WAXHAW – Mayor Steve Maher will not seek re-election, leaving five candidates to campaign for his seat.
Edwin Elam, Ericka McKnight, Jon Perdue, Bob Morgan and Ronald Pappas will be on the ballot in the town’s general election Nov. 5.
Elam moved to Waxhaw with his wife after being the director of small business at the Memphis Chamber of Commerce.
Elam said he uncovered the town had not upgraded the sewer system in his area, the east side of Waxhaw, for 79 years. Since then, he said $6 million has been generated to upgrade the sewer system and has allowed people in the area to develop their property. He also noticed other issues.
“Delving into that particular issue, you discover a lot of other issues that the town had not met by treating all citizens the same in its uniform development code,” Elam said. “You also see some bias in our town in departments. And only a person trained with a global eye like I’ve been trained can notice that.”
Seeing these issues prompted Elam to run for mayor.
“It was important to step up with the skill set we have to solve the challenges that Waxhaw faces, not only to correct some of the things that have been challenges, but we have a vision for the future,” Elam said. “That’s why I’m running for mayor. Because we have solutions that address all people when you are able to see things from both sides of the street.”
McKnight has lived in Waxhaw for 12 years. She is running because she wants to help others experience all that she loves about Waxhaw.
“I decided to run for office because I felt as though I can contribute to the city, meaning the quality of life, influence and just the freedom to enjoy all the benefits that Waxhaw has to offer,” McKnight said.
McKnight announced her campaign for mayor in November 2018, making her the first of the candidates to start campaigning.
“I hope that shows voters that this was a decision that was made so long ago,” McKnight said. “I am the candidate to be able to take our city to the next level and be able to give us that type of platform where other cities continue to admire what’s going on in Waxhaw.”
Perdue is a 30-year resident of Union County and a 10-year Waxhaw resident.
“It’s a great place to raise a family. My children are here. My grandchildren are in the area,” Perdue said. “I want to see Waxhaw flourish. I want to see Waxhaw do wonderful things, but I want to see Waxhaw keep its identity and that’s why I’m running.”
Perdue sees Waxhaw’s identity as a small town with a family-centric environment.
“Growth’s inevitable,” Perdue said. “We understand it’s going to happen. But we do need to keep that small-town feel … We want to continue that. People say, ‘I would love to move to Waxhaw. That’s where I would choose to raise my family.’ So no matter how big we get, I want people to be able to go downtown and know people and their neighbors and feel good about where they live.”
All candidates see traffic and infrastructure as two of the biggest issues facing the town.
Elam said he believes he can address some of the underlying issues of traffic and infrastructure from an inclusive perspective.
“Waxhaw is one of those towns 31 miles southeast of Charlotte that never saw or planned for the kind of growth we’re experiencing,” Elam said. “People want to run from what it is that we should all be communicating with one another. And in America, there’s nowhere to run anymore. You have to make a stand and fight for the right issues that actually deal with all people.”
Elam said an inclusive perspective will also be better for bringing businesses to the area because they will be drawn to areas where people are treated the same way.
McKnight does not see division as a town-wide issue.
“It is an individual issue,” McKnight said. “It’s not an issue for the citizens as a whole in Waxhaw because we are becoming very diverse, and so the goal is to implement certain activities to educate our citizens on the cultures that are coming into the area so therefore everyone will be accepted. Because everyone deserves to live in Waxhaw and so the more we educate people, the better it will be for everyone.”
She also hopes to address infrastructure and transportation, along with the preservation of green space.
“We want to bring more commercial businesses, so different restaurants for the ability for people to choose, different stores they want to shop at, fast food restaurants in addition to different types of businesses,” McKnight said. “The citizens want more options for family-related activities. A lot of people want to be able to enjoy their city.”
While traffic and infrastructure are important issues to Perdue, he also would like to keep Waxhaw’s growth in check.
“We need to have [a unified development ordinance] that encompasses the vision and input of the Waxhaw citizens and from that point, we can move forward,” Perdue said. “We just need to have a plan going forward and identify what areas need to be zoned which way. And it needs to come as much from the citizens as it does from the experts.”
Perdue also wants to make town information more accessible and understandable to citizens. He said there is a database now, but it is outdated. He would like to see more information on social media with advancing technology.
“We are in a different world with social media and advances in technology so we need to adapt with it and we need to improve,” Perdue said. “I’m not saying past boards and past city officials have failed in that, I’m just saying we need to take advantage of the technology we have and do the best we can as far as giving information out to our citizens.”
Morgan and Pappas could not be reached for this story.
Learn more about the candidates
Edwin Elam: www.edwinelamcampaign forwaxhawmayor.org
Ericka McKnight: http://erickalmcknight forwaxhaw.com/
Jon Perdue: www.facebook.com/Perdue 4Mayor/