The contest to fill Waynesville’s town board has drawn a wide crowd this year, a mixture of incumbents, political newcomers and a couple of election veterans.
Seven candidates will vie for four seats in the November election. The town board hasn’t seen an upset in the last two elections.
Sitting Aldermen Gary Caldwell, J. Wells Greeley and Leroy Roberson are all coming back for another try, and given the track record of incumbents in Waynesville elections, the odds seem in their favor. But at least one seat is wide open, as Alderwoman Libba Feichter is not returning for re-election, likely fueling some of the competition entering the race.
The challengers represent a variety of views, some business owners, some retirees, some public servants, but nearly all named the economy and the replacement of retiring Town Manager Lee Galloway as top priorities in the coming term.
Only one, Sam Edwards, expressed open discontent with the current administration, with the rest either backing the board’s positions or staying mum on the issue.
Among the challengers for town board, none are returning from the 2007 contest, however, Mayor Gavin Brown will face competition from Hugh Phillips, assistant manger of Bi-Lo, who ran unsuccessfully against him four years ago.
The general election will be held on November 8. Voter registration closes on October 14.
Occupation: Production manager at Cornerstone Printing in Waynesville.
Time in Waynesville: Caldwell is a lifelong Waynesville resident.
Political Experience: Currently a sitting board member, Caldwell has served four consecutive terms as a Waynesville alderman.
Why he is running: “I just enjoyed being in city government. I just really love it.”
Biggest challenge in the next term: “My challenge is completing the skate park. I’m halfway there. We’ve raised probably close to $160,000 of the $300,000 that we’re trying to raise to break ground on it, and that’s been my goal probably for the past 10 years. Finally we’ve got it really going on great.”
Occupation: Clergyman. Edwards spent two decades with the Episcopal church before becoming vicar at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Waynesville. He is now waiting to be received into the Catholic church.
Time in Waynesville: He lived in Waynesville through high school and returned in 2007.
Political Experience: Edwards unsuccessfully ran as a Republican against N.C. Rep. Ray Rapp, D-Mars Hill.
Why he is running: “I’d been concerned, with a bunch of other citizens, that the current administration in Waynesville is not providing a good climate for small businesses. I thought it was time to give the people a choice.”
What he’d bring to the new board: “Making do with less. We’re going to have to prioritize our budget and wisely spend the public’s money.”
Mary Ann Enloe
Occupation: Retired from Dayco after 37 years, most recently as the senior purchasing agent.
Time in Waynesville: Enloe is a lifelong Waynesville resident.
Political Experience: Enloe was the mayor of Hazelwood, a Haywood County commissioner for two terms and ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for N.C. House in 2000. She currently serves on the Haywood County Board of Equalization and Review and the Haywood County Fairgrounds Board. She has never run for office in Waynesville.
Why she is running: “It’s my love for this area. I live in the house I grew up in and I just have a real love for the area and a real understanding of how government has to work.”
Biggest challenge facing the new board: “I don’t know that it will be the biggest but it will certainly be at the top, will be hiring the new town manager.”
Julia Boyd Freeman
Occupation: Executive Director of REACH of Haywood County, a non-profit that deals with domestic violence.
Time in Waynesville: She is a lifelong resident.
Political Experience: Freeman has never run for public office, but sits on the Haywood County Department of Social Services Board and the North Carolina Domestic Violence Commission.
Why she is running: “For some time I’ve had an interest in public service and also in serving the community. I’ve got a vested interest in the community from a business standpoint, and there’s going to be a lot of changes in the town coming up in the next couple of years.”
Why she would make a good alderwoman: “I think I bring a youthful perspective, a younger generation connecting with the people. My desire to serve the community and work with diverse populations could make a big difference.”
Occupation: Owner of Wells Funeral Home, with locations in Waynesville and Canton.
Time in Waynesville: Greeley is a lifelong Haywood County resident, and has also lived in Canton.
Political Experience: Greeley is currently an alderman. He was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late Kenneth Moore. He was also an alderman in Canton from 1981 to 1985.
Why he is running: “I did make the commitment when I accepted the appointment to run again, so I’m following through with my word.”
Biggest challenge of his previous term: “I knew it was going to be challenging and I have been pleasantly surprised with how well the town board works together.”
Occupation: Owner of the Andon Reid Inn, a Waynesville bed-and-breakfast. Reid had a law enforcement career and was a health fitness consultant before becoming an inn-keeper in his retirement.
Time in Waynesville: He and his wife moved to Waynesville from the West Palm Beach, Fl., area in 2006.
Political Experience: This is his first run for public office, but has previously served on the board of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority. He is currently on the board of directors at the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce.
Why he is running: “I’ve got a vision for the community. I like what the town is doing, I like the direction it’s been going in. I wanted to be a part of that team.”
His top priorities for the next term: “The main thing is the economics. How are we going to keep the young people here, what’s going to be attractive to new businesses? Along with keeping the mountain Appalachian heritage and history. I would hate to see Waynesville just become anytown USA. People come here for a reason. We have to be progressive, manage smartly, but not forget what made Waynesville what it is.”
Occupation: Optometrist at Haywood Optometric Care in Waynesville.
Time in Waynesville: Roberson is a lifelong resident of Waynesville.
Political Experience: He is completing a four-year term on the board and was elected as an alderman once in the past.
Why he is running: “Basically, I enjoy doing it. I think there’s still some things that need to be done, and maybe touch up on the land development standards.”
Greatest success of the current term: “Considering the financial difficulties that have presented themselves, we’ve been able to maintain the services and the town, I think, is being run quite well.”
Charlie Burgin had registered as a candidate last week, but has since decided not to run.