Corpening pulls out of Conover race

Penny Corpening will not accept a seat on Conover City Council if voters re-elect her in November.

Citing concerns about conflicts of interest that could affect city and family business, Corpening notified the Catawba County Board of Elections on Friday that she has withdrawn from the race.

Corpening's family owns Conover Hardware. Her father, Bobby Matthews, owns Matthews Construction. During council meetings, Corpening has abstained from votes and conversations about specific development projects because the family construction business has been involved with bids for projects involving federal funds managed by the city.

"I purposefully step out so I'll be ignorant because I don't want to jeopardize anything," she said Friday. "It's not just about money, it's about jobs."

Corpening, a Conover native, said she does not want to jeopardize economic development projects for the city, and she does not want to affect the possibilities for local job creation through work done by Matthews Construction.

"I can still help bring businesses to Conover moving forward," she said. "I can show that Conover is a great place to come and work and live. My goal is to see Conover grow, not for personal gain but for the community."

Conover's filing period began July 1 and ended July 15. Corpening will still be on the November ballot because those printed ballots are already on their way to Catawba County, said Elections Director Larry Brewer.

"She doesn't have to accept a seat," Brewer said. "What she tells me is that she's going to try to get folks who would vote for her to vote for someone else."

Three seats open on Conover City Council in November. If Corpening wins a seat in the election, Brewer said, the city council will declare that seat vacant and appoint someone to serve until the next city election. He said the seat will not necessarily be awarded to the next highest vote-getter.

Brewer said Corpening put her name on the ballot the first day of the filing period, later withdrew her name from the race and then wrote a letter to put her name back on the ballot. Brewer and Corpening said people have questioned that filing and withdrawal process.

"It all happened during the filing period," Brewer said. "If you withdraw during the filing period, the filing fee is paid back to you. You pay that same money if you re-file."

Brewer said Corpening's filing flip-flop is something he hasn't seen with a candidate in his 14 years with the Catawba County Board of Elections.

Corpening said she stepped out of her comfort zone four years ago when she decided to run for public office for the first time.

"The four years I've spent have been a learning experience for me," she said. "The council and city have made great strides in those years. Forward-thinking people have made it happen."

Incumbents Don Beal and Kyle Hayman have filed for re-election to Conover City Council. They are joined on the ballot by Bruce Eckard, Jeff Byrd, Lewis Waddell and Kim Cline.

Two file in Claremont

Dale Setzer Jr. and Rick Fulbright filed this week to run for Claremont City Council.

Filing for the city board re-opened this week following the recent death of council member PJ Stanley.

Stanley, who had filed for re-election, died suddenly from complications of leukemia. He had served on the city board since 1987.

Nicky Setzer and Dale Sherrill are also in the race for three open seats on Claremont's board.