Five Seeking Two Seats on Pinehurst Council
Five candidates are squaring off for two seats on the Pinehurst Village Council in what should be a competitive race.
Incumbent Mayor Pro Tem Lorraine Tweed, who was first elected in 2001, decided against running for a third term in the Nov. 3 election. Incumbent Jeff Dawson, who was appointed to the council in 2007 after former Councilman Doug Lapins -- a challenger in this race -- resigned, is hoping to keep his seat.
The candidates offer contrasting styles and backgrounds, and they all think they can bring a unique perspective to the council.
With two seats up for grabs, the election could change the makeup of the council, which has largely been unanimous on most major issues, including in support of the village's pending $5.5 million purchase of water and wastewater treatment plants in Wagram -- perhaps the most hotly debated issue of the campaign.
Below is a look at the candidates. They are listed in alphabetical order.
Barry, 35, is a newcomer to municipal politics but has been involved in the community since moving to the village with his wife in 2003. They just celebrated the birth of their first child a few weeks ago.
Originally from Raleigh, Barry is the branch manager and financial services manager at First Citizens Bank in Pinehurst. He has served as president of the Pinehurst Business Guild for the past two years and is a member of the Pinehurst Village Green Commission and a number of other organizations.
While no one particular issue drove him into the race, Barry thinks he can bring a new perspective to the council and would like to be a part of the village's political process.
"I think the one thing that I'm trying to add or to be a little bit different from the normal council you see is that I'm just a different demographic, probably one that we haven't had," he says. "With the growing age group or demographic of folks that are in my age group -- that are working, have children and want to live and stay in Pinehurst -- we need some representation on the Village Council."
Barry thinks the Village Green could "definitely" be improved to make it more friendly for residents to use. He envisions a community park concept with a lawn such as several landscape architects have proposed.
Barry advocates a more business-friendly village, especially in the downtown core area. He added that store owners should consider extending their operating hours to make doing business easier.
Barry says he is still undecided on the looming issue of the Wagram water plants. He attended the village's information session Oct. 1, and says he believes it is important to study water supply opportunities for the future to assure an abundance. He is unsure if Wagram is the answer but has heard compelling arguments on both sides of the issue.
As far as improving relations with the Moore County Board of Commissioners, Barry says the village should continue to be persistent in reaching out to the county and try to get all of the important players at the table.
Dawson, 41, is the only incumbent running. A native of New Jersey, he has lived in Pinehurst since 1994 and is married with two children. He has worked in the financial sector since moving to the village.
Running for office himself is a new experience for Dawson, who spent much of his early adult life working on political campaigns and in the White House for President George H.W. Bush. He said he never expected to be on the "other side" of the microphone.
Dawson says he had no ambitions to serve beyond his two-year appointment and initially opted out of running, but changed his mind at the last minute because of one issue -- water. He has been one of the driving forces behind the pending Wagram purchase, calling it an opportunity the village couldn't pass up.
"I just felt like it was a topic that was important enough and interesting enough that I wanted to stay involved," he says. "I thought this Wagram position was the first chance to change the game completely in this region when it comes to solving or changing the issue. Does it solve the issue? Some would argue it doesn't. But it certainly changes the conversation, and Pinehurst for years has wanted to own a seat at the table."
Dawson believes that the village has an obligation to protect the interests of its residents, and that purchasing the Wagram plants helps fulfill that obligation.
Another major issue for Dawson is what he calls the village's "institutionalization of the word 'no.'" He says he wants to make the village more user-friendly for everyone and has pushed for a roundtable discussion with builders and business owners to hear their frustrations. He favors streamlining the village's regulations and committees to make life easier for everyone.
Dawson also advocates spending more of the budget on revitalizing the village core, which he calls the village's greatest asset, and doing more to satisfy the needs of younger residents moving to the area. He favors "very moderate and quiet alterations" to the Village Green, such as cleaning up the paths and adding native plant species. He says those improvements need to be made in conjunction with fixing the sand parking lot.
Nancy Roy Fiorillo
Fiorillo is a veteran of state and local government, but this would be her first time on the electoral, policymaking side.
She has lived in Pinehurst for 12 years and retired in 2006 after a 21-year career in state and local government. She is a former planning and inspections director in Moore and Cumberland counties. She currently chairs the Moore County Planning Board and serves on the Pinehurst Civic Group's Board of Directors.
"I believe that this next council is going to make some very important, very far-reaching decisions," she says. "I think we're going to need a lot of talent on board. I think we're going to need people who understand the issues, who know how to work with a lot of different people and are good at bringing everybody in to understand the issues and make some decisions. And I think I fit into that category."
She thinks good planning is the key ingredient to keeping Pinehurst charming and vibrant. She says the village needs to continue down the good planning road it has been on, namely the resources and attention it has given to its 2003 Comprehensive Long-Range Plan.
Fiorillo favors the Wagram purchase for two reasons -- the village has the need for more water, and the plants are located in the same river basin as the village and Southern Moore County. The plants' location in the Lumber River basin eliminates some of the complicated interbasin transfer rules that come with other sources. She believes that putting together a basinwide alliance is important. She hopes to restore a good working relationship with the county.
Fiorillo considers the demographic changes in the village to be another issue that deserves the council's attention.
In terms of cumbersome planning and zoning regulations, Fiorillo says those rules were authorized not by the planning staff, but by previous councils. If changes need to be made, she says the council needs to make them.
Fiorillo does not see a need to alter the Village Green dramatically, other than cleaning up the sand parking lot. She says she favors fixing the paths and possibly adding benches, but says it is "lovely" the way it is.
This isn't the first go-around for Lapins, who is a six-year veteran of village politics.
Lapins moved to Pinehurst in 1997 after a career in business. He was a member of the village's original Comprehensive Long-Range Steering Committee. He served on the council from 2001 to 2007 and ran for mayor that year. About a month before the election, though, his wife became ill and he dropped out of the race and resigned from the council.
Now, he says he is ready to provide the council with that business-minded approach again, which he believes the current council lacks. He said that's a difference from the councils he served on in the past.
"That's what really struck me on this Wagram thing," he says. "Do they really understand what they're leading themselves into?"
Lapins opposes the purchase, adding that he isn't sure how Wagram jumped to the forefront when the McGill water study listed several other "doable" projects ahead of it. He also pointed to the proposal's complexity and doesn't think the village went through enough of a process to determine if the deal made sense before moving ahead. He thinks the council approached the deal backwards by making a bid for the asset before putting a consortium together.
As far as what to do to revitalize the village center, Lapins says Pinehurst can't be the only municipality to go through that problem. He recommends looking at towns that have overcome the problem and put some of those ideas to use here.
Lapins isn't a fan of the proposal to overhaul the Village Green, outside of some simple maintenance to the paths and possibly the addition of benches, but he doesn't consider it an issue he would "fall on his sword over." He believes that a holistic planning process -- including traffic and parking, the Village Chapel and Given Memorial Library -- should be factored into any Village Green proposal.
Lapins is also concerned about an increase in village costs and how the village runs its budget. He's unhappy that funding for the village greenway project was suspended in this year's budget.
McCrann is unique among the other candidates because he says he won't even vote for himself.
He moved to the area in 1975 and has practiced law in Moore County ever since. A resident of Village Green East since 1985, he became concerned about the proposals to change the Village Green across the street from his house. As a member of the initial Village Green Commission, he disagreed with its recommendation to pursue changes to the property and wrote a dissenting opinion to its report.
He was not asked to be on the second Village Green Commission tasked with advising the council on what enhancements would be desirable, so he decided to run for a council seat to have a forum to raise the issue.
"You wouldn't believe the people I talk to in Pinehurst who have no idea what is going to happen [to the Green]," he says. "There are only 97 people who went to the [public information session], and there's only 280 people who answered the survey -- 55 percent of them said, 'Don't do anything; just put in some paths.' That all just gets swept under the rug."
McCrann favors taking care of the Green's paths and adding benches and garbage containers.
He admits that the Wagram purchase has overridden the Green and other campaign issues. Like Lapins, he opposes the idea and thinks it was pursued in the wrong way. He said if he were involved in the process, he would have first advertised the village's interest in the plants and then would have talked to other interested parties to obtain a firm commitment before buying them.
He considers traffic and the village's economic future to be other important issues.
But McCrann does not covet the office and says being elected would in fact be burdensome. He does not expect to be elected and would serve only one term if he was.
McCrann says he has no regrets about filing. He says people are talking about the Green, and he considers that to be a success.
Contact John Krahnert III at (910) 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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