• Andrews mayoral candidates Nancy Curtis and James Reid will debate on Oct. 12.
    Andrews mayoral candidates Nancy Curtis and James Reid will debate on Oct. 12.

Curtis, Reid vie to lead Andrews into future

Curtis wants to finish board’s work as mayor

   Nancy Curtis wants a chance to finish the work she started in her first term as mayor of Andrews.
   Curtis is running to retain her position in the general election Nov. 7. She came in with an entirely new board of aldermen in 2013, and with that there have been successes and challenges along the way.
   “If you come into a situation where there isn’t a plan, and you have a brand-new board and a brand-new mayor, it will take you three years to figure where to go next, how to get things off the ground,” she said.
   “It takes three years to get a floor under you. That’s been the hardest thing, to get a board that will work together, build relationships and earning the trust of the people in the town.”
   Curtis said her three priorities in helping govern the town are infrastructure, public safety and a strong financial relationship with the state.
   “If they (North Carolina) come in, and they don’t think you’re doing well as a town financially, they can take your town away from you,” she said. “That was a shocker for us. But we’ve had three good audits, and we are in good standing with the state treasury office for the first time in many years.”
   Curtis has immersed herself in the community the last four years. She has tried to make inroads with citizens and business owners in an attempt to bring more jobs to town.
   She faced perhaps her greatest challenge with the gun ordinance in town buildings. The newest adversity facing the board is whether to stick with the consulting firm NFocus, which has helped formulate a comprehensive plan for Andrews.
   “It’s very important to me that the work goes on,” Curtis said. “Everything that I have fought for in four years, I am not letting that go off into the night. We know the next four will be easier because we put the floor under us, and that floor is hiring NFocus.
   “Imagine how long it would take us to get there without NFocus. Do we have the skill-set in this town to draft the ordinances, the zoning, get a comprehensive plan together … all these things are money well spent to me.”
   Curtis said the process of getting the town together can be summarized as “forming, storming and performing.”
   “We have done the forming and storming. We’re up to performing now, and that’s what we have to do next,” she said.
   Curtis is hopeful the new board will share her vision for the town’s future. If re-elected, she would like to meet with the new board members before they are sworn in to open the lines of communication and establish a rapport.
   While hopes to see Alderman Phil Horton return to the board, Curtis is not openly promoting any of the other 10 candidates.
   “I’m not playing any favorites. I am open to working with anyone,” she said.
   Curtis said there is only so much a mayor of a small town can do, but she is ready to do her part again.
   “The mayor is the face of the town, but if you have an organization behind you and a comprehensive plan in place, you can go before anybody who wants to bring a business here and everything is right there,” Curtis said.
   “It isn’t just me – I have an army behind me.”

Reid plans to lead on alderman experience

    In July, James Reid signed up to run for a fourth term as an Andrews alderman. One weekend later, he decided to run for mayor instead.
    “I was mayor pro temp for eight years, so I’ve presided over meetings, done the things that need to be done,” he said. “I felt like we needed a candidate who has the experience who can hit the ground running.”
    Reid was an alderman from 2001-13, when the current board came into office. He first supported Jeff Mashburn for mayor, but Mashburn decided not to run for personal reasons.
    Reid is concerned about the town’s financial stability.
    “When we came in 2001, the town was in the red and in financial trouble,” Reid said. “We needed a new water plant, we needed a lot of things. We got back in the black, and the town was doing great. We had plenty of money when we left office.”
    He added that when he left office, there was $1.2 million in the watershed account and “plenty of money in cemetery fund.”
    “In the last four years, there has been a huge decline in the money that was left there and was established,” Reid said. “Right now, we’re real close to being broke. I’ve talked to a lot of town employees who wonder if their check is going to bounce because money is so tight.”
    The key issue on town spending is whether to retain the service of consulting firm NFocus, which has split the mayoral and alderman candidates.
    “I think NFocus has done a lot of work, and has gotten a lot of money in return, for things that are absolutely free that we could get from three grad students at N.C. State,” Reid said. “You might be out $3,000 to $5,000 instead of $300,000. I don’t agree with everything NFocus does, but I do believe the town needs guidelines. But I would not be willing to work with NFocus (going forward) if I am elected.
    “The money is not there. They are a highly paid company, and they deserve every dime they are getting, but we are too small of a town to keep paying that out. You don’t drive a Cadillac when you can only afford a Fiesta.”
    Reid expressed frustration that the current board immediately voted themselves a pay raise upon taking office.
    “You run for public office to help the town, not to make money,” he said.
    Not only does he want to reduce spending, he does not want to see taxes increase. Reid also believes in giving tax breaks for businesses the first couple years they come into town as an incentive.
    “We need more people with great business minds, like Nancy Purser and Dean Williams, to come downtown and offer up unique ideas,” Reid said. “It helps people want to start a business if they have the support of the community and the leadership.”
    Personal strife among the town officials has been a major issue the last four years, something Reid wants to see end.
    “I’ve been to meetings where they ask the chief of police to eject one of the aldermen,” he said. “I have dealt with a lot of animosity from the board. I want to get everyone together and bring peace back to the Valley. We need to stop slinging mud and move forward within our means.”

The Andrews Journal

Mailing Address:
995 Main St., Nantahala Suite
Andrews, NC 28901
Phone: 828-321-4271
Fax: 828-321-5890