CONCORD, N.C. -- After 21 years of election excitement, Cabarrus County Elections Director Linda Grist will retire at the end of June, handing the reigns to Kannapolis native Carol Link Soles.
The State Board of Election appointed Soles, who has served as secretary of the Cabarrus County Board of Elections for 12 years, based on a recommendation from the local board. Cabarrus County commissioners will vote May 20 on her $56,681.81 salary, which was also recommended by the state.
Soles will begin work on June 1, shadowing Grist for her last month in the position. Soles will take control July 1.
Grist said she’s looking forward to traveling and spending more time with her husband Bill, her children and grandchildren in her retirement. She said her three children all have birthdays within a few weeks of the General Election.
“Needless to say, with elections, I’ve missed almost all of their birthdays for 21 years. It really will be fun to get together and really do some special things,” she said.
Grist said she’s also looking forward to taking a year off and spending time with her grandkids. But then she plans to get involved in nonprofits again like she did before she became elections director, she said.
Soles, 50, is married to Tim Soles, of Lumberton, and they have one daughter, Hannah, who is 12.
Soles is a 1980 graduate of A.L. Brown High School. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Salem College and later earned a master’s of music at UNC-Greensboro. Soles, who recently resigned from the organist position at Kimball Lutheran Church in Kannapolis, taught music at Elon University for three years before returning to school for another degree.
In 1992, Soles graduated from UNC School of Law and returned to Cabarrus County where she practiced real estate and bankruptcy law with Phil Carroll. She later worked for Lawyers Title Insurance Company and then Chicago Title Insurance Company.
Soles hasn’t practiced law since about 2000 when she and her husband opened the Dairy Queen on S. Cannon Boulevard in Kannapolis.
“I’m the cake decorator at least until June 1,” she said. “I’ve got to train my husband.”
While she hasn’t practiced law in more than a decade, Soles has kept her law license current.
“I worked too hard to get that. I’m not going to let it become inactive,” she said. “But I haven’t practiced since we opened the Dairy Queen.”
In 2007, Soles also became certified as a N.C. Administrator of Elections. Grist said she expects Soles to do a great job.
“She understands the work involved and of course having her law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill doesn’t hurt either,” she said.
Soles said she knows she’s taking on a big job and filling big shoes.
“I just want to do as good a job as Linda has done. She is fabulous. I have some huge shoes to fill,” Soles said. “I just want to go in and learn the way she has done it….
When we go to state conferences, they talk about Cabarrus County and it’s because of Linda.”
Contact reporter Karen Cimino Wilson: 704-789-9141.