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Canton election gets two newcomers

haywoodTwo new candidates have signed up to run against incumbent candidates Gail Mull and Ralph Hamlett for the Canton Board of Aldermen.

Lifelong resident Neal McCracken has signed up in hopes of bringing more businesses and visitors to town.

Kate Brown has signed up to do anything she can to help the town she loves rebound from the recession. 

McCracken, 67, retired from Dayco in Waynesville after 30 years. He also helped start the Mater Fest in Canton 10 years ago, currently serves on the Canton ABC Board and owns a commercial building in downtown. 

“I’ve been interested in our town trying to bring businesses and fix the buildings in town,” he said. 

While he said he is friends with many of the board members and appreciates the progress they’ve made, he said he feels like more could be done. 

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“I want to follow up with a lot of stuff they’re doing — they’ve started to get on the right track,” McCracken said. “I haven’t got a strategy yet but I hope people know me and that I have got a little bit of common sense.”

Brown worked as a teacher assistant in Canton kindergarten classes for 39 years. Now she serves on the Haywood County Schools Foundation board and also teaches sewing at Haywood Community College. 

“Well I’m running because I love the town of Canton — I moved here from Spartanburg 56 years ago and I raised my three boys here,” she said. “It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and I would like to do anything I can to help this town rebound.” 

Brown said she’s been to several town meetings and feels like she is familiar with the challenges facing the town. While she thinks the current board is doing an “OK” job, she wants to step in and help.

“It takes a town or community to raise a child and it takes everybody working together to make a town grow,” she said. “I know how to work.”

Mull and Hamlett were both elected to the Canton board in 2013 to serve two-year terms in order to begin staggering the board elections in Canton. Both candidates are now running for a four-year term. 

Mull said the town board is working to improve the town’s economic development by ramping up the Labor Day Celebration, trying to attract more businesses by requiring downtown commercial building owners to better maintain their structures and responding to the needs of residents by making upgrades to parks and recreation facilities.

Hamlett, a professor at Brevard College, said he feels optimistic about the current board and the progress being made in Canton. He said the two years really served as a learning curve for the entire board, but now with a unified vision in place, he wants to see projects come to fruition.

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