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Six candidates for Town Board weigh in on issues facing Cornelius             

By Dave Vieser. At last week’s candidates forum, it became clear that the six men vying for five two-year seats on the Cornelius Town Board expressed few differences regarding town policies and positions. The event was Cornelius Today’s Candidates Forum and Old-Fashioned BBQ held in the Community Room of Town Hall.

On a rainy afternoon, over 100 residents came out to enjoy some fresh barbecue, sing some patriotic songs—God Bless America and America the Beuatiful—and to hear from the six candidates: newcomer Denis P. Bilodeau, a first-time candidate, incumbents Jim Duke, Dave Gilroy, challenger Dr. Michael F. Miltich, running for the second time, and incumbents Thurman Ross and Woody Washam. Five positions will be filled in the November election. Mayor Chuck Travis is running unopposed.

One of the areas where there was a mild difference of opinion was a question concerning the candidate’s position on the viability of light rail from Charlotte to Lake Norman. Five of the six feel that light rail is a dead issue and current efforts should be applied towards improving the bus system serving the area. However, Dennis Bilodeau was not as quick to dismiss light rail. “While I agree that we need to work on the buses, we should also still be thinking about rail as an option for the future.”

In response to a question suggesting that the residential/commercial tax base ratio in the town is 80/20, several candidates suggested it’s even more unbalanced. “I’d say it’s more like 85-15” said Gilroy. Miltich suggested that the town should actively pursue high-tech businesses which can add to the commercial base without creating much more traffic.

A question asking if it’s too late to stop I-77 toll lanes evoked the only spontaneous ovation of the day from the audience and an unusual confession from Commissioner Jim Duke. “Two years ago we met with Kurt Naas about his lawsuit and I only wish we had listened more carefully and done more to support his cause then.” Commissioner Gilroy, who has opposed the project from the start, commended Duke for his honesty, and Mayor Pro-Tem Washam said he believes it’s still not too late: “There’s still a lot going on behind the scenes.”

In a related discussion, Washam also suggested that the four towns in Lake Norman need to “get on the same page” when voting on transportation issues. “We had two yes and two no votes among our four towns during the recent CRPTO vote in Charlotte and that’s not good.”

Otherwise, the candidates were essentially in agreement:

  • They all agreed to serve a full-term if elected.
  • All six agreed that Highway 21/Statesville Road needs to be widened.
  • Support was unanimous for the Cornelius Arts Center to be located in “old Cornelius” near Town Hall where, as Commissioner Thurman Ross said “residents would be able to walk from their homes to the center.”

    Election Day  is Tuesday Nov. 3, from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. Early voting begins Thursday Oct. 22