Conover candidates compete for seats

Six candidates are competing for three seats on the Conover City Council this election.

Current Conover Mayor Pro-tem Kyle Hayman and current councilman Don Beal are the only incumbents running for re-election.

They are challenged by Bruce Eckard, a former Conover mayor and councilman; Kim Cline, a current Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education member; Jeff Byrd; and Lew Waddell.

Current councilwoman Penny Corpening will not seek re-election after withdrawing from the race in September.

Early voting continues at Newton Main Library and Highland Recreation Center in Hickory from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, and it concludes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

On Nov. 8, polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Kim Cline
What is your line of work?
I have been a family nurse practitioner for almost eight years. For the last four years, I have been a partner at Family Healthcare Practice. The practice was in Newton until November 2010, when we moved to downtown Conover.

Why are you running for office for the next term?
Since moving Family Healthcare Practice to Conover, I have realized a need to revitalize Conover. Now is the time to encourage and promote our current businesses and to invite and recruit new businesses to come to
Conover. This will increase the number of jobs available and at the same
time it increases the tax base. That will keep our taxes low. Now is the time to fill the empty buildings. This is not the time to raise taxes or user fees. Conover also has a need for social events for all ages. Whether it is a Fourth of July picnic, a fall festival, or a Christmas parade, the citizens in Conover deserve to have the opportunity to relax and socialize in their community. Conover needs to build a "hometown" atmosphere where people will build memories and return after school to live and raise future families. Now is also the time to work hard to make Conover safe, concentrating on getting drug abuse under control. The time to concentrate on these issues is now, and that is why I am running at this time.

Why should you win?
I should be elected to Conover City Council if the citizens of Conover agree with promoting businesses to come to Conover, not increasing taxes and user fees, promoting social events for all ages, and keeping Conover a safe place to live, work and raise a family. I will bring an honest work ethic with conservative beliefs to the table. I will always vote no to raising taxes.

I will listen to the citizens and work hard to promote ideas and changes
that will positively affect individuals in their daily lives.

Lew Waddell
What is your line of work?
I am a practicing lawyer and have been so in Catawba County since 1966. My office is located in Newton. I am involved in estate, real estate, domestic, criminal and general trial work in both the state and federal courts.

Why are you running for office for the next term?
I am running for this office at the request of many friends to serve the city of Conover. I have been advised that they believe as I do that every individual has a duty to serve and at the same time he has the duty in this country to be straight-up with the citizenry and proceed with decisions that are in the best interests of the community and the citizens without making decisions based on the concept of being re-elected. I firmly believe that Conover needs to be business friendly and by that I mean that Conover needs to take an aggressive position to allow businesses that employ a substantial amount of individuals to come into the community. It is not enough to say that Conover should remain the same as it has always been. Conover needs to grow. Conover needs to provide a substantial and progressive uptown area. Conover needs to have businesses that employ more than four or five people; we need to employ substantial groups. To do that, it is necessary to get out and push the city of Conover and become business-friendly. In the past, I have been acquainted with businesses that wanted to come to Conover and they were discouraged to do so. Businesses that were once thriving now sit vacant in downtown Conover. There is no excuse for that. A business should not have to file for a variance from an existing law; the law should not exist and we need to move forward.

I believe that I can contribute to the business growth. I believe that I do have the connections to bring folks into this area who want to do business in Conover and I believe that I can work with other members of city council to do this.

Why should you win?
If I should be given the privilege to serve the city, I will bring to the table independent, forthright and straightforward judgments. There will be no hypocrisy; there will be no decisions made because of a desire to keep serving on the board, but the decisions will be made on the basis of what is best for the citizens of Conover, the people who work for the city of Conover, and all involved. I strongly believe that we need to include our young people and provide them with a substantial and good education and we need to look after people in the same manner as St. Matthew said that the truest way to salvation was to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, clothing to the poor, and hope to the hopeless.

Don Beal
What is your line of work?
Owner of The Hair Connection in downtown Conover.
Why are you running for office in the next term?
I am running for Conover City Council because I want the responsibility and opportunity to continue to run our city government services efficiently, keeping our tax rate low, and focusing on positive ways to keep and create jobs.

I want to continue the rapport that I have built with local, regional and state governments to promote jobs, grants and other funding. I will continue to be a strong voice advocating for our citizens' needs by continuing my commitment to explore every opportunity to recruit jobs. I have walked door to door and I see the suffering, hurt, panic and the dire uncertainty our citizens face concerning their jobs or losing their homes. I will continue to be a voice of commitment for our citizens. I have passionately shown and proven my love of Conover and will faithfully continue to serve. That is why my name is on the ballot. 

Why should you win?
Owning a business downtown enables me to see, meet and listen to our citizens' concerns.  Additionally, I visit other businesses weekly to share ideas and let them know we value their presence. In each case, all are told I am available, in person, seven days a week. It is a responsibility that I take both seriously and enjoy. In today’s economy, cities cannot thrive in isolation, it requires cooperation and coordination. I have established contacts with every agency in our county and region that are vital to Conover’s needs. My commitment to you is to make an informed decision on every issue, which includes sensitivity to the needs of our citizens, and the ability of our city to govern. There is no greater task than to keep taxes low and services high. I will continue to promote our community as a wonderful city to create jobs, live, work and retire. It is not lost on me that the good folks, whom I meet, want a fair chance in life, and they want it right here in Conover. I will continue to work tirelessly to help make that a reality.

Kyle Hayman
What is your line of work?
I am district claims manager with North Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, since 1993.

Why are you running for this office for the next term?
I love Conover and I love serving.

I am not a politician but consider myself a public servant.

I inherited this passion for serving as I watched my grandfather, Olin Winters, proudly serve our city as a member of the Conover City Council. His enthusiasm to serve Conover was contagious to me as I also have that same enthusiasm. In serving the citizens of Conover over the past six years both as a Planning Board member as well as a city councilman, I have had the opportunity to gain experience in the areas of planning and economic development. Proper planning and having a vision for economic development is the key to successfully pulling out of the economic crisis that our region, state and nation continue to face. I want Conover to be the place where my children want to live when they become adults.

The knowledge I have gained in these areas has helped me make sound decisions to position Conover as a leader both in our region as well as the state. I do not have a self-serving agenda and have always proven myself as a councilman who is willing and able to work with all members of the city council. I am truly dedicated to Conover and have proven that I have the ability to lead our city into the future.

Why should you win?
I feel that I am the best candidate running for the Conover City Council. I have proven that I have the experience to be a leader on the city council.

On many occasions I have led teams to Raleigh and Washington, D.C., in an effort to obtain much needed grant money for the development of the Conover Station site.

No Conover tax dollars will be used in the construction. In total, our council and staff have obtained over $6.8 million in funding for the Conover Station development.

I led a team to work with General Electric to establish a written agreement to move forward on a plan to develop a portion of the General Electric site as a business park. This will help provide jobs for our future.

Our council has also given city staff the direction to obtain grants for much-needed repairs to our sewer system; police and fire department grants; and community revitalization grants.

These meetings successfully allowed Conover to be awarded over $9.8 million in grants for our city.

I have supported our staff to research and apply for various infrastructure grants that have led to obtaining over $1.8 million to be used for water and sewer repairs as well as nearly $800,000 in Community Development Block revitalization grants that have paved streets, rehabbed houses, and provided curb and gutter. I have also supported our staff’s efforts in obtaining over $400,000 to be used for police and fire equipment.

During the last four years, our council has maintained our 40-cent tax rate and not raised taxes; been awarded the highest bond rating available for a city our size; and increased Conover’s reserves by roughly 10 percent...all by being frugal with the taxpayers' money and during one of the worst economies our city has ever seen.

We have continued to work with new industries as well as existing industries that have expanded.

As a member of the city council I make sure that I am educated on all issues that face the council. I use the Christian principles that have been taught to me all my life to look for ways to resolve issues in an effort to move our city forward. We all have differences, but we must move past these differences in an effort to move forward. I provide proven leadership for Conover.

Bruce Eckard
What is your line of work?
Regional sales manager for Vendomatic Inc.

Why are you running for this office for the next term?
I have been privileged to serve the city of Conover as an elected official for 24 years. I would be honored to serve another term as councilman. In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to Conover.

Public service must be more than just a job, it must be a complete dedication to the citizens and the city. One of the best lessons I learned many years ago is that everything is not about you. It is about serving the better good. I have always "put Conover first." Council members should ask themselves every day, "what can I do to "put Conover first?" I pledge that putting Conover first will be at the top
of my priorities.

Why should you win?
As I stated earlier, my main objective is to put Conover first. I will work with the mayor and council to bring a unified voice back to the city. Together we can return Conover to a position of leadership in Catawba County and across the state. I will work with the council to ensure we provide effective and efficient local government services to
our citizens. I will be conservative with the taxpayers' dollars and receptive to the citizens' needs and respond accordingly. I have the experience and leadership capabilities to be a finder of common ground and a catalyst for cooperation.

We need someone who can bring the players together and move forward on
common goals. I believe I am that person.