Note from Admin: The Scoop looks forward to closely following political campaigns and issues leading up to this year’s municipal elections in November. Our goal is to provide accurate, up-to-date information that will help us all make informed decisions at the polls. Have an idea? We wanna hear it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mooresville voters will have their pick of issues to drive them to the polls this fall, from roads and residential growth to the town’s recent treatment of a much-loved farmers market. But will the same issues energize candidates to run for public office?
Filing opens today at noon for Mooresville’s 2023 municipal elections, and fireworks are already flying. Miles Atkins has announced he will not seek re-election as mayor, and the person who hopes to replace him has hit the ground running.
In what was a “Who’s Who” of North Carolina politics last week, about 100 people attended the kickoff fundraiser for Chris Carney, putting more than $100,000 in the mayor-hopeful’s campaign coffers.
“This is the largest fundraiser ever in the history of Iredell County; that tells everybody that we’re ready for change,” said Carney, whose campaign has extended an open invitation for the Scoop to attend events. He plans to be at the Iredell County Board of Elections tomorrow, where filing opens at noon.
Among those in attendance at Carney’s campaign kickoff: Mooresville commissioners Lisa Qualls and Thurman Houston; Troutman Town Manager Ron “Duck” Wyatt; Iredell County Lodge 10 Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Rodney James and Secretary Charles Kurfees; N.C. Reps. Grey Mills (District 95-Mooresville), Jeff McNeely (District 84-Statesville), Jason Saine (District 97-Lincoln County) and Jake Johnson (District 113); N.C. Sen. Dave Craven; Lowe’s Companies, Inc. Vice President of Store Operations Joe McFarland, and Co-Founder/Owner of U.S. Performance Center Ike Belk.
McNeely, chair of the N.C. House Transportation Committee, told the crowd that he drove from North to South Iredell to attend the fundraising event. “I keep saying this every time I come: Y’all got a traffic problem … I don’t know if y’all know that,” he said, prompting laughter from the crowd. Turning to Carney, McNeely said: “We’ll see what we need to do in Transportation to see if we can’t help y’all.”
Saine, the N.C. House senior appropriations chair, also bantered about Mooresville’s notorious traffic, saying he and Carney could perhaps work together on an initiative to build an under-the-lake tunnel to help him avoid N.C. 150 when traveling from Lincoln County to Iredell.
“Your Iredell reps are good people, and they’re my good friends,” Saine told the crowd last week. “And it turns out that if you’re good friends with the senior appropriations chairman, you know what Iredell gets? Money in the budget.
“As our majority leader says: ‘I don’t keep lists, but my senior appropriations chairman does,’” Saine said. “Turns out that Chris is on the good list, and it’ll be beneficial for Mooresville, I can tell you that. He really is a leader that’s respected across the state.”
Saine stressed the importance of people voting in municipal elections. “It does matter who you elect as mayor,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most important things that you can do.”
He said that Carney — after taking a 10-year break from public service — is “trained for it, rested and ready. He’s gonna make a hell of a mayor.”
Carney is a Hickory native and a resident of Mooresville since 1997. He was Ward 4 commissioner on Mooresville’s town board from 2005-11, being named mayor pro tem in 2009. He was appointed to the N.C. Senate from 2011-2012. He shares twin daughters, Rachel and Maddie (23), and a son, Will (19), with his wife of 26 years, Francie.
Rep. Mills called Carney a true friend. “He’s not only been a true friend to me, but he’s a friend of yours because he’s a friend to Iredell County,” Mills said. “He’s always put his community first, and that’s exactly the kind of person that we need serving.”
A major theme of Carney’s campaign kickoff centered on jobs and being pro-business. “Jobs make a difference; we used to be first in the country every single year for bringing jobs,” Carney said, nodding to town commissioners in attendance. “These guys are fighting every day, but they’re fighting an uphill battle because the culture here has changed. That culture’s at the top. We’re no longer business friendly because the people at the top are not being business friendly.
“Our commissioners have a tough job looking out for their wards and Mooresville as a whole at the same time. That will tax any public servant given our rapid growth,” Carney said. “What’s been missing lately is a mayor who can bridge the gap between citizens, small businesses and the development community. That’s the gap I want to close.”
McFarland of Lowe’s Companies, Inc. told the crowd: “We’ve got good things in store for the Town of Mooresville. We’re gonna bring the public — the people — together with businesses and with our political partners. This is gonna be just incredible.”
Carney said he wants to get Mooresville back to its roots, and he plans to do that while committing to a term limit. “Y’all, I’m coming in with energy,” he said last week. “We’re gonna work hard. We’re gonna get a lot done. We’re gonna get it done in a short amount of time and then get back out. We’re gonna get some other people to be ready to take that job next.
“We owe you consistent, great government,” he said, “and we’re gonna get to work.”
Mooresville hasn’t had a new mayor since 2011, when Atkins won his first bid for the office after serving one term as at-large commissioner. He announced this week he won’t seek re-election.
Filing for this year’s municipal and Mooresville Graded School District elections opens today at noon and lasts through July 21 at noon. The election is Nov. 7, but if enough people throw their names in the hat to run for the various races, it would force a primary on Oct. 10.
Four seats on Mooresville’s town board are up for grabs this year, including the mayor’s, At-large Commissioner Bobby Compton’s, Ward 1 Commissioner Eddie Dingler’s and Ward 2 Commissioner Thurman Houston’s.