Collaboration will be a key factor in continuing to move Pineville forward as all four incumbent town council members, mayor-elect Jack Edwards and new town administrator Haynes Brigman come together next month as leaders for the town.
Council members Melissa Rogers Davis (476 votes), Debbie Fowler (398 votes), Les Gladden (409 votes) and current Mayor Pro Tem David Phillips (447 votes) were re-elected Nov. 5 from a field of seven candidates that included Billy Baskins, Jim Eschert and Kevin Icard. Together, they’re ready to continue the hard work they’ve already started with current Mayor George Fowler, who lost the race against Edwards by just 12 votes. Libby Boatwright came in third.
Fowler has served a total of 11 terms for the town, one term as councilman, a term as mayor in the 1980s and then again for nine consecutive terms starting in 1995.
Nearly 750 people came out to vote on Election Day, with Rogers Davis taking home the most votes for council. Kevin Icard was the fifth candidate in line, trailing Debbie Fowler with 335 votes.
“I think residents appreciate me being so hands on,” Rogers Davis said about her win. “I’m a hard worker, I get out and talk to people, and I address community concerns – my email is out there, my phone number is out there.
I’m not a politician, but I want our town to be the best – that’s why I’m always available.”
It’s still unclear exactly when Edwards will be sworn into the mayor seat, since he’ll be out of town for a previously scheduled vacation during next month’s Dec. 10 council meeting. But no matter when he takes the seat, its clear he’ll have some catching up to do. With a background in business, he’ll bring great insight to the town council that also manages Pineville Telephone and Electric. But with no background experience in government, he’ll need to get up to speed on a few things, and he’s willing to take the time. Edwards was unable to be interviewed in time for this article.
For Gladden, he says like any town government position, initially, there is definitely a learning curve involved, getting up to speed on town and state rules and regulations, learning processes and procedures for getting projects approved and accomplished, and figuring out how to balance requests from residents.
Brigman, the town’s new administrator slated to officially start Dec. 2, will come in with less of a learning curve. Previously the town manager for Yanceyville, he’ll join town staff with a working knowledge of North Carolina government.
“Mayor is going to have a little bit more of a learning curve, coming straight off the street without serving on council or anything,” Gladden said. “And for us, there will be things that are difficult at first, too, like figuring out how he likes to communicate. That’s going to be our learning curve – how to communicate with each other best.”
“I think Jack will serve the town well in the capacity of mayor,” Phillips said, adding George Fowler’s leadership will definitely be missed. “But Jack does have a lot to learn and, based on my conversations with him, he’s willing to take the time and effort to get more educated in what his role will be.”
Moving forward, council members hope to continue to collaborate and work together on several projects like downtown revitalization, the parks and recreation master plan, road improvements, expansion of Pineville Telephone and Electric and creating better communication with residents, Debbie Fowler said.
“I am grateful to the community for the great turnout at the polls. I wish to thank everyone who voted in the election and thank all the candidates as they all ran a good campaign,” she added.