ELECTION 2021: Meet the Huntersville town board candidates

HUNTERSVILLE – Thirteen town residents have filed as candidates in the Nov. 2 election for six seats on the Huntersville town board.

The field includes current commissioners Dan Boone, Lance Munger, Stacy Phillips and Nick Walsh and fellow candidates Jenn Davis, Taylor Brock Hutto, Rob Kidwell, Amber Kovacs, Derek Partee, Nancy Reed, Eric Rowell, Joe Sailers and Patrick Chance Thomas.

Commissioner Brian Hines is not seeking another term and Commissioner Melinda Bales is a candidate for mayor.

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

For this article, candidates were asked to submit a photograph, summarize 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 Huntersville?
  • What are the issues most important to you, and how should the town address them? 

Their responses, with candidates listed alphabetically, follow.

Dan Boone

Retired with over 30 years of experience in the retail food industry

  • Town Commissioner since 2015
  • Huntersville’s Public Safety Liaison to Police and Fire Departments
  • Town Representative: Lake Norman Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Past Chair: Huntersville Ordinances Advisory Board
  • Past Vice-Chair: Huntersville Planning Board, Huntersville Board of Adjustments
  • Volunteer: Olde Huntersville Historic Society, Rotary Club of Lake Norman – Huntersville, Huntersville Police Department, North Meck Crime Stoppers and Angels and Sparrows

I believe I am the best candidate because of my unique experience and my proven track record over six years as a Commissioner.  

Over the last six years, we’ve worked hard to improve public safety through efforts such as building a much-needed new fire station, made our town more fiscally responsible and saved hundreds of thousands in tax dollars by cutting unnecessary spending. What I’m most proud of is we’ve accomplished all of this without increasing taxes.

My years of volunteer experience in our community and my six years as a Commissioner give me a unique understanding of both what makes Huntersville special and the unique challenges we face.

Priority issues:

  1. Crime and Public Safety – The number one priority of town government should be to keep citizens safe. Huntersville ranks among the safest towns in NC, but we are facing challenges that come with growth as well as crime spilling over from Charlotte. We must ensure our police, firefighters & EMS always have the resources needed to keep us safe and know we will always have their backs.
  2. Roads and Infrastructure – Everyone knows the headaches we endure and the challenges we face when it comes to roads and infrastructure. As a town, we must partner with NCDOT and allocate funds necessary to move key road projects up the state’s priority “ranking” so our key projects are completed sooner.
  3. Parks and Greenways – We have an excellent parks and greenways system that ensures our citizens enjoy a high quality of life. As this region continues to grow, we must keep it that way!

Jennifer  “Jenn” Davis

Account Executive at Modular Designs – Fancy title for salesperson.

I have served on the Planning Board for five years nominated by my peers as Chairman and Vice Chairman. Served on multiple sub committees under the Planning Board’s direction. 

I work with women in the community to help them recover from addiction. I have volunteered for multiple professional positions including Secretary of CSI (Construction Specification Institute).  

I am running for the office of Commissioner because I love this town. My goal is not to get elected and change everything. I love it the way it is and want to be part of its future. Now, there are a few things I would like to see improved and that is our Downtown.

The current board has worked toward this goal and recently appointed a committee to examine the area to decide what the future downtown looks like. As a planning board member I will be allowed the opportunity to provide comments and engage with the citizens. I am enthusiastic about this opportunity.

I would like to see our Downtown keep its historical charm, but incorporate a thriving retail and restaurant component. We can do this by increasing density and economic development. In addition to downtown development, I would like to see the town work toward more affordable home options so that we can all live, play and work here. We can do this by mixing housing options within a development. This is done in multiple neighborhoods already but we need to do more to bring a variety of housing prices. Many of our officers live outside of Huntersville and I would like to see more of them stay local. I respect and appreciate our local heroes and want to see them live in the community they serve.

We are growing into a city very quickly and this requires a Commissioner who understands the planning process, has experience leading a team and works with board members to find solutions.

Taylor Brock Hutto

Profession: Human Resources

Volunteer: Camp EDvantage

As a young candidate and Huntersville native, I have come to the realization of just how important representation of my demographic is. If elected, I will bring a fresh perspective to our Town Board.

I am passionate about Huntersville, in regards to both the future and the past that created the town we live in today. We have a rich history, and a community filled with character and charm; I am running in hopes to help preserve that. When asked, “Why are you the best candidate,” my answer is simple and always the same: this election has many strong candidates, each bringing our own strengths to the table; the diversity of thought, experience and perspective is how we will create a strong Board. For me, that strength is my ability to build relationships, overcome adversity and my passion for problem solving. This skill set will be valuable when listening to the needs/concerns of our constituents and advocating for those citizens to not only fellow Board Members, but when working with other municipalities and state boards as well.

The following issues are at the top of my mind:

  1. Infrastructure (sidewalks, roads, transportation, etc.) – These directly affect the livelihood and safety of our citizens. I would do my best to work with appropriate parties prioritizing these projects.
  2. Development (land-use, zoning ordinances, etc.) – I would like to ensure future projects fit into their surroundings and would love to see our history preserved while welcoming new businesses to balance the housing growth we have experienced in the last several years.
  3. Transparency – Our citizens lead busy lives and trust their elected officials to make them aware of town happenings; information should be easily accessible and I will strive to make this possible.

You can find my contact information on my website: huttoforhuntersville.com.

Rob Kidwell

Profession:  Manufacturing Plant Manager.

Former Town of Huntersville Commissioner (2013-2017), Appointed: Mecklenburg County Industrial Facilities and Pollution Control Financing Authority (2012-2018) / Appointed: League of Municipalities Tax and Finance Committee (2014-2017) / Appointed: CRTPO Representative (2015-2017).  

I am asking for your support in this election for the following reasons. As a former commissioner, I am familiar with our town’s governmental process. I have continued to form positive relationships with many of our local and state elected officials (current and former), helping pave the way for better communication and collaboration. My 20 years in manufacturing management and business development has allowed me the ability to understand and work with people from different backgrounds, for a common goal.

Huntersville faces many obstacles and challenges, and each one is uniquely important to our community.

Important issues like transparency:  We need to stream the 3 on 3 meetings commissioners are having behind closed doors; Fiscal responsibility: It’s time to pull back the purse strings on what the town manager can spend without letting the board know (currently it’s 50,000 dollars), or build a $14-18 million town hall that may only be partially finished; Control our growth and infrastructure: our ordinances that allow continued high density development need to be addressed; Environmental safety: Protect the people’s right to speak at town meetings and support our first responders.

These are issues that have been and will continue to be items I work on.

To learn more about me, please check out my website www.voterobkidwell.com, find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/voterobkidwell, twitter.com/roblkidwell and Instagram @voterobkidwell.

Amber Kovacs

Profession, Employment: Exceptional Children Pre-K Teacher, CMS.

I am a founding member of the Save Downtown Huntersville movement.

I am a great choice to represent Huntersville because I have nothing to gain but helping residents and the town as a whole. I want people to feel part of the decision-making process. Also, we need someone willing to stand up and say “no” when that is what needs to be said.

The issues most important to me are:

To improve transparency between the town and its residents. Requiring open lines of communication will improve outcomes for all. Each town resident should have access to those making decisions on his/her behalf as well as all the information used to make said decisions.

To stop overdevelopment that is happening rapidly and ceaselessly. I support smart development and growth, which has positive outcomes for current and surrounding residents. While I understand that our town is continually changing, I want every high-density rezoning decision to be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

To improve infrastructure from one end of town to the other. We need to work on improving our roads, but we also must make sidewalks more accessible for all. I believe in strong representation and relationships with CRTPO and with NCDOT and using appropriate town funds to improve infrastructure.

To halt plans for a brand new town hall. Taking into consideration the town staff needs and the current construction costs, the current plan for a new town hall is simply a rushed job. We need to revisit the location and costs, as the current plan does not guarantee a finished building. That will ultimately cost residents more to complete.

Lance Munger

​​Profession, employment:

IT – Business Intelligence Architect, Arete Incident Response

I have served as a City Clerk, was a member of the Mecklenburg County ISTAC (Information Services and Technology Advisory Committee), completed an internship at the Colorado State Capitol and worked at the Social Security Administration, U.S. Senate and the U.S. Capitol Police.

I have also done volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity, Bags of Hope and Angels & Sparrows locally.

As your Huntersville Commissioner, I have made it a priority for our town to:

  • Break ground on the Rosedale Nature Park.
  • Make a significant improvement to the Tree Save policy.
  • Break ground on the long anticipated Main Street project.
  • Make significant progress on a plan to revitalize downtown Huntersville.
  • Ensure that our town maintains a balance between sound fiscal policy and delivering much needed infrastructure improvements.
  • Listen to the people of Huntersville to ensure that all voices are heard.

Most important issues:

  • Expanding the current Greenway and Bike Trails system in Huntersville.
  • Building sidewalks to make Huntersville a more interconnected, walkable community.
  • Pushing back against reckless residential development in areas where it does not belong.
  • Working with our Police Department to find innovative new ways to serve our community.

Derek Partee

Profession: Retired Federal and State Criminal Investigator, Licensed North Carolina Private Investigator 4737

Community Service:

Presently serving on the Huntersville Town Planning Board.

Served on the Huntersville Charter School Commission.

Served on the Huntersville 2040 Plan Citizens Advisory Board. 

Volunteer with the North Mecklenburg Communities United Civic Organization. 

I’m the best candidate with over 35 years of public service employment. I have the integrity, experience and trusted reputation to represent the citizens of Huntersville. My first executive title was Assistant to the Commissioner with the Town of Hempstead, N.Y. The duties entailed budgeting and appropriating funds for town projects, reviewing departmental goals and setting long range planning for the employment and training of the Towns under-served communities. My Law Enforcement duties required management of major criminal cases as the lead Detective. I am skilled and trained to interact with the public, i.e. victims, witnesses, families, district attorneys, defense attorneys, news media and criminal defendants. My social interaction and communication with all diverse communities and ethnicities as a Detective is an important life skill in my resume. 

I will represent effectively with empathy, listening, and delivering on your issues, that’s my road map to be successful and the best candidate. 

Most important issues:

Infrastructure: The Huntersville communities have expressed their concerns regarding the main and local thoroughfares unable to support and sustain present and future development. North Carolina will receive approximately 12 billion dollars from the US Infrastructure Bill. As Commissioner, lobbying our state representatives to get our allotted funding is important. 

Safety: With increasing community growth and development our Police and Fire department capabilities to protect lives and property will need to be periodically accessed. I have 30 years of law enforcement experience which will help as we continue to expand our commercial businesses, connect greenways, build recreational parks and family entertainment hubs.  

Stacy Phillips

Profession, employment: Old Store Produce (family owned and operated)

Community engagement: I’ve been involved with local politics since before I could vote; I’ve never missed volunteering or voting in a Huntersville Election. I’ve spent my life dedicated to helping our community, especially those facing homelessness. I’m the founder of Connect Meck with Kindness and currently serve on the board of Block Love Charlotte and am the town’s representative for the Ada Jenkins Center.

No person is better than another, however, I offer a fresh perspective of citizen-first governing. Over my first term, I have strived to not just be a “mouth,” but “ears” and to reflect the citizens’ wishes in my votes; I work for you. I’m also unique because I’m currently the only town commissioner that is under 50 and/or from here; two perspectives that are needed to balance the board.

Most important issues:

New Town Hall:  The price of $14+ million is too high for the board to decide alone; it needs to be a referendum for citizens to vote on.

No New Taxes:  I would like to see us stay on this path by continuing to focus on stable budgets and managing current and future spending.

Ocular Melanoma Cancer Cluster: We must continue to advocate for research funding from the NC General Assembly.

Magistrate in Huntersville: I will work with the state, county and surrounding towns to obtain this desperately needed legal service that will increase public safety.

With limited space and much to say, please visit my website, electstacyphillips.com to learn more or to discuss issues that you care about.

Nancy Reed

Nancy Reed filed as a candidate, but has not been actively campaigning and did not respond to the emailed request for information.

Eric Rowell

I am running for Huntersville Commissioner because I bring a unique perspective and approach to the town board no one else running brings. My platform is simple – transparency and accountability. We need to do a better job of monitoring how we spend tax dollars here in Huntersville and we need to stop making so many decisions behind closed doors.

I have served on the town’s Board of Adjustment, the Huntersville Educational Options Study Commission and the 2040 Plan Steering Committee, and I have also moderated the Huntersville Politics group on facebook for the past four years helping to make more people aware of what is going on at town hall, so I have the requisite experience to get started on day 1 working to solve the problems that matter to Huntersville residents.

My wife and I have lived in Huntersville since 2013 and are raising our two daughters here – they both attend Barnette Elementary. Just say NO to a new town hall.

Please visit my website – www.electericrowell.com or “like” my campaign page on FB – @electericrowell to learn more about my campaign. Remember the Miscreants!

Joe Sailers

Community Involvement:

• Member of Huntersville Planning Board 12 years

• The first Chairman and member of Mecklenburg County Recycling Committee

• The first Safety Manager for City of Charlotte

• Past President, North Carolina American Society of Safety Engineers

• Past Lt. Governor, North Carolina Optimist International

• Past President, Derita-Statesville Road Community Association

• Past President, Long Creek Community Association

• Baseball, basketball, softball coach of boys and girls teams 12-plus years

• Worked on many campaigns in the past, both Republican and Democrat, such as: Liz Hair. John Belk, Ken Harris, Harvey Gantt, Sue Myrick, Tom Tillis, Elizabeth Dole

Employment: City of Charlotte, 20 years Accountant, Safety Manager • Shook Building Group, Safety Manager, Carrier, Safety Officer • Walker & Associates, OSHA, Trainer, Inspector, Auditor, Compliance, etc. • Insurance Broker / Agent • Bonitz Contracting, Production Manager • Terry’s Flooring, Branch Manager #1.

Best Choice – As a member of the Planning Board almost 12 years, and with my involvement in the construction industry, I have seen firsthand the damage that has happened to our town.

Priority issues:

1. Road improvements not made and the increase in density that is strangling our roads.

2. Infrastructure – I pleaded for change in 2017, 2019, when I ran but was not elected because of the many promises made by incumbents that, as you know, have not come to be. Yes, they are starting on the bridge at Exit 23 and Main Street improvements, spending tax dollars that should have been supplemented by all the development.

Patrick Chance Thomas

Software company Risk Management Consultant; certified Fraud Examiner and Anti-money Laundering Specialist with a BAS in information technology and CyberSecurity and experience in project management and team building.

I support animal shelters across the United States and am a lifelong supporter of St Judes Children’s Hospital. Locally, my family and I participate in the annual Angels and Sparrows Turkey Trot.

As a Mortgage Bankers Association member I have lobbied for job opportunities and creation through smarter legislation.

I believe people we elect should be transparent about processes and decision making. That is how I would be as an elected official – making decisions with full transparency. I would not make any decisions that affect thousands of people behind closed doors nor would I vote for any such project without asking for citizens input.

I wouldn’t pretend to know what people want or what is in their best interests.

Top issues:

Traffic/Infrastructure: Our town has outgrown its roads and is now trying to play catch up to get where we should have been years ago. We need to solve issues before they become problems. We are long overdue for wider roads, shoulders, more sidewalks and bike lanes.

We also need commissioners with lobbying experience to ensure projects on state owned roads are fast tracked and funds are appropriated for those overdue projects. As someone with lobbying in his background I would take full advantage of that opportunity to deliver better roads to our town.

School Choice:  We need to take advantage of HB514 – which gives us the ability to operate an in town charter school. CMS currently has the highest number of poor performing schools in the state. Their grasp on our local schools and unwillingness to invest in them have forced many families here to use the lottery system to get their children into charter schools outside of Huntersville.

Implementation of HB514 is the solution to this problem.

Taxes: I am opposed to any tax increases – proposed or otherwise. Our town has plenty of tax revenue, how and where it is appropriated needs close scrutiny and strong oversight.

Nick Walsh


Two Term Huntersville Town Commissioner

Vice-Chairman, Huntersville Ordinance Advisory Board

Former President, Wynfield Homeowners Association

Town representation assignments as a commissioner

Qualifications: As an Independent, I don’t have the limitations of party politics to dominate my decisions. Simply put, I listen to the voice of our town and work with all the Commissioners to maintain and advance new initiatives. I believe the votes I cast as your current Commissioner help define Huntersville as a better place to live, work and play.

Top issues: Road expansion and infrastructure improvements will continue to be a priority. The Town Board continues to allocate limited town funds to partner with NCDOT on road projects including the Main Street Road Project (underway) and Gilead Road West. The US-21 Gilead Road Bridge Project has started. We directed our Town Manager to evaluate road projects and work to get them shovel ready. Currently, we have over a dozen road projects in various stages of design and build. 

The town continues to make investments in our Greenway system. We are building our own sections and partnering with the county to accelerate others. A recent agreement with the county will lead to an additional 6-1/2 miles of new greenways.

Downtown revitalization is finally happening. New retail, commercial and housing will join a recently sold town building that will turn into a downtown brewery. The new Trail Head of the Vine (greenway) will join a new Town Hall which is in design.

As it becomes more expensive to live in Huntersville, the need for workforce housing must be addressed. To maintain its identity, the town must continue to support a diverse group of citizens who form the fabric of our community.

Finally, no advancement in our town may take place without the support and safety provided by our Police and Fire Departments. We will continue to invest in our first responders, never losing sight of their significance and importance.


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