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Cornelius News

Three more say they will run for Town Board

June 27. Three more Cornelius residents, all with strong ties to the anti-toll movement, say they will run for the Cornelius Town Board. ​There are now 10 people who say they will file in July to get on the November ballot.

There are only five seats on the non-partisan board. A current commissioner, Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam, has announced his plans to run for mayor of Cornelius. The current mayor, Chuck Travis, has not announced his intentions.

​Nothing’s official until the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections filing period opens July 7, and closes two weeks later.​

The three new candidates (in alphabetical order) are Michelle Ferlauto, Kurt Naas and William Rakatansky.

Of the three Rakatansky is the only one to have held elected office. Naas is the founder of the widely respected WidenI77.org, the original anti-toll organization. Ferlauto has been active in the I-77 Business Plan and ​organized​ the I-77 Safety Summit this last April which resulted in the removal of lane markers ​on​ I-77​ after some dislodged and flew up into cars.

The four incumbents, other than Washam, seeking re-​election are: Jim Duke, Dave Gilroy, Michael Miltich and Thurman Ross. Those who have already announced are Denis Bilodeau, Ava Callender and Tricia Sisson.

Ferlauto said ​she is running because she wants to be the conduit between the citizens and the Town Board “building a stronger more engaged community. What I offer is accountability, accessibility, action and authenticity with measured diplomacy.​”

​She said Cornelius needs a leader with a “forward-focused approach to planning. It is not only critical, it’s only fair to be conscientious and respectful to the diversity of the people and our neighborhoods.” She has a web page, www.michelleferlauto.com

Naas, who served on the town’s Transportation Advisory Board, formed WidenI77 back in 2012 when the notion of public private partnerships was embraced by some political leaders, most of them having either not be re-elected or reversed their positions. His campaign web site is live: www.electkurtnaas.com

“While the town leadership of Cornelius does well with most tactical issues, more attention needs to be given to broader strategic issues and opportunities that can impact the day-to-day life of residents. I’m running because I can be more effective representing our citizens and businesses as an elected official,” Naas said.

Rakatansky, who was a Cornelius Commissioner from 1993 to 1995​, said he will use his previous experience ​on the town board as well as his ​”knowledge of the Cintra/NCDOT contract to try influencing NCDOT/Cintra in keeping the residents and drivers needs foremost in their priority list, while not abusing people’s rights.​”

He announced his candidacy on the Exit28Ridiculousness Facebook page.​

In a crowded race like this, one of the keys to winning is to stand out from the crowd in a positive way such as for past service, unique qualifications and perspective, endorsements, or your campaign platform.

​Women tend to stand out in a crowd, but will that advantage be diminished when three are running? Both Callender and Ross are African-Americans; Bilodeau, Callender and Duke are retired. The dynamics of local politics are changing, too. Where The Peninsula once reigned in terms of clout, a younger demographic is making itself known in Antiquity​ and other areas on the east side of town, particularly north of Catawba Avenue.

​The Cornelius Town Board is a great place to launch a political career, or just serve a small town. NC Rep. John Bradford and US Sen. Thom Tillis served on the town board. NC Sen. Jeff Tarte was mayor.