five best candidates to continue to serve the Town on the Board of Commissioners.

Our town has benefitted from years of deliberate, thoughtful planning, leadership and informed citizen engagement to help craft where we are today and our path ahead. We have citizen-driven plans we’ve adopted and plans that are still being formulated. I hope to help shepherd the implementation of community plans through objective, disciplined and studied leadership and direction, including key parts of the Mobility Plan and Comprehensive Plan. Doing so gives life to those plans and will yield gains on critical issues, including improved infrastructure, more desirable and sustainable development, expanded affordable housing and enhanced equity, while realizing the efforts of many citizens and respecting where constraints on authority exist.

 

Ryan Fay

My family has lived in Davidson for seven years. We currently reside in the Kimberly/Hudson Place neighborhood.

Professionally, I serve as the Director of Business Operations for the Scott Clark Auto Group. In this capacity, I manage the day-to-day operations of three dealerships. This includes managing multi-million-dollar monthly budgets and making decisions that impact our business and its 500 employees. I believe that having a proven and pragmatic business leader is an important element of a diverse Board. I have created and manage an internship program in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Union County Public Schools for students interested in the automotive trades or marketing/business. I have managed our company through hurricanes, tsunamis and the current pandemic, and I believe the skills I have developed are unparalleled.

This is not my first time running for commissioner. I also ran in 2017. While I did not win, I am extremely proud that one of my top campaign ideas, “Community Dinners: Breaking Bread, Building Friendships,” was implemented by the new board in 2018. I served on the Committee responsible for planning the events which brought neighbors from all parts of Davidson together to connect. That program is what led to my campaign slogan, “Building Longer Tables, Not Higher Walls.” I want to increase community involvement and connectedness. I believe as a board we must continue to focus on improving our affordable housing program so everyone has an opportunity to live in our small, college town. We must also improve our infrastructure which has not kept pace with recent population growth and must make pedestrian safety a top priority. I want to work closely with our Economic Development Department to drive business opportunities which will increase our commercial tax base and relieve tax pressure on our residents.

Please visit my website, www.fayforcommissioner.com, for more information.

 

Autumn Rierson Michael

As a two-term incumbent, I’ve spent the last four years as a member of the Davidson Town Board, gaining a deeper understanding of the complex issues now facing Davidson. I’ve also been engaged in public service in Davidson for over a decade as a volunteer (Davidson Planning Board, chair of Davidson K-8’s School Leadership Team and Elder at DCPC), and professionally as past Executive Director of the Davidson Lands Conservancy. Previously, I worked as a land use attorney and have taught land use and historic preservation law as an adjunct at UNC Greensboro and UPenn collectively for two decades. 

Four years ago, I first campaigned on a platform of “people, preservation, place” because I believe those constitute the core elements of any strong town. In reflecting back, I still believe that if we invest in those, we can tackle many of the biggest issues facing Davidson, including: 

1) Inclusivity and Affordable Housing: It is a key priority to make Davidson an inclusive and welcoming place for all. I am proud that during my previous tenure on the own board, we institutionalized our affordable housing program with the hiring of a full-time Affordable Housing and Equity Director, as well as creating a standing Affordable Housing advisory board. We have more work to do, however, with units on the ground, including new-build owner and rental housing, as well as for the preservation of our naturally occurring affordable housing (NOAH), particularly in West Davidson.

2) Sustainability: Another key priority must be sustainability and adapting for climate change. In our previous term, we passed a stronger tree ordinance, hired a new arborist town employee and gave significant funding to TreesDavidson to help support the preservation of our tree canopy. In the coming years, we also need to work through our Comp Plan goals related to future sustainability and carbon neutrality, including creating sidewalk and greenway extensions and improvements that promote alternative modes of transportation to vehicle use.

3) Preserving Community Character & Managing Growth: We accomplished a great deal this term related to preservation, including expanding our local historic district and purchasing the South Street school for our public facilities needs. Of course, there is more work to do in implementing a Historic Preservation Plan that is currently being created, as well as creating a new Sewer and Water (USAC) policy to help manage growth and provide more certainty to landowners.

 

Tim Neal

Vice President, Toter, a division of Wastequip: Retail and Professional business

List of community involvement: I have lived in Davidson for over 11 years. In those years, I have volunteered and contributed to Ada Jenkins, Team Summit and A Giving Spirit foundation. Also, nationally, I support and contribute to Warriors SOAR, a veterans foundation that assists wounded heroes in outreach assistance and recovery.

I have been in sales and executive leadership throughout my career. My work experience has been in domestic and international business development. I’ve worked with large public, private equity and family owned businesses in my career. The town needs leaders to have a business lens in making town decisions. As Commissioner, I will be able to evaluate the revenue risk versus rewards in decision making. My experience will benefit the town in exploring land development, diversifying the tax base to attract more corporate and retail partners and looking at existing town planning ordinances to see if the current ordinances are favorable or unfavorable in expanding future economic viability. 

As a Davidson Town Commissioner, I will work hard to continue building a community that is: economically viable, environmentally aware and sustainable for the future.

Top issues:

1.Build and maintain streets and sidewalks that are safe for people walking, bicycling and, including any and all assistive devices.

  1. Create a range of affordable housing opportunities and choices for all families in communities throughout Davidson.
  2. Diversify the tax base with additional corporate and retail partners.
  3. Protect open spaces by extending the greenway and expanding parks, including dog parks.

 

Dan Ryan

I am the son of a NYPD Detective and Registered Nurse. My wife Kelly and I have been married for 15 years and have two wonderful daughters. I graduated Binghamton State University with almost $40k in student loan debt. I got to work in the IT industry as the dot com bubble was inflating and have managed to navigate a career that includes more successes than challenges. I’ve learned that collaboration is paramount to progress, and value must be unlocked in any transaction to realize success. All parties involved in a transaction, project or relationship must understand value to deem it successful. I hope my candidacy will bring pragmatism and balance to our government.    

I have introduced ideas to help our special town manage through realized and expected growth. I would like to see a comprehensive traffic plan instituted; economic diversity realized; our tree canopy preserved; and I would like to see Davidson prioritize bike and pedestrian safety.

Since moving to Davidson in 2014 I have served on the River Run POA, I am a board member at the Dilworth Center and coach girls’ recreation soccer. Davidson is such a unique and historic place. I have enjoyed being involved in our community and hope to further serve this wonderful place we call home. At the forefront of my commissionership will be the interests of all citizens throughout Davidson.

I am an outsider to Davidson politics. I offer voters a fresh perspective on local government. I promise transparency and a bias toward action to solve our collective challenges. Davidson has grown 40 percent in just one census cycle. At this rate, we will be over 20k residents by 2030. Our government must take action to support the growth we have experienced while properly preparing for the future. I hope to gain your support!

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