Rockingham candidates plan to keep improving downtown area


Compiled by Gavin Stone - gstone@yourdailyjournal.com



Sullivan


Morris


Willard


Edwards


As the Nov. 7 municipal election draws nearer, the Daily Journal asked the Rockingham City Council members who are up for re-election to answer some questions about their tenure and what they hope to do for the city going into their next term — which all of them are assured to have because none of their seats have been challenged.

While the mayor is guaranteed his seat for the next four years, there are only two four-year city council seats for the three who are up for re-election. The one with the fewest votes will only be half as comfortable in his or her seats, coming up for re-election in two years instead of four.

Early voting for city elections began on Oct. 19 and will continue until Nov. 4. Voting hours at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension office, 123 Caroline Street, are from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. until Friday, Nov. 3 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.

The answers were provided in emails, with the exception of Gene Willard’s, who gave his in person. The answers have been edited for clarity.

STEVE MORRIS

Office running for: Mayor

How long have you lived in Rockingham?

50 years

What community organizations are you a part of and what other positions do you hold?

First Baptist Church, Richmond County Tourism Authority, Rockingham Rotary Club

What is a trend or development that you’ve seen in Rockingham that you would like to see continue? Trend or development you would like to change?

Investment by local, small businesses and also investments by several larger national chain organizations. Would also welcome higher-paying jobs with full-time benefits.

What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor/a city council member?

Being a small part of helping Discovery Place Kids locate a branch museum in downtown Rockingham.

What is something that you want to accomplish in your next term, either personally or for the city?

We plan to complete the Richmond Community College Business and Information Technology campus in downtown Rockingham.

How do you feel about running unopposed?

I feel like the majority of the citizens of Rockingham are pleased with the things the present council has accomplished and have confidence that we will provide good leadership and stewardship of the city’s funds. We have a great, cooperative team of progressive leaders now serving and I think that is well understood by the voters.

DENISE SULLIVAN

Office running for: Four-year city council seat

How long have you lived in Rockingham?

I have lived in Rockingham for all but three years of my life. During that time, my husband was attending law school and I was teaching in Harnett County Schools.

What community organizations are you a part of and what other positions do you hold?

I do not not belong to any civic organizations. I represent the city at the Lumber River Council of Governments and serve on the executive council. I am a member of Rockingham First United Methodist Church. I participate in the United Methodist Women’s group and serve as a Stephen’s Minister. I have been a teacher in Richmond County for 36 years and a total 39 years with North Carolina.

What is a trend or development that you’ve seen in Rockingham that you would like to see continue? Trend or development you would like to change?

I hope to see continuation in the revitalization of downtown Rockingham. Seeing new businesses come into the area is exciting and I hope that with the plans for Richmond Community College to expand downtown, we will see even more.

One thing that I would like to see change is citizens’ attitudes that there is nothing here to do, or just having negative opinions about Rockingham. Events are planned and people put forth much effort to bring activities to the downtown area and then citizens fail to support. Things can only get better when we all work together, support local businesses, and are proud to live in Rockingham.

What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor/a city council member?

Bringing the Hitchcock Building to downtown Rockingham and putting Pattan’s restaurant there is a great example of the city working to improve our downtown area. Our council works hard to make decisions that will be best for the citizens of Rockingham. The Hitchcock Building is beautiful and has become a hub of activity for downtown. Seeing families and children at Hitchcock Creek is always exciting. I love seeing all the cars in the parking lots, people cooking out under the canopies, and children playing on the equipment. It is such a happy place. Rockingham is continuing to improve and no tax increase has come to citizens in order for these improvements to take place. Rockingham has good management and empolyees who work hard to make things happen and not at the expense of its citizens.

What is something that you want to accomplish in your next term, either personally or for the city?

Serving the people of Rockingham is an accomplishment. I want to be a positive force for change.

How do you feel about running unopposed?

Hopefully, being unopposed means that the citizens are happy with me. I am proud to serve the citizens and looking forward to another two- or four-year term.

GENE WILLARD

Office running for: Four-year city council seat

How long have you lived in Rockingham?

All my life.

What community organizations are you a part of and what other positions do you hold?

Currently a delegate to the Lumber River Council of Governments and a deacon at Beverly Hills Baptist Church. Former member of United Way Board, Sandhills Area Mental Health Board and Community Based Alternatives Board.

What is a trend or development that you’ve seen in Rockingham that you would like to see continue? Trend or development you would like to change?

I’d like to see the downtown area continue to improve.

What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor/a city council member?

The development of Discovery Place Kids, additions to the Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail and paddleway, and additions to Hinson Lake. Also being a part of making sure that there has been no tax rate increase for the last 14 years.

What is something that you want to accomplish in your next term, either personally or for the city?

I hope, at some point, to be able to continue with the development of the 140-acre recreational complex on Old Aberdeen road.

How do you feel about running unopposed?

I have never run unopposed, so it’s a good feeling to not have to have opposition — for one time, anyway.

ANNE EDWARDS

Office running for: Four-year city council seat

How long have you lived in Rockingham?

We moved to the city limits in the late 1970s. I have always lived in Richmond County, with the exception of the time I spent at Wingate University.

What community organizations are you a part of and what other positions do you hold?

I am very active in the Rockingham Rotary Club. I have served as a board member and vice president, in charge of the BBQ and Auction, and then as president. While working 24 years at Pee Dee Electric, I served as marketing representative, which involved me in the Washington Youth Tour and the Touchstone Energy Bright Ideas program for educators in our service area. During my employment at Pee Dee Electric, I received the CCC, which is the Certified Cooperative Communicator certificate. I also volunteered for Richmond County Farm-City Week for eight years and still help when needed. I am also an ambassador for the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce.

What is a trend or development that you’ve seen in Rockingham that you would like to see continue? Trend or development you would like to change?

The exciting trend going on right now is the growth and development of the downtown area of Rockingham. I am very pleased to see the comradery with the Richmond County government and the city council members. It takes everyone working together to have the growth and leadership that we need to continue to improve our city.

As far as changes, I would like to see the community continue to take a pride in the City and leave the negative behind and look forward to all the exciting things that are positive for all of us.

What is your proudest accomplishment as mayor/a city council member?

In the short time I have been on the city council, I would have to say the acceptance of a satellite college in the downtown area would be the biggest and best project that has happened. However, all the new businesses that have opened is also a wonderful improvement. Personally, for me, working in harmony with the other council members is so important and we have been very successful at doing that.

What is something that you want to accomplish in your next term, either personally or for the city?

I would like to continue to serve as a long-term council member. I feel that the longer you serve, the more you get involved with the decisions and the more you learn, the better you can improve the lives of the citizens of Rockingham. I realize that you will never make everyone happy, but you can always do your best to do what you feel is right for the majority of citizens.

How do you feel about running unopposed?

I feel that either everyone is satisfied or at least the majority is not dissatisfied. It could be that no one felt strong enough about any subjects to run for office.

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.

Sullivan
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_denisesullivan.jpgSullivan

Morris
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_stevemorrismug.jpgMorris

Willard
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_genewillard.jpgWillard

Edwards
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/web1_anneedwards.jpgEdwards

Compiled by Gavin Stone

gstone@yourdailyjournal.com

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