you're reading...

Cornelius News

Seven candidates for five seats on Town Board


Election season gets under way in earnest right after Labor Day. In Cornelius, it means you can see candidates up close and personal at picnics, in church, at meetings or at Cornelius Today’s traditional Old Fashioned Barbecue and Candidate Forum Oct. 2 at Town Hall.

Meeting them is important. Five people on our Town Board decide issues ranging from parking at the Y to local tax rates. The mayor, Chuck Travis, only breaks ties. He’s running unopposed for another term.

Few people think that everything is perfectly hunky-dory.

But Cornelius does have one of the lowest tax rates for a community our size in North Carolina, an outstanding police force and great parks.

There are seven candidates this year, down from 10 two years ago. Even though the Board of Commissioners is nonpartisan, past members have soared to higher office, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis being the most notable.

The average age of the candidates is 58, while Cornelius’ median age was 40 in 2010, according to U.S. Census data. All seven candidates are men, while 51 percent of us are women. One, incumbent Thurman Ross, is African American. The Census in 2010 showed 6.4 percent of us are African-American, and 5.3 percent of us are Latino. None of the candidates is Latino.

So why are there seven candidates this year, down from 10 in 2013? Why is the mayor running unopposed?

People approached Amanda Dudley about running, but the founder of the I-77 Ridiculousness Facebook group is a young mom. “I simply don’t have the time,” she says. Her page has some 4,300 followers.

Travis says one of his top four goals for his next term is to “fix/complete the bridge aesthetics to create a true gateway to our town.” So there’s that, there was influence.

The Widen I-77 anti toll group has over 7,000 followers on Facebook. Founder Kurt Naas is not running.

The current town board, as well as the three hopefuls, are opposed to this toll plan. So there’s that,  collective voices were heard.

Woody Washam was the highest vote-getter in 2013, making him Mayor Pro Tem.

He said this about running unopposed: “Running and serving is a very personal decision and the timing must always be personally right to make that commitment.  Those that run unopposed should feel an extra and special commitment to citizens or most certainly they will not have that opportunity to be unopposed in the future.”




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: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

DB: Cornelius is an outstanding community and my home for the past 14 years. I have been very active in the community and would like to utilize my experience as a business executive and non- profit volunteer leader to help guide our town through continued growth. In particular, I will pay close attention to the development of our downtown area, road design, our new swim beach and greenways, police patrol of our shoreline as well as fire safety.  If elected, I will make myself available to listen and communicate regularly with our citizens as well as be an advocate for businesses in our town.  I believe Cornelius is the best place to live work and play…and I will work very hard to keep it that way!

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years?

DB: With input from town leadership and citizens, “Navigate Cornelius” provides a good roadmap for the development of our town. With limited area remaining for development, it is important that we attract highly desirable businesses that will serve our citizens while diversifying our tax base. The development of a vibrant but quaint downtown area and the addition of an arts and cultural center will be an important area of focus. Road design is also important to our quality of life and we must upgrade our major through streets, Hwys 21, 115 and Catawba Ave. We have learned a hard lesson with the I-77 plan and I will work with neighboring towns to address issues with NCDOT with strength and resolve. As our greenway system continues to develop, it will provide a useful alternative for those families interesting in biking/walking to destinations throughout Cornelius.  Connectivity and travel time discussions will be in the forefront over the next few years. I will seek and respect citizen input/feedback to help our experts deliver a plan that is right for Cornelius.



Jim Duke

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

CT: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

JD: As a rookie commissioner, I learned quickly that it was the experience with community service that I brought to the job, and the experience I gained from the job, is what made it possible for me to get things done for our community.   Learning the issues and listening to good people opened doors to understanding and effectiveness.  I am running for re-election as a Town Commissioner in order to build on those experiences and continue to bring thoughtful and inclusive leadership to our Town.   It is my goal to continue making improvements to Town services, to help guide growth, keep our tax rate steady, and explore ways to tap into more open communication between and among our citizens.  I will work with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce to enhance small business growth, and with the PARC Commission to improve and expand our parks, as well as doggedly pursue a regional cultural arts center for Cornelius.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so the new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years?

JD: While we will have just a few new roads on the horizon, we will need to be improving traffic flow and reducing congestion on existing roads through thoughtful planning and prudent investment of our bond funds.  Widening streets, expanding intersections, and providing better connectivity will help improve traffic flow.  We need to continue communicating a strong, yet respectful message to NCDOT and transportation planners that general purpose lanes on I-77 are key to addressing larger congestion issues brought on by rapid growth.  Key to avoiding congestion and delays is to not allow high density development to place excessive burdens on our roads.  Exceptional schools and our lake environment are huge draws for families with school age children.  The impact of this related growth must be countered by careful land use planning and effective zoning.   Several projects are being planned to improve traffic flow and ease congestion.  Pressing forward with plans for Exit 27 at Westmoreland Road, promoting innovative traffic planning solutions, and careful consideration of safety measures throughout our Town are all critical to both mobility and livability for Cornelius.

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: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

DG: I have served the 28,000 citizens of Cornelius for the past 13 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 long-standing voting record clearly underscores my conservative principles — maintain the lowest tax rate in North Carolina for towns our size; limit government to essential services and support for private business/investment; constrain residential growth (especially high density multi-family); and drive for the best schools in America.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years?

DG: Above all, win the war against Tolls on I-77! Among public officials in the region, I have aggressively led the opposition to this utterly insane Cintra Tolls project from the very beginning. Secondly, improve east-west transportation through new roundabout at east Catawba & Statesville, straightening out of Bailey Rd, and additional connections from Statesville to 115. In recent years, we have successfully widened West Catawba, invested in multiple intersection upgrades, and now have 40% higher throughput at Exit 28, but we have more critical local projects pending. Finally, nothing we do in improving roads will matter long-term if we fail to constrain residential growth (especially high density, down-market multi-family projects) and preserve rural land and open space.



Michael 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: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

MM: My life is characterized as one of leadership and service. I’ve been blessed with multiple skills and abilities. I have served at multiple levels, both professionally and as a volunteer. I now desire to give back to my community as my next level of service.

I’ve strived to help patients “Be Well”; now I want to help them “Live Well”.

Time for Change. I manage change to produce the best outcome. I will bring a unique and varied skill set to your Cornelius “management” team for the next 2 years to improve what’s right, and to fix what’s not, in our wonderful Town of Cornelius, including concerns not anticipated at this time.

Cornelius being the better because of my efforts would be my best accomplishment.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years? 

MM: Traffic is the issue, as it was 2 years ago when others felt that the HOT I-77 project would provide congestion relief. Promoters now acknowledge there will be little relief, yet we are farther down that road. Fortunately the majority of our leaders have lately realized the negative impact of this project.

We have inadequate local and region transportation options as the infrastructure has remained relatively stagnant while the population has exploded. Cornelius is handicapped by Lake Norman resulting in few to no options to West of the Interstate. Looking to the East side exposes the inadequate East-West connectivity. Passenger rail appears to be dead in its tracks. Projects are in progress that will bring some relief but we need more.

I constantly study a map of Cornelius. Connectivity must remain a key word to keep more local traffic off the main roads — currently way behind. Careful and wise future development must be cognizant of these issues. Development of parallel routes to supplement major corridors. Continue to support alternate means of transportation. Strengthen discussions with our neighboring municipalities who face the same issues. Continued dialogue with NCDOT and CRTPO to improve their process. Technology as available and anticipated.



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

CT: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

JM: I am running for Town Commissioner because I care about our town and how the quality of life is being affected on so many different levels.  I dedicated nearly seven years of service to the citizens of Cornelius as a police officer with the Cornelius Police Department and I want to continue to serve as commissioner.  I will maintain the fight against the toll road plan and work to establish a plan to fight uncontrolled growth that projects past the next election cycle.  Another item I wish to accomplish is to maintain the sense of community in our neighborhoods by not having additional access roads introduced into them.  These communities shouldn’t pay the price in increased traffic due to overcrowding in the region.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years? 

JM: I believe our options are very limited in the way that our town is now configured and that our roads are already overly congested.  I would advocate for the light rail system to come to Cornelius, limit growth on secondary roads that are already congested, and make certain that the roads that we do have are well maintained.



Thurman Ross

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

CT: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

TR: I want to continue to make sure Cornelius has a great quality of life for its residents.

Focusing on economic development and redevelopment of our downtown. Continue to be fiscally responsible as a town while being accountable to our residents. I want to work on some much needed street improvements located in the historic part of town. I want to continue to work on the implementation of the bond package. Also, most of all I want to continue listening and talking one-on-one to the citizens concerns.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years? 

TR: Regarding development of roads, we should not look of over-congested in a matter of a couple of years but, try to look at them 10 or more years ahead. We must look at them for the long term and not the short. That being said we may have to make some tough decisions now, making sure its what’s best for Cornelius overall.



Woody 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: Why are you running for Town Commission/what do you want to accomplish?

WW: I’m running for re-election because of my love and concern for Cornelius and because I’ve enjoyed my first two years of service. I’m proud of what we have accomplished but there is more to be done.  My number one goal will be maintaining an efficient and effective town government while preserving our low tax rate.  My other top goals include improving our town’s relationship with our state government agencies like NCDOT so they understand the challenges we face, growing our economy by supporting our existing businesses in their efforts to expand and by recruiting new industries to Cornelius, ensuring that our police and fire departments continue to have the resources they need, and listening and responding to the concerns of Cornelius citizens.

CT: Regarding development and roads, what would you propose so that new roads are not over-congested within a matter of a couple of years? 

WW: Well planned, top quality development will help us better manage our transportation issues.  This begins with a well thought out land use plan.  The current town board made a significant step in that direction by passing a new and improved plan.

When development occurs, developers should be responsible for their fair share of the burden.  The board must be cautious in approving  new development concentrating on economic development that creates jobs.

We have some serious catching up to do with our local transportation needs and many of these needs involve state maintained roads. Town transportation bond funds are available to help with solutions, but we must seriously improve our relationship with DOT and other state agencies to ensure we receive the help we need.

Opportunities for improved connectivity remain and should be utilized when possible but not at the expense of our special and historic neighborhoods.  When we can create options to divert some traffic from our main arteries we should.

By focusing on managing development, improving relationships with NCDOT so they are more responsive to our needs and improving connectivity where possible, we will start to get a handle on the traffic issues affecting our town.