Monday, April 15, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Five more applicants, now 11 total, apply to fill Graham city council vacancy

Council could decide next week on fifth council member       

Five more residents, bringing the total to 11, have filed their interest in being appointed to the city council seat left vacant by the voters’ November elevation of Jennifer Talley to the mayor’s chair.

The new appointee would serve out the remaining two years of Talley’s city council term.

The new applications, received by Sunday’s January 30 deadline, include two unsuccessful candidates from the November 2021 municipal elections – Edith Montoya, who placed fourth among seven candidates in her first bid for elective office, and Chip Turner, a long-time city councilman who lost his bid for mayor to Jennifer Talley rather than seeking re-election to the council – as well as three businessmen: Adam Miller, who works at Frank’s Jewelry on North Main Street; Alton Eugene “Gene” Myrick, who operates Gene’s Automotive on West Elm Street; and Dean Ward, who operates Triad Turf Management and Jadco container and dumpster service, who is also a long-time member, and current chairman, of the city’s planning and zoning board.

They join six residents who had previously submitted applications: former city council member Melody Wiggins, who lost her bid for re-election in November, placing third among the seven candidates;  unsuccessful council candidate Daniel Alvis, who placed fifth among the seven council candidates in November; Bonnie Whitaker, a member of the city’s Historic Resources Commission and chairman of the city’s appearance commission; Jim Young, who was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in 2017 against then-mayor Jerry Peterman; Richard Rohrer, who has lived in the city a total of 32 years; and Kyle E. Eckmann.

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Among the new applicants, there is a general agreement that the areas most needing potential increased spending are public safety and/or infrastructure, although applicants are not as keen to support property tax increases to pay for any increased spending.  Montoya adds “education” as another area needing increased spending.

Ward says property taxes should be raised “only as a last resort,” adding, “There are many ways to increase revenue without raising property taxes.”

Miller adds street maintenance and landscaping, as well as business incentives as other priority areas.

Most new applicants are opposed to mandating that city employees be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.  Miller demurs on his answer, saying that individuals should ask him his opinion on the subject, since the “two lines of text” (provided on the application) are insufficient to express his views.

All the applicants are opposed to the use of eminent domain.

Most, other than Montoya, are opposed to the downtown master plan, although Miller says he’s not sure which plan is being referred to and Myrick says he does not have enough information to state an opinion.

All applicants said they opposed specific dimensions of the master plan involving narrowing roadways in order to widen sidewalks and eliminating downtown loading zones in the roadways, with Myrick qualifying his support for loading zones if businesses can receive deliveries through alleys.

Graham’s current four-member council has stated an intention to turn to the issue of filling the council vacancy at its next meeting, next Tuesday night (on February 8).

See earlier coverage of other applicants to fill the city council vacancy:

Four more Graham residents make bid for council appointment:

First two applicants for Graham council post lost bids for a seat in 2021:

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