CLAYTON — Voters have a question for their town council candidates several questions in fact.
The Nov. 5 election in Clayton pits three incumbent councilmen against three political newcomers. The incumbents are Michael Grannis, owner of Clayton Steakhouse and Morning Glory Inn; Art Holder, a Clayton native and retiree who has served on the council since 2009; and Bob Satterfield, a local businessman who has served on the council for 16 years.
The challengers are John McFadden, a local jeweler and an organizer of the Millstock Art & Music Festival and Claytons National Night Out Against Crime; Bobby Bunn, a longtime Clayton resident who works for a maintenance company in Durham; and the only female candidate, Eboni Harrell.
In advance of the election, the News-Star asked local business owners and community leaders what theyd like to ask the candidates.
Jim Gottfried, president of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce, said he wants to know how much the candidates support local businesses. I want to make sure theyre supportive of bringing new businesses to Clayton, he said.
Gottfried also wants to know if the candidates would lobby the N.C. Department of Transportation to connect N.C. 42 near Clayton to Interstate 40. That is going to be a huge commercial area in the next few years and could help bring more people and businesses to the area, he said.
Gottfried said he has heard complaints from business owners about Claytons restrictive sign ordinance. Some business owners say the signs allowed under Clayton rules dont give their businesses enough exposure. Others have complained about having to take down expensive signs because they dont conform to Claytons new rules.
Gottfried said he would like the council to make the ordinance fair for businesses.
An inclusive council?
The Rev. Terence Leathers, pastor at Mount Vernon Christian Church, wants to know what the candidates would do to involve more of the electorate in town decision-making.
One of the concerns I continue to have is the lack of representation and involvement by the majority of electorate, particularly those of color, in council meetings and other political forums, Leathers said in an email. He suggests holding council meetings in neighborhoods across town.
Leathers would also ask the candidates, What are the ways in which you would consistently reach out to include all of Claytons residents in the political process?
Leathers is worried, too, about jobs, and hed ask the candidates, What can Clayton do to improve job readiness for youth, ex-offenders and, or people who have been downsized or changed careers due to the sluggish economy? Leathers said the employment rate still remains high: What efforts or partnerships would these candidates employ?
Tom Lipscomb, a longtime Clayton resident, operates the Mosaic Community Garden downtown. He wants to know if the candidates would support electing council members from districts.
As Clayton grows, well need someone from each district on the council, Lipscomb said. It would grant representation to the north and south sides of town.
Andy Hale is pastor of Mosaic Church, which partners with the Mosaic Community Garden. Hed ask the candidates how they would involve the faith community in town affairs.
Id love to see the town council and faith leaders could come together with social organizations to discuss how to help out the community and discuss how to address the social injustices we have in our area, Hale said.
Chris Rodier, a Clayton resident who owns a photography studio, would ask the candidates if they would support replacing the two-lane bridge on N.C. 42 East over the Neuse River. Hed like to see a wider bridge there.