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Cornelius News

Travis will not resign after 5-0 no-confidence vote


June 14. By Dave Yochum. UPDATED 9pm. Mayor Chuck Travis, in an upbeat voice, this evening called an emergency meeting to order during which the Town Board voted on a resolution of no confidence in the mayor himself. Regarding the turnout of about 75 people, Travis said: “What this shows is that you care about your town.”

But even before the board voted, Travis vowed to continue as mayor, and said he had no intention of resigning. Indeed, a resignation is a rarity in our town government. Cornelius Mayor Wesley Rood resigned July 19, 1982. Mayor Wes Southern resigned on May 17, 1999 after moving to Huntersville.

The no confidence resolution, read by Town Clerk Lori Harrell, said the mayor’s views are “in opposition” to the town board and the community and he “grossly misrepresented” the situation in a town where hundreds of people have gathered on the Exit 28 bridge to protest the toll plan, not once, but twice.

The vote, at 6:14 pm, went 5-0. “I acknowledge that you’re mad, I’m frustrated as well,” Travis said, explaining that he left his architectural office in Charlotte at 3:30 pm to make sure he was on time for the 6 pm meeting during which he would be asked to resign. “We have no other plan…this is an action, without a plan,” Travis said of the no-confidence vote, acknowledging that there are “bad things” in the 50-year contract.

Some of the animosity has to do with the mayor’s visit to Raleigh as a private individual, although he went on a special day set aside for local officials to meet with legislators. The board voted 5-0 to censure Travis on the subject of tolls. An online Cornelius Today poll went 284-14 against the mayor in a matter of hours. The poll asked: “Are you in favor of the proposed resolution asking for the mayor of Cornelius to resign?” While hardly scientific, the implied sentiment against “Lexus Lanes” was 95 percent to 5 percent.

Part of the back story is that Mayor John Aneralla said Mayor Travis did not return a phone call regarding the trip to Raleigh, where Travis and Mayor John Woods argued—without telling their boards—for the current toll road plan to Sen. Philip Berger. Oddly, former Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain attended the meeting in support of Travis. Separately, she has started her own chamber of commerce in Huntersville.

Aneralla said he was blindsided by Travis’ and Woods’ visit. “I am still waiting for Chuck to call back,” Aneralla said, a week after Travis and Woods went to Raleigh on Town Hall Day.

Travis, before the no confidence vote, said neither the vote nor the call for him to resign are enforceable. He plans to stay on board till the end of his term. “The motion of no confidence and request for me to resign is unenforceable and you [can] ask the town attorney. So I plan to stay on as your mayor,” Travis said.

Apparently, the Mecklenburg County Republicans are as fractured as the national GOP. Former Mayor Lynette Rinker, the current vice-chair of the Mecklenburg County GOP, approached the dias when the meeting ended to scold the commissioners. “You should be ashamed of yourselves,” she said. Travis was scheduled to attend a GOP fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest at 7 pm.

So the battle over I-77 and the $650 million contract with a company from Spain continues unabated.

Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam, a fellow Republican, said commissioners will do “our best to work through this” with the embattled mayor. Upcoming town business includes the budget, an arts center and how to fix the Exit 28 bridge design that spawned the Exit 28 Ridiculousness Facebook page.

“Nevertheless, he is on the wrong side of this issue, on the wrong side of the majority of the citizens, not to mention the business community,” Washam said.

The Lake Norman Chamber, representing a broad spectrum of the business community, is actively supporting efforts to cancel the contract.

“It’s important to understand that the mayor, under our form of government, does not vote, except to break a tie. This was a 5-0 vote,” Washam said, expressing confidence the board can soldier on despite a lack of confidence in the mayor.

Commissioner Michael Miltich, another Republican, said, “this is whole new territory for us. I’ve never seen a representative act so contrary to so many people and constituencies.”

Travis, though, is known for gentlemanly behavior, but not for ties to the local business community. His supporters say he works quietly for the good of the town. He is a member of the NC Turnpike Authority Board of Directors. http://www.ncdot.gov/turnpike/about/board/travis.html