Two candidates who were defeated for a city council seat in November are the first two to toss their hats into the ring seeking an appointment to the remaining two years of the term of former council member Jennifer Talley, who was elected mayor in November.
The first two applicants to express interest were former council member Melody Wiggins who lost her seat on the council after one, four-year term last November; and Daniel Alvis, who placed fifth in November.
Wiggins placed third (with 540 votes) for the two available seats, behind Bobby Chin (who led with 685) and Joey Parsons (who had 663), who were sworn in on December 6, the same night Wiggins left the dais. Alvis, who placed fifth in November, had 309 votes.
The new council members, new mayor (Talley), and councilman Ricky Hall decided at their December 14 meeting to institute an application process with interested citizens to complete a questionnaire, providing basic information, as well as outlining their positions on a number of municipal issues.
The actual application also includes this statement: “RESPONSES ARE VOLUNTARY: Please be advised [that] any information you provide in response to the ‘Questionnaire for Graham City Council Candidate Unexpired Term’ is voluntary, and candidates are not required legally or otherwise to respond to questions set out herein.”
The questionnaire also includes this notice: “PUBLIC RECORDS NOTICE: Please be advised any and all information you provide will be a public record and subject to disclosure in accordance with North Carolina Law.”
For her part, Wiggins took advantage of the voluntary aspects of the questionnaire’s parameters.
She listed only her name and address (300 Ward Street). She did not respond to any of the questions about her background or her views on any issues.
The only other comment she made was in response to the last question, saying, “Graham city council members serve at the will of the citizens. The citizens have already spoken and I am the candidate that the public has chosen.”
Alvis responded to each of the biographical and issues questions.
The 8-year Graham resident who works at UNC-Chapel as a plumber in the maintenance department, listed highest priorities for increased spending as infrastructure, police, and fire.
Among other topics, Alvis said Graham’s growth has allowed new subdivisions to be “too dense” and that the city’s residential development has been “too fast” with “too many apartments.” He said he would not support a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for city employees; and that he believes Graham city hall staff should be on [site], rather than working remotely as some have done during the pandemic.
He also expressed disagreement with the downtown master plan developed by a consultant several years ago and specifically its recommendation that much of downtown parking should be eliminated or minimized in exchange for wider sidewalks.
The current council members indicated that they would accept applications through January 30, with a hope to question applicants, and potentially vote on a replacement council member, at their February 8 meeting.