Easing congestion on N.C. 107 and general economic development issues look to shape the context of Sylva’s upcoming municipal elections.
Three commissioner positions are open. Two landed in their seats via appointments instead of election by voters: Harold Hensley and Chris Matheson, who will now have to officially run to keep their seats. Ray Lewis won his seat four years ago.
Hensley was not prepared to commit this week on whether he will seek election, saying he is truly undecided at this juncture.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” Hensley acknowledged, adding that his decision, however, will hinge on whether he feels he “can benefit the taxpayers.”
Hensley had served on the board previously, but narrowly lost his seat in the last election in 2009. He found his way back on the board last year, however, being appointed to replace the outgoing Sarah Graham, who resigned after moving out of the town limits.
Like Hensley, Lewis wouldn’t commit one way or another about whether he will run.
“It is a little early yet. I haven’t made my mind up,” said Lewis, who is finishing a second term as commissioner.
Matheson said she would run, seeking this time to win election to the post she was appointed to fill when Maurice Moody moved up from commissioner to mayor in the November 2009 election.
“I do want to be a part of helping ease congestion on 107,” Matheson said. “To continue working with the DOT, and the county.”
Matheson also wants to see further improvements to Mill Street (known as Backstreet locally). And, the former assistant district attorney is adamant about helping shepherd the police department from cramped quarters into more spacious accommodations.
The town is trying to get the county to swap the old library building for the town’s former chamber of commerce building. The old library, Matheson said, would make a perfect home for the police department.
One newcomer has announced his intentions of running for a town commissioner position. Sylva businessman and resident John Bubacz, owner of Signature Brew Coffee Company, said he became interested in serving after Commissioner Danny Allen indicated he would resign for unspecified reasons at an unspecified point in the future, something which has yet to actually happen.
And, Bubacz said, he was motivated to run while following the town’s wrangle over how best to fund the Downtown Sylva Association. Bubacz is on the DSA board.
“I literally want to do this because I want to be a part,” he said. “There is nothing specific I want to change or accomplish, but I do feel that responsibility.”