Newton candidates bring new ideas

For the first time in eight years, Newton will have a new mayor in November.

Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax is not seeking re-election this fall, and both candidates vying for the position bring new ideas to the table.

Anne Stedman, Newton’s current mayor pro-tem and owner of the Trot House Inn, wants to reinvent downtown. Wes Weaver, Newton Merchants Association president and business entrepreneur, wants progress in Newton and hopes to bring more businesses into the area.

Both candidates say job growth is essential to the city’s future.

Stedman has served on Newton’s council for eight years and was born and raised in the city.

“It’s always been a passion to have downtown as the center of all activities,” Stedman said, adding that she worked as a newspaper deliverer downtown when she was 13 years old. “I do have experience on the council, and I do feel like that matters.”

Stedman said a new outlook is essential to revitalize downtown.

“We are going to have to reinvent ourselves,” Stedman said. “I think diversification is really going to be the key. Naturally, we want to have big companies come in, but I think small business is going to be important as well.”

Weaver, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, said he wants to bring business and industry back to Newton for the many skilled workers that occupy the area.

“I’m willing to get in there and get my hands dirty,” Weaver said. “It doesn’t seem like Newton is making a lot of progress. I want to get in there and find out what’s going to start Newton rolling in a right direction.”

As the president of the Newton Merchants Association, Weaver said he works with business owners to bring residents from throughout Catawba County to Newton’s downtown – something he said he will continue if he is elected.

“We need to find out why we aren’t getting these businesses,” Weaver said of current economic developments in other area municipalities.

“Newton is not a friendly place to start a business. I want to find out why and change that atmosphere.”

Early voting starts Thursday at the Newton Main Library.