There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the Canton town board. Only two sitting aldermen are running for re-election, with eight challengers. All four seats are up for election every two years. Mayor Pat Smathers is running for re-election unopposed.
Canton aldermen – Pick 4
Charlie Crawford, 74
Retired DMV inspector, currently operates a small car lot and construction company
Crawford was ousted in the last election two years ago after 16 years on the board.
“The people I’ve talked to are pretty well fed up. I think there are a lot of people running because there is an apparent lack of progress by the present board. We need to get back on a progressive agenda. We need to bury whatever differences we have to serve the town.”
Jimmy Flynn, 59
Safety director for Buckeye Construction Company, former town employee for 30 years
“You have to have a board that can agree to disagree and move forward. We just would like to see Canton go forward at some growth rate. It is not a bad thing when the board doesn’t always agree and vote on everything unanimously, but I think it is a bad thing when they almost never vote on anything important unanimously. That tells me there needs to be a little more cohesiveness.”
Gene Monson, 51
Owner of group purchasing organization for 130 restaurants that pool food orders to help realize economies of scale through bulk buying power
“The members of the current board individually are all fine gentlemen. However, as a board I don’t think they accomplished what they wanted to accomplish over the past two years or what most of the citizens were hoping for. I hope I have the intelligence and humility to consider every idea on its merits and not based on whose idea it is. I am willing to compromise. I am more concerned about getting it right than being right.”
Carole Edwards, 54
Regional consultant for Department of Social Services on welfare programs
“My slogan is a fresh and new perspective. I feel like I have the enthusiasm and heart to want to work for this town. We may try a lot of things that don’t work. If you don’t try, how do you know what works and doesn’t work? I may not agree with what someone else thinks, but if it is an idea, let’s try it and see if it doesn’t work.”
Patrick Willis, 29
Historic interpreter at Thomas Wolfe National Historic Site
“Honestly in the past two years I have not seen a whole lot of improvement in the town. I feel like the town could use some new fresh ideas and opinions. One of the things I would like to see is more open communication with the residents of the town from the town board.”
Kenneth Holland, 62
“The current board has been divided down the middle on issues. The net result is not a whole lot is being accomplished. What they were planning on doing when they went in two years ago didn’t get accomplished as planned. We need to change things.”
Angela Jenkins, 42
Former stay-at-home mom now enrolled in a craft program at Haywood Community College
“I guess there are just too many different opinions about what needs to be happening and how to go about do it. There’s just no cohesiveness. You have to prioritize what needs to be done and find a way to get it done. I think it is going to be important that we have a board that gets along and gets the town moving forward.”
Ed Underwood, 60
Retired lieutenant colonel in US Army and retired state prison guard
“One of the problems with the current board is that it seems like the board members can’t work together. When you go onto a board like that you have your own personal agenda and have to try to set that aside to work as a team member. I’d say the consensus is the voters want a change.”
Troy Mann, 72
Retired cattle farmer
Mann has served for two years after running for election in 2007 as part of a wave that unseated three long-time board members.
“Our thinking was the citizens of Canton wanted some change over what had been. There is more discussion, more oversight, we are more engaged. Every issue is given more consideration. It is not a given that if it is brought to the table it is going to be approved.”
Eric Dills, 44
Dills has served two years on the town board. He ran in 2005 and lost by five votes, but emerged in 2007 as the top vote-getter.
“When I ran before, I felt like the town was really going down. It was deteriorating. We were going in the wrong direction. The mayor controls the biggest part of the agenda. If the town has not progressed in the past two years, the mayor has to bear his share and can’t keep pointing his finger at the board and saying it is all our fault.”