Belmont Muncipal Elections

City Speaks – Even if it was less than 30% of Eligible Voters

There were some bright spots in the Municipal elections yesterday. 

Two new people were elected to council — Martha Stowe and Ron Foulk. One incumbent, Charlie Flowers returned to office.

Belmont Council

* Martha S. Stowe 852 20 %
* Ron Foulk 710 17 %
* Charles Flowers 556 13 %
Richard Turner 517 12 %
Curtis Gaston 509 12 %
Irl Dixon 501 12 %
Becky Burch 361 8 %
Dennis Boyce 230 5 %
Karen Valentine 56 1 %
Write-in 8 0 %

Congratulations to the new and returning council members. However, the dynamic does not change al that much.

Becky Burch was replaced by an ally in Ron Foulk. His positions on growth management  are still fuzzy and we wonder if his job responsibilities may interfer with his ability to be an effective member of council. He is a vert smart and articulate administrator and that pleases all of us, because he will take the time to read and research issues that come before council – not blindly vote as directed by others. As a community, we encourage you to watch Mr. Foulk carefully on issues such as city personnel and public safety, strategic planning, view points on annexation-related services and timelines. A person can do a lot of damage in 4 years.

Charlie Flowers’ support has diminished in this election, earning only 556 votes this time around. The overall turnout and number of candidates certainly contributed to the number. We hope that he would have promised to stay awake through the council meetings and work sessions in return for his re-election bid, but he didn’t offer that to the voters. It is difficult to see if he will still carry his chip on the shoulder towards newcomers to the community or if he will embrace the positives that come with planned growth and management.

The new triumvirate will line up with Flowers, Foulk, and Martin setting the tone and quite possibly fighting the manager’s and mayor’s overall strategic comprehensive growth agenda. Basically, this election result guarantees that we will see at least two more years of personal agendas over what is best for the community.

Martha Stowe brings a good mind and energy to the council. We hope that she will remain even-handed in this public role. She is certainly articulate and will speak her mind.

All are supporters of parks and recreation plans. That is a good thing. With the approval of the Bond, the Parks and Recreation Department can seriously begin work on their master plan of 2003.

Belmont Park and Rec. Bond – $12,000,000
* Yes 1,046 69 %
No 477 31 %

We certainly expect that Mr. Dixon and his 100-year family legacy will be back for either another run for council or to challenge as Mayor. That will bear watching the next two years.

Again, we will support — and watch carefully — as the new council members are seated and begin their term. 

Bond Referendums

The Belmont Chamber of Commerce is endorsing both Bond Referendums on the November 6 ballot.

We are agreeing to this endorsement as well.

Vote yes for the $12 million Parks and Recreation Bonds.

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Vote yes for the $175 million School Bonds.

School Bonds Information: bond_small.jpg

school-bonds-critical-to-our-children.pdf

Endorsement Party Discussion

What a great evening !   endorsements.jpg

Food, drink, friends and neighbors. Discussing politics among friends can get touchy from time to time, but the great food made up for it.

Everyone walked away with a good feeling about the following recommendations:

  • Your vote is crucial to the foward movement of Belmont, its extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), and the next generation of families and citizens.
  • Every vote counts. Do not underestimate the power of one vote, just remember to get out and make the effort. Multiply your effectiveness by calling your neighbor and offering to help them get to a polling station.
  • Becky Burch and Charlie Flowers need to be retired by election out of office. Both have continued to perpetuate the good ‘ol boy backwoods emotion of pitting newcomers against the hometown-born and raised. They are inneffective as a team and inconsequential as free-thinkers.

The Belmont Front Porch is endorsing Dennis Boyce, Martha Stowe, and Richard Turner for City Council.

Dennis Boyce, no relation to Mayor Richard Boyce, has demonstrated a willingness to become involved with the community politics and represent the North Belmont Community that for years has been underserved. Mr. Boyce will represent the community in an educated manner, listen to both sides of a story, and not have preconceived notions about his own pocketbook.

We feel that Martha Stowe deserves your vote and support because she too will bring a sense of fairness to the council discussions. Martha is knowledgeable about the issues, has a good connection to the younger people of the community, and continues to work hard in a number of community activities that are not always sports-related. She will not be anybody’s patsie.

Richard Turner was the toughest decision for endorsement. However, we do feel that ultimately he too will be fair in his council decisions and processing of the issues. Our concern is over his axe-grinding on public-private partnerships. He has demonstrated a willingness to  learn more about an issue, even if he openly disagrees, he is civil in his overall behaviors and will talk to opponents.

Independent voices for an independent and thriving community. It is your choice, we still love you Belmont, whether you agree with our choices or not.

See ya’ll on Tuesday !

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Ahh, Canvassing – The Best Part of Local Politics

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The best and most intimate form of political work is the old-fashioned, door-to-door, canvassing for votes.

Kudos to Belmont City Council candidate, Richard Turner for recognizing and putting out his platform in the door-to-door format.

 Turner’s Platform: richard-turner-platform.pdf

Irl Dixon’s format is to mail something to everyone. Of course, it helps that his office is located on the corner of Myrtle/McLeod and Main Street (Coldwell Banker Realty office). He has a chance to talk to everyone who walks by him. Irl also has a record to run on for this election.

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Irl Dixon’s flyer: irl-dixon-mailing.pdf

Our editorial board has not agreed on any endorsement at this point. We will be meeting on Saturday evening for our annual Endorsement Dinner Party and will report the results on Sunday night.

To fill in the newbies to our blogsite, the Endorsement Dinner Party is an unpretentious (ok, just a bit pretentious), intimate gathering of the BFP Editiorial board and their significant others for great food, libation, and humorous discussion (We often have these dinners, this just happens to be prior to this election).

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Yeah, Right

It is more like this:

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This year’s Endorsement Dinner will be to discuss the candidates, and try to achieve a concensus on who to recommend to our friends and neighbors.

More On Belmont’s Council Candidates

Two websites, Topix.com and GastonPolitics.com have had some interesting discussions about the Belmont City Council elections.

Many of the same commentary that has been found here, just repeated across the different blog sites. These are both in forum style and are in real-time whereas, this site has screened responses (called, moderation) according to the “rules of civility” found on another page here.

To review, the city council election has three incumbents and 5 challenging candidates for 3 slots on council. This is a 4-year position. The new council will be sworn in at the December meeting of the City Council.

How this election impacts the citizens of Belmont:

  • Planning & Zoning concerns are on the table with a need for teeth in the regulations and ordinances
  • Strategic Growth Planning is crucial to a patterned response to the needs of the existing community, which includes roads, water, utilities, etc.
  • Quality of Life issues such as parks, workforce housing, and recreation are focal points
  • The other issues that always present themselves, such as jobs, taxes, etc.

The Belmont Banner published a special on-line page, which surprised us here on the Front Porch. The BannerNews website must be in development stages… anyway, we are glad that this page was set up to be viewed by the public. Please review that page as well.

Encourage our neighbors and friends to get out on Tuesday to vote. With the paving project going on along Central Avenue, some people may be discouraged  by the traffic issues in the morning or later in the day. Plan out your Tuesday to take time to vote.

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Pictures of the Challenger Candidates:

richard-turner.jpg  martha-stowe.jpg  curtis-gaston.jpg  ron-foulk.jpg dennis-boyce.jpg

Pictures of the Incumbents standing for Reelection:

irl-dixon.jpg      charlie-flowers.jpg      becky-burch.jpg

YOUR CHOICE – YOUR FUTURE

Why is It ?

Gaston County is a very interesting county. We DO love it for all of its quirks, foibles, and life. That is why we chose to live here. Some have returned, some have never left, and some discovered this little jewel of a region-within-a-region.

 Why is then, that each of the 13 organized and incorporated towns have to:

a) copy each other and duplicate a service, project, or program?

b) have competition, spurred on by local media, to be the “best of…” whatever?

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The Belmont Front Porch commented on a Gazette article about Belmont being the most walkable community in the county.

Yet, the picture on the front page of the Gastonia Gazette didn’t even feature local people. One was visiting from California, one had just recently (we’re talking a couple of months) relocated here (so, yeah she is local – give ya’ that one), and one was visiting from somewhere else. Anyway,

Each town has its own police department, parade, festivals, sports leagues, even things like fund-raising walks/runs. Recent (albeit, good) stuff has included the trendy things like street “dances/concerts” in the summer.

These copycat ideas go back to the mill village days, where every village had its own everything.  

So, what makes Belmont special in its own way?

Can’t be the revival of the miniature train – Gastonia’s already done that.

Could it be our “central park”? Stowe Park, is definitely unique to the towns and bergs of Gaston County.

Could it be our sports teams? Not really, each town had its own high school(s) back in the day (before 1969). Those allegiances carry over today as evidenced by last night’s football contest in Dallas (North Gaston HS).

Mt. Holly has a historical society, so does Belmont now. Belmont has a thriving downtown, Mt. Holly is moving in that direction somewhat painfully. Gastonia tries, but Gas-town has its own issues — like a major federal road through the downtown area and a recently constructed “ditch” for the railroad in town.  

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Every town has fireworks in the summer. Every town is striving to revive its swimming pool. McAdenville, Cramerton, Bessemer City, Cherryville, and Gastonia have all renovated the outdoor facilities in the past 5 years.

So, rather than feeling like we gotta keep up with the Joneses (or in Gaston County – the Stowes, Linebergers, Beams, and Rhynes), why don’t we cooperate on some of these things?

Every new idea is rife with in-fighting. Some of the recent examples are the horse ring, the senior center, the visitor’s center — still have a hard time figuring that one out –, and restaurants and hotels. Not much that some towns can do about certain business decisions though.

Even our current city council elections are offering more of the same – wistful rememberances of days growing up in town, and the standard fare of roads, taxes, schools, and growth. The other towns are doing the same thing. 

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Why is that?

  

Belmont City Council | Candidate bios

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This is an update from a previously posted article from October 18.

It was posted in the Gaston/Lincoln Neighbors Section of the Observer.

Note: Candidate Dennis Boyce did not return a questionnaire.         dennis-boyce.jpg

His bio and statement are linked here.

Becky Burch     becky-burch.jpg     Age: 77  Birthplace: Shelby.

Home address: 500 Hawley Ave.

Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: GED from Cornerstone Christian School in 2002; interior decorating and design certificate from Gaston College.

Family: Husband, Harold; two adult sons.

Occupation: Retired.

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 2003-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Attend Alexander Memorial Baptist Church.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3028.

Last book read: “Refuge” by Dot Jackson.

Favorite movie: “The Sound of Music.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Billy Graham: “Because he had a positive impact on so many people.”

Why are you running? “Encourage and promote economic growth through development that provides jobs, lower taxes and water rates; want to see a closed textile plant remodeled for a nursing home; unfinished work like in east Belmont, north Belmont and Reid Community; I am proud of the jobs I have helped create in the past four years and I have unfinished work, like the Montcross Development.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Growth; we need more city employees like police and firemen.

• Roads.

• Schools.









Irl Dixon   irl-dixon.jpg    Age: 57. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 1008 Damon Point Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in English, radio, television and motion pictures from UNC Chapel Hill.
Family: Wife, Trudy; one adult son.

Occupation: Broker-in-charge at Coldwell Banker-Black and Whisnant Properties in Belmont .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of First Presbyterian Church; past deacon and Sunday school superintendent.
How can voters contact you? Work, 704-829-7556; home, 704-825-2148; irl@carolina.rr.com.Last book read: “The Kite Runner.”Favorite movies: “Ben-Hur” and “Citizen Kane.”Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Theodore Roosevelt: “The man was amazing. He was a sickly boy who decided at an early age to challenge his mind and his body. He founded our National Park System, was shot giving a campaign speech but finished his address anyway, and after his presidency he almost died exploring an uncharted river in South America. I would like to know where he got his boundless energy.”Why are you running? “My family has lived in the Belmont area for 100 years. I want to make sure that during our current growth period the city evolves into a place my son would be happy to stay and raise his family. I don’t want to just maintain, but improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• Growth: “We just developed a land use and transportation plan. It must be given teeth and used..”• Expansion of extraterritorial jurisdiction: “Our zoning control needs to be expanded to the boundaries used in the land use plan to give us more control over the sprawling growth the county allows.”

• Buy land and build more parks and fields for our kids to use.








Charles Flowers     charlie-flowers.jpg  Age: 64. Birthplace: Belmont.
Home address: 307 Ferrell Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Graduate of Belmont High School; associate’s degree in criminal justice from Gaston College; associate’s degree from Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute; bachelor’s degree in religion from Mid-Atlantic Bible College Seminary; master’s degrees in ministry and theology from Rock Hill Bible College.

Family: Wife Arlene; one adult son.

Occupation: Retired chief of police of Belmont Police Department .

Elected offices: Belmont City Council, 1999-present.

Religious/civic organizations: Deacon and trustee at Unity Baptist Church; past president of Kiwanis International; Gaston County Law Enforcement Association; North Carolina Police Officers Association.

How can voters contact you? 704-363-6484; 704-825-9146.

Last book read: “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.”

Favorite movie: “Dances with Wolves.”
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Sitting Bull, leader for the Sioux Nation.Why are you running? “I love the people of Belmont. I have lived here all my life and know what Belmont means to the people. I feel that I have and can continue to represent the people of Belmont well.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking: • Growth.• Schools.• Taxes.







Ron Foulk  ron-foulk.jpg      Age: 61. Birthplace: Mount Holly, N.J.
Home address: 101 James Drive.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: 
Bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University; master’s degree in education from UNC Charlotte.
Family: Wife, Frankie; two adult sons.

Occupation: Principal of Rankin Elementary School with Gaston County Schools.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont United Methodist Church; member of N.C. Association of Educators; member of National Educators Association; member of National Association of Elementary School Principals.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-2798.

Last book read: “The World is Flat.”


Favorite movie: No response.
Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Harry Truman: “I liked his idea of `the buck stops here.’ He had a sense of responsibility and could make the tough decision.”Why are you running? “There are many challenges facing our town: rising water and sewer rates, increased taxes, loss of jobs, increased traffic and over-crowded schools, to name a few. I would like to be a part of guiding the community through the period of rapid change. I want Belmont to be a quality community.”The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:• To be able to promote growth that enhances the community and has a positive impact on the tax base.• Budget responsibility — holding all departments accountable for being good stewards of taxpayer money.• Evaluating, maintaining and upgrading infrastructure to meet the demands of a rapidly growing community and work with community and other elected officials to address school and traffic needs.








Curtis Gaston     curtis-gaston.jpg     Age: 43. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 123 McLeod Ave.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in speech communication and master’s degree in fine arts from UNC Greensboro.

Family: Single.

Occupation: Filmmaker, visual artist.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: Member of Belmont Abbey; Belmont Historical Society.

How can voters contact you? 704-968-4772;
curtisgaston@gmail.com; www.curtisgaston.com.
Last book read: “Last Night of the Earth Poems” by Charles Bukowski.

Favorite movie: “Point Break.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Charlie Chaplin. “He’s just been my all-time favorite filmmaker. I just think he’s a very interesting person.”

Why are you running? “Each resident in a community should participate with their local government in shaping public policy. I grew up in Belmont and want to preserve its small-town charm. At the same time, I believe in the overall vision our current city leaders have and will help reach their goals. I support a smart and workable moratorium on housing developments.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• Sustainability, ensuring that Belmont maintains its high quality of life and high level of service by creating long-term, resilient and flexible strategies regarding a new economic direction and strong protection from over-development.• The need to create a new city identity.• Formulating a workable plan to make Stowe Botanical Garden and Belmont Abbey College more visible and important in everyday Belmont life.


Martha Stowe  martha-stowe.jpg  Age: 55.  Birthplace: Lincolnton.
Home address: 3132 Channelview Landing.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in math and German from Wake Forest University.


Family:
Husband, Sam; three adult children.
Occupation:

Math teacher at South Point High School in Belmont.

Elected offices: None.


Religious/civic organizations: Elder at First Presbyterian Church in Belmont; education committee; Connect Gaston greenway; Keep Belmont Beautiful, Botanical Garden Board of Visitors; Belmont Housing Authority.


How can voters contact you? 704-825-2683;
marthastowe@hotmail.com.
Last book read: “Building the Bridge as you Walk on It” by Robert Quinn.

Favorite movie: “The Devil Wore Prada.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: George Washington: “I would enjoy discussing `then and now’ with regard to life and politics with him.

Why are you running? “Many residents have encouraged me to run because I received strong support from voters in the previous election. I have good people skills, negotiating skills, and have no fear to speak out for principles. My interest in managing growth in Belmont began in 1994 as a result of my participation in the forum used to design a new zoning ordinance framework.”

The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:
• I will work with the county and state to ensure that local schools and roads keep up with local growth.• I will work to control and manage new growth on the Belmont peninsula.• I will work to protect and preserve our quality of life (parks, greenways, tree canopy, public recreation facilities for all ages, fire and police protection and diversify the tax base).










Richard Turner  richard-turner.jpg   Age: 45. Birthplace: Charlotte.
Home address: 315 Dogwood Lane.
Office running for: Belmont City Council.

Education: Graduate of Charlotte Catholic High School, East Mecklenburg.

Family: Wife, Marie; three children.

Occupation: Import-export broker.

Elected offices: None.

Religious/civic organizations: PTO board member, legislative representative, for Belmont Central Elementary.

How can voters contact you? 704-825-3302; 704-685-3139, home; fax: 704-825-3302; e-mail:
richardturner@carolina.rr.com.
Last book read: “In Dubious Battle.”

Favorite movie: “The Homecoming.”

Fictional or historical figure you’d like to meet and why: Did not respond

Why are you running? “I would like to see Belmont’s growth managed better. An adequate public facilities ordinance will do this. Essentially it stipulates that a community cannot grow beyond its ability to provide services at the city (water, sewer etc.) and county level (primarily school capacity). Seek new revenue streams which do not burden the citizens of Belmont who now shoulder an excessive amount in property taxes.”


The three main issues facing the office you are seeking:

• Managing growth to conform to a vision of what Belmont’s citizens want in their community. I intend, if elected, to pursue mechanisms to maintain Belmont’s identity and quality of life.

• Taxes: I would pursue reviews of franchise fees and the implementation of specific revenue stream such as hotel and entertainment taxes to reduce the present property tax rate.

• Developing recreation facilities for adults and youth.