you're reading...

Cornelius News

Washam files to run for mayor, Travis will not seek re-election


Woody and Sharon Washam

July 12 UPDATED. Cornelius Mayor Pro-Tem Woody Washam officially filed Friday with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections to run for mayor in November. The week after Washam filed, Mayor Chuck Travis said he will not seek re-election.

“As mayor, my No. 1 priority will be to serve as a strong voice for my fellow citizens, working and fighting to ensure Cornelius remains the town we all love for decades to come,” said Washam.

Travis, who is crossways with the town board and local business leaders, stabbed himself in the back when he traveled to the state capitol on “Town Day” last year to express his support of the toll plan for I-77 between Lake Norman and Charlotte. The five members of the Town Board voted to censure him, putting already frosty relations into the deep freeze. Travis did not personally let Washam or members of the board know he would not run again.

Washam is known for his ability to get along with a variety of people, including business leaders, as well as build a consensus and set a common direction. He has a long track record of community service that includes strong ties to the business community not just in Cornelius, but Lake Norman. Washam has chaired the Lake Norman Chamber, Visit Lake Norman and the Town of Cornelius Transportation Advisory Board. He is also an active member of the Rotary Club of North Mecklenburg, and is a past president. He has been the organist at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church for 50 years.

As the top vote-getter in previous elections, Washam is a formidable candidate. So far no one else has filed to run for mayor; the filing period ends July 21. Community leaders Donna and Dick Johnson and Tonya and Harley Tritt are holding a fundraiser for the Washam campaign tonight in Cornelius.

Washam has a consistent, anti-toll record, far different from Travis. Along with fellow members of the Town Board, Washam asked the NCDOT to cancel the 50-year contract with Cintra, a unit of Madrid-based Ferrovial. “I will continue to fight on your behalf to stop the toll lanes and bring real transportation solutions to Cornelius,” Washam said.

Jim Duke, Woody Washam, Denis Bilodeau, Thurman Ross

Washam was elected to the five-member Town Commission in 2013 coming in first in a field of 10 candidates.  His fellow commissioners unanimously selected Washam to serve as mayor pro-tem. He represents the Town of Cornelius on the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization, Lake Norman EDC, North Mecklenburg Alliance, Cornelius Arts and Community Center Board and the Arts and Sciences Council.

Shortly after Washam filed his paperwork at the elections board in Charlotte Friday afternoon, incumbents Jim Duke and Thurman Ross also filed for re-election. Denis Bilodeau, who is running a second time for public office, also filed on Friday afternoon.

Commissioner Michael Miltich will file this afternoon.

Declared town board candidates Michelle Ferlauto, Kurt Naas and William Rakatansky are expected to file this coming Friday. All three are leaders in the anti-toll movement.

There appears to be a crowded field for the non-partisan board. In addition to Duke and Ross, Commissioner Dave Gilroy has declared his intention to seek re-election.

Other declared candidates include community volunteer Ava Callender and businesswoman Tricia Sisson. Filing is open for two weeks; it closes July 21.

Given the size of the field, it looks like Washam may have played an ace by opting to run for mayor. In addition to receiving the endorsement of all four of his colleagues on the Town Board, Washam has received endorsements from NC Sen. Jeff Tarte, NC Rep. John Bradford, Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla and Huntersville Mayor Pro-Tem Danny Phillips, whose daughter Stacy is helping advise Ferlauto’s campaign.

Washam, who is married to Sharon Hobson Washam, is the father of two and the grandfather of five, says he is proud of the accomplishment of the Town Commission over the last two terms.

“We’ve maintained a fiscally sound and efficient town government, achieved an AAA Bond rating, passed a new Land Use Plan and are moving forward with the new Cornelius Arts Center,” Washam said.

The town’s tax rate remains the lowest in the region and one of the lowest in the state.

“I believe with a strong Mayor who is focused on listening and responding to the concerns of our citizens and business community we can accomplish much more,” he said.

Washam is senior vice president, Lake Norman area executive for Carolina Trust Bank as well as a board member of United Way of Central Carolinas-Mooresville/Lake Norman.

As mayor, Washam said he would continue his listening circles and citizen meetings as well as monthly Coffee Chats.

“By listening to our citizens and businesses and responding to their needs and concerns, we can ensure that our future remains bright and Cornelius remains one of the best places in our nation to live, work and raise a family,” he said.

—Dave Yochum