Union County residents will make their way to the polls one final time before the general election in November to decide who will join current Vice-Chairman Jerry Simpson and candidate Lance Simpson on the general election ballot.
Tracey Kuehler and Stony Rushing will face off in another election after Kuehler filed for a runoff following the May primary, where Rushing came in third with 4,289 votes and Kuehler fourth with 4,188. A write-in candidate is the only challenge the three candidates appearing on the November ballot could face, as no Democrats are filed to run.
Both candidates have four years of past experience on the board under their belt – Kuehler from 2008 to 2012 and Rushing from 2002 to 2006. But prior experience on the board isn’t the only way the two are similar. Both hope to help repair relationships between the Union County Board of County Commissioners and other groups and organizations throughout the county they say have been damaged over the years.
“The county commissioners need to be able to lead this county,” Rushing said. “We need people that understand that. We need people that are going to work together and work with all of the other boards and towns.”
And that’s also something Kuehler plans to work toward if elected.
“I think the No. 1 priority is fixing the relationships between the county and the board of education, municipalities and the citizens,” she said. “I think the county is very fractured right now and we need a big healing process.”
Both candidates also have worked with other organizations in the community over the years in addition to their time on the board of county commissioners. Kuehler previously served as the founding PTA president at Kensington Elementary School, a non-resident member of the Waxhaw Comprehensive Plan committee, the fundraising chair for the Cuthbertson booster club, a member of the Girl Scouts of America Hornet’s Nest Council and various other committees. Rushing served as the district chairman for the Boy Scouts of America for three years and has spent many years as an education instructor, among other roles in the community.
While Kuehler’s No. 1 priority is fixing broken relationships throughout the county, Rushing hopes to “get the sewer policy under control” to help manage growth seen in all areas of Union County.
“How we manage our sewer, that’s going to be the biggest challenge we have,” he said. “That’s one of my biggest goals, managing the growth as county commissioners.”
But when it comes to the biggest defining difference between the candidates, Kuehler says Rushing will be more hands-off with Union County organizations, while she plans to work hand-in-hand, collaboratively planning for the future of the county.
“I think it needs to be more collaborative and people working together and organizations coming together where all of the stakeholders are working together,” Kuehler said.
Although Rushing says he does want to partner with organizations and work together, it isn’t the role of commissioners to dictate all of the decisions made in the county, he said.
“I don’t have any desire to tell people what to do,” he said. “I just want to tell people how we can work together and fix the problems and plan.”
Early voting is open at the Union County Public Library, 316 E. Windsor St. in Monroe until Saturday, July 12. Library hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. People can find their poll location and more information about Union County elections at co.union.nc.us/BoardOfElections.aspx.