Merchants host candidate social

Conover residents have a chance to meet municipal candidates before heading to the polls this election season.

The Conover Downtown Merchants Association hosts a candidate meet and greet for residents on Monday from 5-7 p.m. on Main Street.

Candidates running for Conover City Council and the Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education will be present. Each candidate will set up a table on sidewalks along Main Street.

Candidates running for Conover City Council point to growth — both in jobs and services — as a key to the city's prosperity in the future.

“I know a number of candidates have responded and are planning on coming,” said Barbara Nunziata, Conover Downtown Merchants Association member and office manager of Conover Printing Inc. “A number of the candidates have expressed interest.”

Six candidates are competing for three open seats on city council. Most candidates say the economy's impact on businesses and residents is the biggest issue facing the city and its board in the next four years.

After councilwoman Penny Corpening withdrew from the council race last month, Kyle Hayman and Don Beal are the only two incumbents running for re-election.

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 are also on the ballot.

Candidates running for the Newton-Conover City Schools board will also attend Monday's social, Nunziata said.

Four candidates are vying for three seats on the school board. Jim Stockner faces no opposition for the open Newton seat, while current board member Mark Murphy and Chairman Scott Loudermelt face challenger Jeanne Jarrett in the race for two open Conover seats.

Early voting is under way at the Newton Main Library. Nunziata said the meet and greet allows residents a final chance to meet candidates before going to the polls.

“It will be a good outlet for the candidates and this way people will have a little bit of time to learn about the candidates before voting,” Nunziata said. “The local elections are more important than the bigger ones in some regards. You want someone in the council or on the school board that’s going to get in there and stand up for the citizens.”

Downtown Merchants member Cornelia Allman said the group did a similar meet and greet four years ago.