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Cornelius News

Of what stuff are these 6 candidates made?


By Dave Yochum. In a town of 27,000, it looks like it will take about 1,500 votes to be one of the five men who will set our property tax rate next year.

All six candidates are men, five are white, five live on the west side of I-77, four are incumbents, two have not held elected office before, one lost in the 2013 election and one is African-American.

Welcome to the biennial, town-wide council elections, which, interestingly enough, are non-partisan. Like most towns in North Carolina, political affiliations don’t matter. That said, the Cornelius Town Board is a proven route to glory—and infamy—in North Carolina’s Republican Party.

NC Rep. John Bradford, NC Sen Jeff Tarte and US Sen. Thom Tillis all served on the Cornelius Town Board. All are Republicans, of course, but so was Tillis’ predecessor in the North Carolina House of Representatives, John Rhodes. He was voted “least effective” by his colleagues before Tillis defeated him.

Political consultant Andy Yates, a Huntersville resident who is handling Woody Washam’s re-election, says the non-partisan nature of local elections lets officials focus on the business of running a municipality which is more about roads and sidewalks than big national issues like borders and babies.

Then, too, non-partisan elections make it easier for a Democratic candidate to get elected in a heavily Republican community.

Yates expects around 2,750 voters to turn out Nov. 3, 3,000 at the high end. “With three fewer candidates on the ballot this year, I expect it will take 1,450 to 1,500 votes to secure the fifth spot,” Yates said. Based on voter turnout in 2011 and 2013, the absolute highest “total likely voters” is 3,546.

In 2013, with 10 candidates, it was a different story. Washam won 16 percent of all votes cast. With 1,992 votes, or 16 percent of all votes cast, he was the top vote-getter and, according to a tradition that is often called on, he was named mayor pro tem by his peers on the Town Board.

That year’s newcomer, Jim Duke, a former president of The Peninsula Property Owners Association, snagged fifth place, with 1,286 votes.

Dr. Michael Miltich, who is running again this year, garnered 1,149 votes, putting him in sixth place in 2013. The difference between winning and losing two years ago was 137 votes. In 2011, Bradford beat incumbent Ross by two votes.

For people who like to dive into numbers, only Washam and veteran Commissioner Dave Gilroy were on over 50 percent of all the ballots cast in 2013.

No one knows what the difference between the fifth-highest vote-getter will be this year and the sixth-highest. Your vote matters.



Denis Bilodeau

  • Age: 60
  • Family: Spouse Chantal and 2 children
  • Residence: 18102 Watercraft Place
  • Years in Cornelius: 14
  • Occupation: President, Aquesta Insurance Services- Cornelius

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner?

BD: As a Commissioner, I will use my 30-plus years as a business executive and business owner, as well as many years of service on non-profit boards to respond to the needs of our citizens.  Since moving to Cornelius in 2001, I have been active in many aspects of this great community.  I am currently a PARC (Parks, Art , Recreation and  Culture ) commissioner, as well as the Public Policy Chairman for the Lake Norman Chamber.

As Public Policy Chairman, I am actively working for an alternative to the current I-77 plan to eliminate the “real” problem – Exit 19 to Exit 36 bottleneck, and pursuing NC based contractors.

I have a proven track record in the areas of problem-solving, team-building and communication. The needs of our community are diverse and I have experience working with town staff on many issues in my current role on two homeowner association boards.  It is important for a commissioner to listen to citizen’s feedback and address concerns. I have the time, interest and energy to respond to the duties of commissioner and the citizens of Cornelius.

I believe Cornelius is the best place to live, work and play…and I will work very hard to keep it that way!



Jim Duke

  • Age: 73
  • Family: Spouse Carolyn, 3 adult children
  • Residence: 17401 Staysail Court
  • Years in Cornelius: 11
  • Occupation: Retired

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner?

JD: First and foremost my education and career in financial management provide me with the basic tools that I believe all commissioners need at least in some measure. All of those who serve need to understand budgets and good spending management.

The last two years working as a commissioner have taught me much about our Town, its people and its history.  I was fortunate to have been asked by our mayor to represent Cornelius on three important boards: PARC, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and Visit Lake Norman.  The PARC board allows me to deal with a wide variety of projects and issues that affect our families and quality of life.

The chamber has exposed me to both small and large business concerns that impact our economic future as a region.  The Visit Lake Norman board bridges both recreation and commerce in a most unique way by promoting tourism and regional economics.  In all of these opportunities to serve, I am able to work with the people who make Cornelius what it is.

These are the folks who live and work here and represent the character and structure of our community.  These are the folks whose wisdom translates into good governance and their counsel and support help me do my job as commissioner.

Cornelius Commissioner Dave Gilroy


Dave Gilroy

  • Age: 49
  • Family: Spouse Dee  and 4 daughters
  • Residence: 22836 Torrence Chapel Road
  • Years in Cornelius: 16
  • Occupation: Founder & Managing Director, Scale Finance LLC – finance and accounting services for small companies.

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner? 

DG: I have served the 28,000 citizens of Cornelius as a Commissioner for the past 10 years with one primary objective guiding all of my decisions: Let’s make Cornelius the highest quality of life place to live in North Carolina and even the U.S. My 10-year voting record exemplifies my successful experience in maintaining the lowest tax rate in North Carolina for towns our size; limiting our local government to essential services and support for private business and economic growth; constraining residential growth (especially high density multi-family); and driving for the best schools in America.

Moreover, my relevant experience includes the following: Ada Jenkins Center Board (current); Lake Norman Economic Development Board; Land Development Code Board (current); 911 Emergency Board (former Chair); Cornelius Growth Management Committee; Cornelius Planning Board beginning in 2002; three private corporate boards (current); U.S. Army Veteran (Airborne and Ranger qualified); Civil Engineering degree from Princeton University; MBA from Harvard Business School; four daughters in CMS schools; Chair, Bailey Middle School Leadership Team; and YMCA youth sports coach.

miltich2Michael F. Miltich

  • Age: 63
  • Family: Spouse Ann, 5 children and 
    6 grandchildren
  • Residence: 18021 Nantz Road
  • Years in Cornelius : 20
  • Occupation: Otolaryngologist at Charlotte EENT Associates for 32 years

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner?

MM: Being town commissioner is like being a board member for a business or organization. I have served for more than 20 years on the Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates Board of Directors, including President, repeatedly re-elected by my partners.

During my tenure, the practice grew from one office with 13 providers, to 18 locations with 120 providers, 660 employees, and a $105 million budget. I was instrumental in having the physicians expand out of the single location mindset by opening our first regional office in Pineville. Another challenge was keeping the group from splintering into separate Eye and ENT practices.

As a physician, I interact daily with individuals from all aspects of life, from all parts of town, all races, all genders, all ages, and all degrees of economic wealth. This gives me a broad understanding of the issues facing Cornelius and its residents. Each resident comes with a concern, and as commissioner, I would see all equally and independently. I will listen, analyze, decide on a solution which is in the best interest of all, and then monitor implementation.

My membership on the Town’s Land Code Development Advisory Board and Lake Norman Executive Board further increases my knowledge of the issues and challenges.



Thurman Ross

  • Age: 53
  • Family: One son
  • Residence: 19907 Burton Lane
  • Years in Cornelius: 53
  • Occupation: Realtor

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner?

TR: Most importantly I have the on-the-job experience. I have been a part of the decisions of making Cornelius what it is today, for the last 20 years.

I have gained experience from seeing the town grow from 2,500 to more than 27,000; from having no Parks Department to what we have today; from having to raise funds to build our own library which the county wanted to close; from the widening of West Catawba Avenue; from the process of annexations; from building joint partnerships to develop Town Hall; from purchasing an option on and zoning the property for Antiquity; from making the right decisions to keep our taxes low while maintaining a great quality of life for our citizens; from working with the other levels of government—it is so valuable to have those working relationships.

In addition to on-the-job training, I have the experience which comes from being self-employed. All this, taken together, makes me an excellent Commissioner.

woodyWashamWoody Washam

  • Age: 65
  • Family: Spouse Sharon, 2 children and 5 grandchildren
  • Residence: 20031 Chapel Point Lane
  • Years in Cornelius: 65
  • Occupation: Senior Vice President, Carolina Trust Bank, Lake Norman Area

CT: What experience(s) do you have that would make you a good commissioner?

WW: In addition to serving for the last two years as Town Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem, I have a variety of experiences that have prepared me to be a commissioner. I’m a life-long resident of Cornelius so I’ve seen us grow from a small community to a bustling town of nearly 30,000 residents.

I’ve served our community for 40-plus years as a banker. I’ve also served our community as a past Chair of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, past Chair of Visit Lake Norman, and a Board Member of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation.

I presently represent the town on the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, and the Arts and Sciences Council.  I’m a member of the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg and past Rotary President. I presently serve on the board of Little Smiles of NC, a charity benefiting children who are in hospitals, hospices and shelters, and our local United Way.

I’m a life member of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church where I’ve been the organist since 1966.

This wide variety of experience gives me a unique perspective on the needs of the entire town, our citizens and our businesses.

J.R. Mount dropping out of Cornelius Town Board race



J.R. Mount

  • Age: 44
  • Family: Spouse Laurel and a daughter
  • Residence: 11236 Suunto Lane
  • Years in Cornelius: 13
  • Occupation: Management Analyst with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department

Because of a serious illness in his wife’s family, J.R. Mount is dropping out of what was a seven-man race for Cornelius Town Board. The Mounts will be selling their home and moving to Locust.

Mount, who has lived in Cornelius for 13 years, is a management analyst with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.

He said he will be able to keep his job. The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections said Mount’s name will still appear on the ballot.

The deadline for a candidtate to drop out was Tuesday July 17th.