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Cornelius News

Cornelius Town Board Will Ask Mayor to Resign



Resolution Page 1 - Click to enlarge

Resolution Page 1 – Click to enlarge

June 13. The Cornelius Town Board has called a special meeting for 6 pm Tuesday to ask Mayor Chuck Travis to immediately resign. A resolution circulated amongst the commissioners Sunday and today declared a lack of confidence in the mayor’s “ability to effectively and fairly represent the Town of Cornelius and further, the Cornelius Town Board calls upon Mayor Travis to immediately resign his position as Mayor of the Town of Cornelius.”

RELATED: Mayor issues detailed response to furor over State Capitol visit

Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam has already been discussed as Travis’ replacement, should the mayor step down. A majority of the Board will also express a “Vote of No Confidence” in Mayor Travis. Indeed, the vote is expected to be 5-0.

Renegade Mayor

Resolution Page 2 - Click to enlarge

Resolution Page 2 – Click to enlarge

Defying the Cornelius Town Board, Travis met with NC Sen. Philip Berger in Raleigh and argued in favor of the tolls being built between Lake Norman and Charlotte. He was also joined by Davidson Mayor John Woods. A vote of no confidence is also being discussed in the neighboring town.

Travis and Woods lobbied against HB-954—the anti-toll legislation that passed overwhelmingly in the NC House June 2—in front of the most powerful man in the Senate.

Travis was said to have argued very strongly for toll lanes and against 954. He said anti-toll forces don’t understand the impact of cancelling the tolls.

Intense discussions

Travis did not respond to an email from Cornelius Today asking for comment.

Commissioners were fully involved in intense discussions over the weekend about the mayor. For all intents and purposes, he defied an earlier censure vote around his opinions and views on I-77 tolls and the $650 million NCDOT contract.

By expressing his personal views, he went against what appears to be widespread public opinion and that of the business community.

Toll sentiment shifted in earnest one year ago

The business community lined up against the toll plan a year ago, with the Lake Norman Chamber itself lending its weight to the battle against a 50-year contract with a company whose roots are in Spain, not the United States.

Separately, an anti-toll strategy group—known as the I-77 Business Plan—has met weekly at the chamber to execute a legislator-by-legislator battle plan. They won the House, and it looked like the Senate would line up as well in support of a bill to cancel the toll plan.

They call it sabotage

The Travis-Woods visit sabotaged those efforts, resulting in outright anger from the Cornelius board and many of Travis’ own constituents. Ironically, the retribution is swift and powerful: One of the mayors who spoke up for the tolls—he said he expressed his own personal opinion—may be on the verge of losing his job.

John Hettwer, a former volunteer chairman of the chamber, said Travis betrayed any number of people, from ordinary citizens to businesses that rely on the free flow of traffic to and from Charlotte as well as on Lake Norman’s “Main Street.”

The Big Fib?

To make matters worse, Travis ran unopposed last year, based on his assurances in July that he was against the toll plan. “He lied to us so that he fully supports the board in the cancellation of the contract,” said Hettwer. John “Mac” McAlpine was set to run against Travis, but opted not to when it seemed clear Travis was anti-toll, both McAlpine and Hettwer said. Travis would not respond for comment.

Mayor Pro Tem Washam could be voted in by fellow commissioners to take over from Travis, who has frequently been a no-show at public events. Washam’s replacement, meanwhile, could come from the list of candidates who ran for town commission last November. A name already mentioned is Denis Bilodeau, who recently retired from Aquesta Insurance.

Will he really resign?

But whether Travis resigns is an open question at this point. Members of the Town Board say he is spectacularly stubborn. In fact the board has passed at least three resolutions expressing strenuous opposition to the toll plan, and Travis has persevered on his own, independent track. Travis, a model of decorum and gentlemanly behavior, has already been compared to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who, despite monumental problems with his City Council and the law, refused to resign.

Here is the email sent by Cornelius Today to Mayor Travis at 4:45 pm: “Will you resign prior to what is likely to be a 5-0 vote of no-confidence at tomorrow’s emergency meeting? Any comment beyond the statement on Saturday? Thank you and good luck.”

We will post his response as soon as it comes in.