Meet the candidates for the Board of Aldermen
There are 11 candidates running for the Andrews Board of Alderman.
The Andrews Journal will host a candidates forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at The Valleytown Ballroom on Main Street. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
If elected, former Andrews alderman Randy Hogsed said his three main priorities would include building a stronger budget, focusing on infrastructure and promoting development. Instead of using the town’s funds on NFocus, he said Andrews could have used to money to replace the town’s deteriorating water lines and completely finishing the public pool’s repairs and updates.
“The town has been more reactive than proactive in its planning,” Hogsed said.
He also feels as though the board of aldermen needs to establish ground rules for meetings. With set guidelines, the meetings would prove less chaotic and confusing.
All in all, Hogsed said he wants to bring a better community and future to everyone’s small home in the mountains.
“I want to promote and facilitate a spirit of cooperation and initiative in the community, and build a strong team in Andrews,” he said. “I don’t want our major export to be our young people, who have to leave Andrews to get a good job.”
Going for a second term as alderman, Phil Horton said he will continue to keep his eyes on the town’s water and wastewater infrastructure.
“We’ve made some really great strides with the help of the Water Infrastructure Board and the CDBG grants to improve wastewater infrastructure and collection,” he said. “We need to focus on the water and wastewater distribution center. There’s still a long way to go between the reservoir and tap.”
Horton hopes the new board will carry forward the good work that has been produced by NFocus and the Andrews Planning Board.
“We can’t afford to have them (NFocus) keep doing it, we have to do the work ourselves,” he said. “We need to create ways that the town can carry forward those good works we’ve done with NFocus – that will be important.”
Throughout his four years serving as an alderman, Horton has witnessed both the positive and negative aspects of working on the board. If re-elected, his goal is to navigate the new board over the hurdles that were troublesome for the current board.
“I’ll look for a strong board,” he said. “We need to really come out of the gates with a tone of civility, that we respect and encourage one another. Once a decision is made, we move onto the next issue and be a board the town can be proud of.”
Also running for a second term, Gary James said his voting record speaks for itself on his feelings toward the taxpayers of Andrews.
“Through the past four years, versus the rest of the board, I have used common sense to approach things and tried to take care of the taxpayers’ dollars,” James said. “The public deserves the right to know what’s happening and how their dollars are being spent.”
In order to save taxpayers money James said he would not export the town’s problems to contracted resources. Alternatively, he would try to get the board to handle the problems themselves in a reasonable manner.
If re-elected, he intends to complete the Snowbird Mountain Outfitters project and bring in another grocery store into town.
“I want to encourage people to come to the polls and vote,” James said. “You are the taxpayers, come out and let us (board of aldermen) known how you feel. Be more proactive at the board meetings.”
Steve Jordan, owner of Jimmy’s Pick N Grin, ran for alderman with the hopes of saving Andrews from funding unnecessary projects. While he was a Cherokee County commissioner, Jordan said he left office with an abundance of money in the general fund.
“I would really try to save the taxpayers every dime we possibly can,” he said.
A former alderman, Jordan said he has never voted to increase taxes and would make low taxes a priority.
If elected as alderman, he also intends to focus on improving the town’s drug problem and creating more places designated for youth. He plans to draw the town’s attention back to the swimming pool and its need for restoration.
“I’m just here to make Andrews a better place to live, and I’m running to stop the waste,” Jordan said. “It’s time to stop the waste in the Town of Andrews.”
If elected as alderman, Ted Paul said he would focus on being transparent, improving the budget and helping the Andrews Police Department.
“With the water rates going up, I think we need to get spending under control first,” Paul said. “We also need more officers. One officer on duty at a time is dangerous.”
By having a larger police department, he said the officers would not only be able to tackle more crime in the area, but have backup in critical situations.
Paul said as alderman he would maintain a sense of flexibility on the board, respecting and listening to the other members’ proposals and insight.
“I’ll do a good job,” he said. “I have conservative values, especially fiscal ones, and I’m a man of my word.”
As the previous owner of Paul Brothers Fine Eatery and a plumber by trade, Paul said he would utilize his good work ethic to see that the town thrives.
“I’ve been a hard worker all my life, that was instilled in me at an early age,” he said. “I just want to see the town prosper. That’s a hard road ahead, but I think it can happen.”
As the only woman in the alderman race, Richelle Phillips said she plans to go into the campaign with an open mind and no political agenda.
“I question everything, and want to know the pros and cons,” she said. “If I don’t believe in something, but you’ve got the data to prove I’m wrong, I’m more than willing to be humble and admit that I’m wrong. As a leader, you make those decisions as they come objectively.”
Strongly supporting keeping kids in school, Phillips said she would like to support more kid-friendly activities, including gatherings and festivals. While on the new board, she hopes to find cohesiveness during meetings and improve transparency.
“As leaders we have a certain duty to respectfully disagree without causing a ruckus,” Phillips said. “I could help provide the tools to be able to make the meetings more effective.”
As a member of the Andrews Planning Board and past franchise owner, Bill Seal has set his sights on bringing economic growth to the town.
He said people have often asked him, “Why are there so many empty storefronts in Andrews?” His reply is that most of the space owners live out of town, and people can’t afford to rent the buildings.
“I want to bring more jobs and try to see if we can get more businesses in downtown,” he said. “The area between the Andrews Journal office and the Italian restaurant looks really good, if we could just expand that to another block.”
If elected, Seal said he also will focus on making sure the board maintains a sense of respect for one another during the meetings.
Instead of mostly receiving reports back from NFocus, Seal said he would try to have the board actively gain insight from town planner Rick Flowe.
“We need to pick up and learn some of the things that he (Flowe) does and be able to turn it over, so he can work on other projects,” Seal said.
With experience working cohesively on a team, Mike Sheidy, executive director of the Andrews Housing Authority, plans to use his business background to harness opportunities.
“I’d like to represent not only the residents of Andrews, but the businesses which are viable for success,” he said. “We have to manage the town with what we have available.”
A member of the Cherokee County Tourism Authority, Sheidy has witnessed what it takes to create a destination town. He aims to find means of attracting businesses and opportunities for younger people to move back into town.
“I feel like I can work well with other people, where we can make Andrews not only a nice respectable town to live in, but progressive,” he said.
Sheidy said the town spent a lot of money that it didn’t have when funding NFocus. While good things came out of the company, he wants to fine tune how the town utilizes their services.
“You have to be accountable for all the things you do, and in order to do that you need a board that works together with the mayor,” he said.
With a background in building roads and sidewalks, Scott Stalcup sees the importance of maintaining quality infrastructure.
“People don’t want to come to an area where they’re riding on potholes or walking on busted up sidewalks,” he said.
If elected, Stalcup said he would take advantage of the opportunities, such as improving infrastructure, to catalyze economic growth.
“Everyone wants to see their town or city strive, move forward and become great,” he said. “I would try to do everything that I could to ensure that the town continues to move forward and grow.”
As an alderman, Stalcup said he plans to give 110 percent and work cohesively with the new board.
“One of my main goals is unity,” he said. “If you work together you can accomplish a whole lot more. I know that just because I think something might be right, you might not think it’s right. But we can come to a middle ground.”
Having served the town for over 28 years in almost every capacity, Gary Tatham is prepared to lend his experience to Andrews as an alderman.
While living in Andrews he has worked as a police officer, assistant chief of police, facilities superintendent and the lead operator for both the water and wastewater treatment plants.
With his background in drinking water, Tatham intends to focus on improving the town’s quality of water.
“Everyone knows we have one of the poorest sources of water in North Carolina,” he said. “We ought to look for an alternate source of water. There are several sources around here that are a lot better than what we have.”
While he acknowledges the improvements NFocus has brought to the town, Tatham said if he is elected, he would re-evaluate the company’s contract.
“I think they had three bad years and NFocus turned the town around,” he said. “They (NFocus) have done their job. I don’t know whether we can, as a community, afford to keep them. I’m not for continuing their services if they’ve already turned us around and done a good job.”
As a conservative, Tatham said he feels as though the town should stop spending large amounts of the taxpayers’ money outside of the city. He said with the low income average in town, people can’t afford some of the expenditures outside of Andrews.
As a father of three, Heath Woodard has a heart for local youth. If elected, he hopes to launch certain programs for the youth, whether it’s a plan to renovate the skate park or create an event for kids.
Woodard, who previously served as an Andrews police officer, also would like to address the town’s drug issue and promote local law enforcement.
“We definitely have a drug problem in Andrews, and our police department is really short-staffed,” he said. “They (current board) have never fully backed them as far as being a proactive agency. That’s my No. 1 priority, seeing that attitude changed.”
Rather than telling people what they should think, Woodard said he would make a point to ask the community about their needs and wishes.
“I want to make Andrews a place that people can be proud of,” he said. “I want them to come together when something needs to be done and move together as a community. I’m not a politician. I want what’s in the best interest for all the people in town.”