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Cornelius News

Candidate drops out; Dee Gilroy stakes out position on police, fire pay

July 22. Ava Callender, a candidate for the Cornelius Town Board up until Saturday, says she has decided to end her campaign for personal reasons.

In an email and Facebook post, she said: “I looked forward to the opportunity to work with you, but this is not the right time for myself and family.” Filing for the November elections ended Friday.

There are now two female candidates for seats on what has been an all-male board since former Commissioner Lynette Rinker, the only female commissioner at the time, was sworn in as mayor in January of 2013.

The other two are Tricia Sisson, a businesswoman who also chairs the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, and Diane “Dee” Gilroy, who, on Friday, showed that politics make bedfellows.


Her husband Dave is the dominant fiscal conservative on the Town Board and Dee announced her candidacy for the same board Friday morning.

Husband Dave opposed mid-budget raises for police and town staff in late winter, before budget discussions.

It caused division on the board, with a 3-2 vote for raises—Dave Gilroy and Kurt Naas dissenting—and, later, 3-2 on the new budget with built-in raises—Gilroy and Naas dissenting.

Naas is the founder of WidenI-77, the leading anti-toll group. He announced he would not run for a second term last week.


Dee Gilroy appears to be staking out a different position than her husband. She said she “believes passionately in protecting our town’s most valuable services.”

She staked her own position, adding: “Specifically, we need to make sure that we pay our police officers and firefighters competitive wages so that we retain the best talent.”

We did not contact Dave Gilroy lest we get in the middle of anything.

Four of the five sitting commissioners—Mayor Pro Tem Michael Miltich, Denis Bilodeau, Dave Gilroy and Thurman Ross—have filed with the Mecklenburg Board of Elections to run for another term.

Former Commissioner Jim Duke, a community leader and former president of the Peninsula Property Owners Association, has also filed to run for the board. He served two terms before losing by less than a half-dozen votes in 2017.


Sisson says that she will continue to serve as chair of the chamber with the approval of the chamber president and the chamber board.

Incumbents have the advantage of incumbency; Bilodeau, besides being president of the Peninsula Property Owners Association, is also a columnist in a local four-color magazine. In the last edition he virtually endorsed himself, asking readers to email him at his government address if they would “like to help get the message out about my campaign.”

“I regret the error and will be careful it is not repeated,” he said.