Four candidates vying for city council vacancy

Four candidates vying for city council vacancy

LENOIR- Four candidates presented their case as to why they should be appointed as Councilman Ben Willis’s replacement during the Jan.18 Lenoir City Council meeting. 

On Jan. 4, Mayor Joe Gibbons announced that Willis would be resigning, after accepting a position with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments as the director for Community and Economic Development.

The council is set to vote on an appointment to serve the two year remainder of Willis's term on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Kent Greer, who noted he was born and raised in Caldwell County, said, “My desire here is to make the city better, to serve, and most of all to listen.”

“If I’m elected to the board you’ll understand I’m not one to speak first, I’m one to listen first,” Greer said. “I don’t have any agenda at all, no hidden agenda, I come with an open mind. I just want to see the city grow, to be a servant to the citizens, and the City of Lenoir, and see what we can do to keep the city growing.”

Greer currently serves on the City of Lenoir Planning Board as well as the Caldwell County Planning Board.

Michael Careccia, who was runner up in the 2020 election for city council, took to the podium next, saying, “I’m ready to serve.”

“My experience growing up in poverty, watching my family and neighbors struggling to make ends meet, drives my passion for public service,” he said. 

Careccia detailed that he had previously served his community through volunteering for food drives, other community-led events, and with the local volunteer fire departments. 

“I want to take that experience, and that passion, and serve my community and work with council members and other stakeholders here in Lenoir…to help lift the people up here in Lenoir.

Careccia said he was encouraged by many members of the community, whom he met during his campaign, to apply for the vacancy. “...a lot of great folks who put a lot into this community and who deserve a lot from this council.”

“Local governments have the most immediate impact on our lives from housing, to jobs, to small businesses and I want to be a part of continuing to build a Lenoir where people would want to raise a family,” he said.

Justin Butler, a Los Angeles native, said he moved to Caldwell County with his wife and daughter in 2013, after accepting the position as the director of the Associate’s in Fine Arts Music Program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.

Butler is currently a doctoral student at Appalachian State University, and has served on several boards throughout his career. 

 “I have worked pro-bono for the City of Lenoir as a consultant…to help diversify and create more inclusion in the summer concert series,” he said. “I have served as the mentor and career advisor for hundreds and hundreds of students and youth in Caldwell County.”

Butler said he also gives free scholarships to students within Caldwell County schools for free music lessons, “I just do that in my own personal time, I feel that’s an important aspect of development in our youth.”

“Being at the community college, we’re tightly bound with the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County and I have the opportunity to learn about the challenges that the city and the county face,” he continued, “in particular, the housing, economic impacts, career and college training…the economic vitality of the city is really important to me.”

“We chose to move here, and raise a family here, and we want to see it prosper.”

The final speaker, Trish Cordero, said, “I’m actually new to Lenoir, I moved here in 2018, but in the time that I have been here I’ve joined multiple boards, including for the Head Start policy council. “From here on out, I would like to be able to bring my knowledge from Miami, being a bigger city, and try to see how we can make Lenoir grow bigger than what it is.”

“We love it here, as opposed to Miami with the cost of living,” she said.

“I’ve been to several of the transportation meetings, where I would like to also try to establish a bus route here in Lenoir.” 

“I feel that there should be a younger step up to the plate and start to take over so that we can offer different perspectives and aspects that may or may not have been introduced in the past before.”

She finished by saying, “I hope that the person who is elected can encompass every level of the citizens of Lenoir, not just focus on certain areas.” 

Grant Medlock, who ran for the council in 2020 alongside Careccia, filed paperwork for consideration. Medlock was not present at the Jan. 18 meeting, disqualifying him for consideration. 

Mayor Gibbons concluded the meeting saying, “the council will take all of this information in, we’ll deliberate on it,” he continued, “we cannot meet together... I will be individually talking with all of the council members for their feelings on everything…we can’t meet even in closed session on it.” 

“It all has to be out in the open and it will be,” he said. “After we have our discussions and come to what we feel is the consensus, we will then have a vote at our next meeting.” 

Gibbons said the council wanted the new candidate to be seated by Feb.1 to ensure proper preparation for the budget session, which begins on Feb. 11.

Back to blog

Leave a comment