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Here's a look at the eight candidates seeking office in Conover this year
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Here's a look at the eight candidates seeking office in Conover this year

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Downtown Conover was going through some renovations in this photo from 2017. The city will elect three members of the city council and a mayor next month.

Conover residents will have a new mayor and at least one new member of city council after fall elections conclude.

Incumbent council members Joie Fulbright and Mark Canrobert are running to retain their seats against challengers Brenda Powell and Richard Thompson. Both Powell and Thompson have unsuccessfully run for office before — Powell for Conover City Council and Thompson for county commissioner.

Voters will also decide who will fill the remaining two years of former Councilman Don Beal’s term. Beal resigned from the council last spring. Jim Green, David Morrow and Phillip Hawn are running to fill that seat.

Conover will elect a new mayor but there is no contest for the position. Kyle Hayman, who currently serves as the mayor pro tem, is the sole candidate running to replace outgoing Mayor Lee Moritz.

Here’s a look at the candidates:

Joie Fulbright

Joie Fulbright

Fulbright

What makes you the right person to be the people's representative on the city council?

I really enjoy listening to all of my neighbors' ideas and opinions about the future of our city and it is my privilege to represent their voices on the council.

When I initially ran for Conover City Council, it was because I was frustrated with a few of the changes in our city. I felt like I wasn't heard so I fully understand it is my humble obligation as a councilman now and in the future to hear my neighbors and work for them to keep our city a great place to call home.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community, and what solution would you support to that problem?

Our challenge is to keep our unique identity.

Conover always has been and hopefully always will be a true community dedicated to respectful and fiscally-responsible growth while honoring our heritage.

So the solution, in my opinion, is to continue forward cohesively to keep our wonderful city Conover.

 What actions would you support as council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

Honestly, I am proud of the work Conover City Council has done for the residents of Conover while I have been a councilman because we as a collective have kept taxes low, supported our police, fire, public works and staff and remained focused on always trying to uphold the high standards of our city.

So I am respectfully asking for your vote for reelection to Conover City Council because I still have the passion and determination to be the peoples' voice.

Richard E. Thompson

Richard Thompson

Thompson

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

I have been blessed to serve in the past and present on local, state and national committees and commissions.

These experiences have given me opportunities to serve in leadership roles, while learning unique perspectives. I can bring a fresh perspective as an independent thinker as well as a team member to the council.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to that problem?

• Enhance presence of law enforcement in the downtown areas to slow down traffic.

• Create additional parking areas in downtown.

• Create more activity at the amphitheater area with planned/promoted musical groups while providing a variety of food trucks — Friday Night Live format.

• Continue to keep taxes as low as possible, without needless fees, while providing efficient and effective public services and public safety.

What actions would you support as council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

• Continue to keep designated funds to purchase needed supplies, training and equipment without having to finance them.

• Seek creative ways to enhance existing neighborhoods, while creating new living areas for younger generations to want to live, work, and raise a family in Conover.

• Continue to enhance opportunities for newly advanced technologies and industries to locate within Conover.

• Enhance collaboration with surrounding municipalities and counties, seeking grants together on the state and federal levels.

Brenda Powell

Brenda Powell

Powell

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

I have lived in Conover my entire life and believe there is no better place to live, work and raise a family.

I have enjoyed supporting our city through a broad range of community endeavors. My contributions as a community leader were recognized by the city of Conover with the Outstanding Community Service Award (2006-2008) and the Outstanding Citizenship Award (2018).

My service means I have relationships with a significant part of the Conover community. I know and care about the needs of our citizens, and will bring connected and consistent leadership to the role.

In addition to my community work, my experience owning and operating my own business has equipped me to understand the concerns of our businesses and citizens and to be a trusted partner to them in addressing issues.

I have a vision for the way that Conover can be a home to still more local businesses and flourish into the future. I am running for the Conover City Council because I care about our citizens, businesses, community and our future.

My history of collaboration with city leaders, police and fire departments, public works, local nonprofits, our churches and our youth makes me the right person to help continue to move Conover forward.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to those problems?

While our city leaders have done a good job managing our city, I plan to bring a fresh, creative and collaborative perspective to the Conover City Council with a focus on building a more inclusive and innovative community that will enable our businesses and community to thrive in the future.

I contend our future lies in our youth and young adults. The challenge is keeping our young adults working and raising their families in Conover after graduating from high school and college.

I believe a vibrant community and uptown would attract young people and families. I will communicate and work with businesses and our younger population to bring about the changes that would keep young people here and bring back those who have left.

What actions would you support as council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

I will work for Conover to have:

• Continued growth of the Conover economy by attracting not only manufacturing, but businesses and industries to our city.

• Better economic and job development/training opportunities for Conover citizens.

• Engaging opportunities and activities for young people, our future leaders.

• Parks, facilities, programs and amenities that would appeal to families.

• Stronger connections and communication between our city government, businesses, and communities.

I believe these actions will be necessary if we are to create a sustainable, attractive and viable community for years to come.

Mark Canrobert

Mark Canrobert

Canrobert

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

I have called Conover home all my life and care deeply about its future.

I have been honored to serve the citizens of Conover for the last eight years and I am extremely proud of the many things that our council together with our city staff has been able to accomplish. These include best-in-class services for our citizens; infrastructure maintenance and development; support for the expansion of existing businesses; encouragement of numerous prospective employers, many of whom have located in our city; expansion of our parks; downtown beautification and many others.

My business career includes 40 years with Chase Corporation, where I have managed product development, factories and business segments. While facility manager at Chase’s Lenoir operation, I worked with state, county and city governments to secure grants, which allowed our company to expand and create jobs for the community.

My work experience also includes three years in China where I supervised the construction and startup of a manufacturing facility. Working in Asia taught me why employers choose to locate outside of the U.S. and why others continue to maintain US-based manufacturing. I believe these are valuable perspectives — domestic and international — as our city strives to expand its economic base.

In addition to my service on Conover’s council, I was privileged to serve more than five years on the Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education.

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Though challenged by ‘No Child Left Behind’ and reduced funding, our board, administrators, teachers, staff, parents and students made NCCS one of the top performing school systems in North Carolina.

At Concordia Lutheran Church and school, I have served on and chaired many boards and have been congregational president. Each role had its blessings and challenges as we worked together to grow God’s kingdom.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to that problem?

COVID brought unanticipated and unprecedented challenges to our community over the last 18-plus months. The priority for our council and the other governing bodies of our county and state has been to keep our citizens and staff safe. Unfortunately, the pandemic is still with us, and we all must continue to remain diligent.

Longer term, I believe the biggest challenge we face in our community and throughout the county is the development of tomorrow’s workforce to support the increased demands of our current and future employers.

Our council has supported K-64, an education initiative structured to equip students of all ages with the necessary skills for today’s jobs as well as tomorrow’s. The focus of this effort includes not only our youth, but also working-age adults.

What actions would you support as council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

• Vision: Ensure Conover’s goals represent the wishes of the majority, are clearly defined, are frequently reviewed, are carefully measured and are widely communicated.

• Job Creation: Make Conover business friendly. Actively encourage economic development projects from both new and existing employers, which will provide job growth for our community.

• Fiscal Responsibility: Minimize city taxes by ensuring that all city expenditures are necessary, justified and benefit the community.

• Services: Provide state-of-the-art services to the citizens of Conover, including police protection, fire protection, roads, facilities, water, sanitation, waste removal and others.

• Comforts: Maintain Conover’s hometown feel and bring our citizens together through support of our local businesses, library, parks, community areas, farmers market and other citywide gatherings.

• Cooperation: Work hand-in-hand with federal, state and local agencies to make sure that Conover receives its fair share of any available outside funding.

• Heritage: Honor Conover’s remarkable past by remembering what we have done right and use this knowledge to guide our future.

Race for Unexpired Beal Term 

Phillip Hawn

Phillip Hawn

Hawn

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

I understand the role and responsibility of the city council in Conover. I try to look at each issue with an open mind and listen to the input of the citizens of Conover. Then use this input from the citizens to respond.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to that problem?

I feel that attracting and retaining experienced employees will be an important challenge for the city of Conover.

I think that the city of Conover starting with a salary survey back in July was an important first step. Next the city council will need to follow up and act on the recommendations that are identified in the salary survey.

What actions would you support as council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

I think attracting employment opportunities through existing and potential employers, and also attracting affordable quality housing will be necessary to keep the city of Conover a sustainable, viable community for the generations to come.

David Morrow

David Morrow

Morrow

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

As a civil servant for over 14 years during my tenure as council member and city mayor, I have been involved with serving the citizens, working with our local schools and churches. Over these past years I have seen many issues that have been resolved with the help of our governing board to find lasting solutions and develop new directions to help our community.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to that problem?

One of the major challenges facing our community is how to effectively deal with the ongoing pandemic and how it has affected our citizens, local businesses and economic impacts.

We must address the ongoing needs of our schools and to further educate our youth regarding changing day-to-day activities.

In other words, we should be active in local issues so that we are aware of situations occurring in our community.

I’m a firm believer that good communication is key to building trust and influence among others for the future of our city.

What actions would you support as a council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

One action I would suggest is the creation of a City Youth Council. To engage our youth in various programs and committees that would be beneficial to our citizens and community.

Support programs that would help retain our educated youth and encourage them to take part in local government.

Research ways to recruit new businesses, large and small, that will sustain future generations. Continue to provide exceptional services to our citizens.

Jim Green

Jim Green

Green

What makes you the right person to be the people’s representative on the city council?

I believe that I am the right candidate to serve the citizens of Conover because of my previous service on the Granite Falls City Council and the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

I understand balancing a budget and payroll needs along with the many opportunities and issues city government faces. I have been a resident of Conover for 4 1/2 years.

What do you see as the important challenge/problem facing your community and what solution would you support to that problem?

I believe an important challenge of Conover is traffic patterns and the growth of our city. I would like to see more traffic studies from the N.C. Department of Transportation to promote safer traffic patterns and speed limits. Safety is crucial to our citizens and employees as our city continues to grow.

Also, the retention of our employees is imperative as they are the backbone of our city and one of the most valuable assets we have. I want to make sure they have the tools to do their jobs and retain their talents.

Taxes/fees are also a very important issue. I will not support any tax increase unless there is absolutely no way to avoid it. I will not support any unnecessary fees such as fees to own a vehicle.

What actions would you support as a council member to ensure Conover is a sustainable, viable community for future generations?

For the future of Conover, I want to see us continue to build relationships/communications with our current business owners and work together with our Economic Development Commission on new development and growth in Conover.

With the widening of N.C. Hwy. 16 completion nearing, we need to be sure our city is ready to meet the future.

I would also like to see more young citizens involved in our city government.

Conover mayor (unopposed)

Kyle J. Hayman 

Kyle Hayman

Hayman

Why are you running for this office and what would you want to achieve in office?

I am running for mayor of Conover to continue to keep Conover as the best place to live, work and play.

Conover has been blessed with great leadership from both our mayors and council members for many decades.

I believe I have the ability to continue proven leadership in the position of mayor of Conover. I have the commitment to work with all members of the city council and city staff to provide the best possible services for Conover citizens.

Through the efforts of council and staff, Conover has seen the start of new businesses and existing businesses expand.

Through the use of grants and public-private partnerships, we have expanded our downtown park and made sure Conover’s roads, sidewalks and infrastructure are the best in Catawba County.

Maintaining great communication and relationships with council, staff and citizens is important. In Conover, it takes a team comprised of the mayor, council, and staff working together, and I believe our team has proven to have much success. We must continue to work as a team to provide the best services to all Conover citizens at the most affordable rate possible.

Low tax rates and great services are just some of the reasons why businesses are locating and expanding in Conover which creates new jobs and sustains existing jobs for our citizens.

Some of the items I hope to achieve in office include working with developers to address the shortage of available housing; working with employers and educators in an effort to create and maintain a trainable workforce to fill existing job openings; strengthening our relationships with our neighboring municipalities; and, continue to maintain a business-friendly environment in Conover in an effort to put people back to work.

Together we will keep Conover as the best place to live, work and play.

Kevin Griffin is the City of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.

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