Mitchell takes more than 70 percent of primary vote

Mount Holly candidates discuss hot-topic issues

by Tori Hamby

District 2 Charlotte City Councilman James “Smuggie” Mitchell swept the Sept. 13 primary election, leaving him to run unopposed in November.
The six-term Democrat took 71.31 percent of the vote, with his ex-wife, Vivian, coming in second with 12.97 percent. Gregg Greer followed with 9.88 percent and Cameron Gardner trailed the pack with 5.84 percent.
Unless a write-in candidate manages to garner enough votes to topple Mitchell in November, he will retain his council seat for another term. Charlotte city council members serve two-year terms.
The September primaries also narrowed down the field to nine candidates for four at-large city council seats. Five democrats battled it out to continue to the November election, where they will face four Republicans and one libertarian.
Jarrisha Rorie received the least number of votes, knocking her out of the at-large race. Democrat incumbent Patrick Cannon took the most votes and incumbent David Howard took second. Claire Fallon and Beth Pickering also will run for the seat in November.
The candidates for the 2011 Charlotte City Council are:
• Incumbent David Howard – Democrat
• Incumbent Patrick Cannon – Democrat
• Claire Fallon – Democrat
• Beth Pickering – Democrat
• Alexander Vuchnich – Libertarian
• Incumbent Edwin Peacock – Republican
• Christopher Hailey – Republican
• Mohamed Moustafa – Republican
• Curtis Watkins – Republican
On the other side of Mountain Island Lake, six candidates will vie for three vacant seats on the Mount Holly City Council in November. Current mayor Bryan Hough is running uncontested.
The candidates for Mount Holly City Council are:

Carolyn Holbrook Breyare
Education: Mount Holly High School
Work experience: Retired maintenance worker with U.S. Airways.
Political experience: Has served one term on the Mount Holly City Council. She has served on the City of Mount Holly beautification committee both before and after being elected to her first term. On the city council she serves as the facilities chairman.
Other community experience: 7-year Girl Scout/Brownie troop leader, 2-year youth leader at Tuckaseegee Baptist Church in Mount Holly, organized the Catawba Heights Community Watch program with the help of the Mount Holly Police Department and three-year member of the Stowe YMCA board of directors.
Biggest issue facing Mount Holly: Improving wastewater treatment. “We are currently at maximum capacity,” Breyare said. “We’ve been looking at different ways to go about improving the current plant for awhile and have been seeking alternatives.”
How she can help: “I will look at all the options and see what’s best for us as a city,” Breyare said. “I’d like to keep anything we do in-house, that way we can make the decisions ourselves instead of someone else.”

J. Jason Gowen
Education: B.S. in business administration and management from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has also worked as an economic principals and investment theory instructor at a corporate firm.
Work experience: Has worked in the finance industry for the last 11 years, in banking and financial advisory. He currently works as stockbroker.
Political experience: First run for office.
Biggest issue facing Mount Hjolly: “I think it can be split into two issues that are related to each other,” Gowen said. “One is dealing with wastewater and decisions that the city has been looking at for several years. And two, is how that relates to expanding growth and industry. It’s important to have those places where residents can go and enjoy downtown.”
How he can help: “I’ve spent time at the wastewater facility researching possible solutions,” Gowen said. “I have some very specific plans on how to deal with the situation and minimize the impact on the average citizen’s payment. I’ve also spoken with successful community business leaders to find out what makes Mount Holly attractive and build upon that.”
Contact information: or visit his Facebook page Elect Jason Gowen.

Phyllis Brooks Harris
Education: Mount Holly High School.
Work Experience: Works as a catering supervisor at Time Warner Cable Arena for Levy Restaurants.
Political Experience: She has served on the Mount Holly City Council for four terms and served as mayor pro tem twice. She finished her last year on the council in 2007.
Biggest issue facing Mount Holly: “I think it has to be the sewer situation,” Harris said. “It’s one of those things that keeps coming up at meetings and is talked about constantly and I think its going to be a huge issue in the near future.”
How she can help: “By doing research and trying to figure out what is the best thing we can do for Mount Holly,” she said. “We shouldn’t be concerned about how the solution is going to benefit any other place, but Mount Holly.”
Contact information: call 704-827-8582 or email

Ben C. Taylor III
Education: B.S. in chemistry, biology and mathematics from Duke University in 1965.
Work experience: The 65-year Mount Holly resident is a retired industrial engineer and information services manager with the United Parcel Service. He also owns the Ben C. Taylor Experimental Nursery, a nonprofit organization he created in 1996 to field test pesticides and fungicides and is a former president of the Master Gardner Group of Gaston County.
Political experience: Ran unsuccessfully for city council eight years ago.
Biggest issues facing Mount Holly: Taylor said he believes aging infrastructure will cause the city many problems in the years ahead if systems are not replaced. “Roadways, water systems and sewage systems are considerably out of date and if we don’t go ahead and spend the money to update them, we are going to be in serious trouble in the next few years.”
He added that the city should work harder to attract large businesses and renew beautification efforts. “Let’s face it, we are the second largest city in Gaston County and we only have one grocery store. The current council has made plenty of strides downtown, but they have done it haphazardly.”
Taylor said that he wants residents to be able to pay tax and water bills online and all stormwater utility fees residents pay to go toward helping the city make improvements to the stormwater management system online. He also said he wants the council to create a policy that requires all future town management employees to live inside the city limits.
How he can help: “My experience as an industrial engineer allows me to look around and see all the waste that is going on. We are looking for ways to improve the efficiency of an operation all the time, and I can help improve the way the city is run.”
Contact information:

Perry Toomey
Education: Completed some coursework at Central Piedmont Community College in the electrical technology program.
Political Experience: Served one term on the Mount Holly City Council. During his tenure he has served on four different committees relating to the council.
Work experience: Retired as manager of the power delivery construction department of Duke Power Company, where he worked for 40 years.
Biggest issue facing Mount Holly: Expanding the wastewater treatment facility and increasing economic development. “There is work that we’ve got to do on it to enlarge (the wastewater treatment facility,)” Toomey said.
How he can help: “I’ve served on the utility committees, which looks at all of the utilities within the city, including wastewater treatment; the construction committee, which oversees all new construction throughout the city; the Gaston County Metro Planning Organization’s transportation advisory committee for the city of Mount Holly; and the economic development committee. I plan to continue serving in these ways if elected.”
Contact information: Email or call 704-827-0505.

Teresa Conner did not respond to multiple attempts for comment by press time.

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