Mayors in King, Walnut Cove and Danbury are running unopposed for re-election in the Nov. 3 election this year.
Jack Warren is again the mayoral candidate in King, Lynn Lewis is running again in Walnut Cove and Janet Whitt is the candidate in Danbury.
Candidates from each municipality recently responded to a questionnaire prepared by the Stokes News so they could share their vision for the future of their communities. Whitt was unable to respond by press time, and her response will be in next week’s paper. The following are unedited responses from Warren and Lewis:
1. Can you please provide a history of your service as an elected official? When were you first elected to an office? What position was it? How many terms have you been serving as Mayor?
Warren (King) — I was first elected in 1987 to the King City Council where I served 8 years as a Councilman and 2 years as Mayor Pro Tempore. I have served as the Mayor of King for 15 years (4 terms). I also served 1 two-year term on the King Planning Board/Board of Adjustments.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — I started my service as the mayor of Walnut Cove. This is the first elected office that I have held. I was first elected as Mayor of Walnut Cove in November, 2011. I am in my 2nd term.
2. In local elections voters are always interested in candidates’ involvement in the community as a non-elected official. Are you involved in any social clubs or volunteer organizations? Are you involved in any local churches? Is there any family information you would like to share with the voters?
Warren (King) —I have always believed in community involvement. I have been a member of the King Lions Club for 26 years and served as their President twice, an ex-officio member of the King Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 20 years, Carl Calloway American Legion Post #290 for 20+ years (Past Commander), La Societe des Quarante homes et uit Chaveaux – (Chef de Gare Voiture 1556 – 10 years) Advisory Council for Hospice and Palliative Care in Stokes County, Community Advisory Council for Stokes Citizens for Safe and Healthy Communities, and Stokes Takes On Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse/Unlimited Success Advisory Council. I am a member of Olive Grove Baptist Church where I serve as an Usher and on the Building and Ground Committee. I graduated from King High School and Retired from RJ Reynolds as Manager of Program Development with 44.8 years of service. I have been married to my lovely wife, Pamela for 37 years. We have two daughters, Alison and Ashlee, and five grandsons, Drake, Zane, Camden, Braxton, and Sage.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — Over the years I have been involved in various organizations in the community. For several years I was on the board of the Walnut Cove Little League, Walnut Cove Youth Basketball League and Southeastern Stokes Youth Soccer Association. I also coached for many years in these organizations as well. I have also been involved in the Southeastern Stokes Middle School and South Stokes High School Athletic Booster clubs. I am a member of Stokesburg United Methodist Church and belong to the United Methodist Men’s organization. I have been married to my wife Melanie for 27 years and we have 2 sons, Jacob and Dylan and a daughter in law Hannah.
3. What do you see as the three biggest issues facing your community during the next term? How do you propose those issues be addressed?
Warren (King) —#1 Sewer treatment cost – We have commissioned a study to determine whether constructing a sewer treatment plant would be feasible. If our study comes back positive, construct our own plant so we can better control the cost to our citizens and other customers we serve. #2Water and sewer infrastructure – Allocate more funds to replace aging lines whenever possible. #3 Poverty and Senior Services – Work closer with King Outreach Ministries and expand our Senior Center and its services.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — The biggest issues facing Walnut Cove are really not a lot different than many other small towns. We have an aging infrastructure. Much of our water and sewer system has been installed for many, many years and needs to be replaced. We have started the process but it will take several years and dollars to bring up to current standards. Another issue we are facing is economic growth. How do we make our town grow and be able to compete with larger cities? Walnut Cove has a great amount of traffic that comes through the city every day. The question is how do we make it appealing to people coming through and make them want to stop and do business in our town. How do we draw businesses into Walnut Cove? Another issue I see in Walnut Cove is the lack of activities for our youth. We need to be able to provide the youth of Walnut Cove more opportunities to get involved in our town and find interesting things for them to participate in. They are the future of Walnut Cove and we need to be able to provide somewhere for them to go and get involved and us get involved with them.
4. Do you see any reason why taxes in your community would need to be raised during the next term? Why or why not?
Warren (King) —No. At the present time, the city has a healthy fund balance in both the General and Enterprise Funds. The city staff does an excellent job managing taxpayer funds.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — I don’t want to see the taxes in Walnut Cove increase. We need to continually look at our budget and make the right choices on what we spend to use the town’s money as wisely as possible.
5. Do you foresee any reason why your municipality may consider expanding its borders during the next term? Why or why not?
Warren (King) —No. Given that the General Assembly has made it really difficult to annex property and the fact that the city has no need to consider this at the present time.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — I don’t know of any plans in the foreseeable future to expand the borders of Walnut Cove. With the current infrastructure the town really can’t support an expansion.
6. Water and sewer fees are always an issue for municipal residents. What steps would you take to maintain ore lower these rates during your term?
Warren (King) —The City Council budgeted $75,000 in the current 2015-16 budget to study the feasibility of building a sewer treatment plant. We now depend on Winston-Salem for sewer treatment and they control our cost. If we can build our own plant the cost should go down. The new water treatment plant is set to open very soon. Hopefully this will save money by lowering maintenance costs and material costs, which will help to keep our water bills as low as possible.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — Water and sewer problems are one of the biggest issues we face in Walnut Cove. Over the last few years our residents have already faced increases in the rates in order to improve our current system. Hopefully we are in a place now where we can continue to make improvements and keep our rates at the current level.
7. What is your favorite thing about your community? What do you think is your community’s greatest strength?
Warren (King) —Community involvement. I have always believed that community involvement is essential to creating a place where people enjoy living. The way our citizens step up and volunteer when they recognize a need in our community is a big part of what makes King such a great place to live. Our public safety services are a great asset to the community too.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — The people of Walnut Cove are what I love most. The people of Walnut Cove care about one another and they care about this town. They want to see Walnut Cove come back and thrive and are willing to work together to make that happen. We have a lot of people working hard to make Walnut Cove a great place to live.
8. What do you consider to be the best assets/skills/experience you will bring to the table as mayor?
Warren (King) —My experience with budgets, knowledge of N.C. municipal law, and working with all the city staff and our citizens.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — I have definitely learned a lot over the last 4 years so just having some experience helps. I think my ability to see issues from both perspectives that of town official as well as a town citizen helps me to make better decisions on what is best for our town.
9. Why have you decided to run for re-election?
Warren (King) —I want to see a couple of projects finished and I love working with our citizens and city staff.
Lewis (Walnut Cove) — I ran for re-election for Mayor because I think we have some good things going on in town. I think we’re growing and I want to continue to help move Walnut Cove forward. We made some great strides over the last 4 years. We installed new sidewalks, made improvements in the water/sewer system, and got the License Plate Agency back in Walnut Cove. I’d like to be a part of more positive change for the town.
10. Is there anything else you would like the voters to know about you or your candidacy?
Warren (King) — I feel really blessed and honored to have served this community and would be honored to serve another term. I encourage everyone to VOTE on November 3rd.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.