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Cabarrus Magazine

Episode 36 of 'Up Front' Is First in Two-Part Series of Interviews with Newly Elected Local Representatives

Nov 22, 2019 11:24AM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 36: Meet Your New Representatives (Pt. 1)

Huddle: (00:00)
The ballots have been cast and it's time to meet your newly elected representatives. Welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. I'm your host, Jason Huddle

Huddle: (00:28)
Good day and welcome to another edition of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. This episode marks part one of a two part series on meeting our newly elected representatives. We cast our ballots at the beginning of November and now we have four newly elected representatives within the County of Cabarrus. We have two in Harrisburg, one in Concord and one in Kannapolis. We have a new city Councilman in Concord by the name of Andy Langford. Darrell Jackson, who had previously sat on the Kannapolis City Council and then came off of it, has been reelected but he is new again. So we are going to be talking to both of those gentlemen on next week's episode. This week, we are talking to Ian Patrick and Rodney Dellinger. They are the newly elected Town Councilman for the Town of Harrisburg, unseating two incumbents. We're going to talk to them about how they were able to do that and what their visions are for the future of Harrisburg. I hope you're looking forward to all that, but before we talk to these gentlemen, let's have some shameless plug time, shall we?

Huddle: (01:32)
If you're listening to this program, chances are you're familiar with Cabarrus Magazine, our printed publication that comes out every month. What you may or may not know is that we are completely advertiser-supported. Uh, we count on businesses around the area and those advertisers enable us to continue to do what we do. I say all that to tell you that we are getting ready to release our 2020 rates for both the printed magazine and our website. And I wanted to let you know that if you have a business and you think you might want to advertise with Cabarrus magazine, either on our website or in the magazine or both, if you sign up before the 2020 rates go into effect. So if you like what you hear on this program and you like what you read the magazine and you have a business that needs to create awareness within the Cabarrus region, why don't you talk to us? Give us a call, (704) 782-2353 and let's chat about how you can become part of maybe this program or part of Cabarrus Magazine. We would love to hear from you and possibly partner with you and that is today's shameless plug time.

Huddle: (02:36)
When we return, we'll be talking to town Councilman-elect, Ian Patrick from the Town of Harrisburg. Stay tuned.

Huddle: (04:26)
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. We're talking with our newly elected representatives this week as part of our two-part episode and I have with me, Harrisburg Town Councilman-elect, Ian Patrick. First of all, Ian, thanks for coming on the program today.

Patrick: (04:45)
Thank you Jason.

Huddle: (04:46)
So first of all, let me ask you just to tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what made you want to run for Harrisburg town council.

Patrick: (04:56)
Sure. Um, I'm an architect by training and one of the things I do is a lot of volunteer work around local communities for uh, helping communities, uh, improve their economies. Also help them design their buildings and communities. And the reason I wanted to run was because I could do the most good I think in that position. I mean I serve on boards. Um, currently I've served on many boards in the past, but I think as a local representative I can use my skills as a planner, as an architect to do the best, the most good I can.

Huddle: (05:30)
So this race, it got a little bit contentious.

Patrick: (05:34)
It was interesting,

Huddle: (05:35)
How do you deal with that? I mean, you usually see that on a, on a more of a state wide or federal election kind of scale, you see a lot of mudslinging. But this one, this one got nasty on a very local level. How do you deal with that?

Patrick: (05:52)
Quite honestly, I just stayed out of it out of it. So you know, there was a lot of stuff going around on Facebook and pointing fingers and things like that and we just ran our campaign and just kept pushing that, you know, I have experience and I have qualifications and I don't want to be part of the mudslinging or any of that. So we just completely stayed out of it. And I had other candidates call me and say, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? And we had candid conversations, but I had no interest in getting down in the weeds with that nonsense, which is what I think it is.

Huddle: (06:23)
This election was not short of candidates.

Patrick: (06:27)
No.

Huddle: (06:27)
And in fact two incumbents lost their seats. Why do you think you were elected?

Patrick: (06:36)
I'm not 100% sure. Some of the people I've talked to say that it was sort of a referendum on some of the residential developments that have been approved by past council. And if you look at who voted generally against them, it was Rick and Ron, and they kept their seats. And the people who generally voted for them that were running the two incumbents, Bonita and uh, Christopher, they lost their seats. And of course Rodney was a huge, you know, his slogan was residents over developers and he got quite a few votes and I don't know if I got sort of lumped in with that group or the electorate said, well, he's an architect and at least maybe he can look at it in a different way. And I think maybe that was partially a referendum on the, on the building.

Huddle: (07:18)
Harrisburg historically has fought, for lack of a better term, growth for many years. It almost seems to be happening whether they want it or not. But I guess my question is what do you feel can be done at this point? Because Harrisburg is growing, the people are there, the infrastructure is not. 49 is a nightmare. What do you hope to accomplish in that area over this term?

Patrick: (07:47)
Well, growth is not bad, per se. I mean, one of the organizations that I'm on the board of is CPNI, which is a nonprofit organization that goes around to small towns in North Carolina that are struggling economically. I mean really struggling, lost manufacturing plants for, you know, when jobs are shipped overseas and things like that. And then the residents, businesses start closing as a result and then they start moving to urban centers. So I can see the opposite, which is where they have zero growth and they would kill for some of some of the growth that Harrisburg has. But Harrisburg has always sort of been a cottage town, sort of. Everything's a little bit slower there and people can enjoy their neighbors and it just feels a little more spacious, let's say. And one of the things that they've approved, the zoning ordinances, which, which is not in concert with our Halep, which says what areas are dense and what areas are not. They're approving these conditional zoning permits that are not, not what the residents, the current residents, how they live and how they think the, the area be developed. So I think if you're gonna make real change and not just say, Hey, low density, which is sounds like a great silver bullet, but it's not, that's not going to do it. What you have to do is figure out what it is that people love about the area and change your ordinances so that new residential developments and commercial developments for that matter match up with sort of how the place feels. And as an architect, that's sort of my job is to figure out what it is that people love about their areas and put those policies in place.

Huddle: (09:30)
So let's talk about that then. Obviously growth is the big issue in Harrisburg, but what is something that you feel the town is doing well?

Patrick: (09:41)
I did like that they started looking at a sort of the heritage tree ordinance where you know, certain trees are required to be saved by the developers. I really hate to see our natural resources clear cut. That's a shame. I'd like to take that a step further and say that, you know, certain hardwood trees over a certain diameter need to just be saved and we're not going to allow this clear cutting because you know, a secondary problem when they clear cut is you get erosion and that goes straight into the, you know, the rivers and creeks and streams and, and that's a big problem as well. The other thing that I'm happy to see, they've instituted lately was a sustainability committee and I used to serve on the board for the local United States green building council. And that organization certifies buildings for being quote unquote green. Uh, so I like that they're starting that committee and I'd hope to join that committee and offer some insights, uh, from what the industry is doing and where it's going.

Huddle: (10:35)
So let's talk about you as a town councilman. You have this seat now. If we're talking at the end of your first term, what do you hope to have accomplished?

Patrick: (10:50)
I want to look at the unified development ordinance more closely and they've scheduled sort of a rewrite for it. And I want to be really part of that. I want to be part of the planning and zoning meetings and make sure, like I said earlier, that we put policies in place that maintain the sort of feel that Harrisburg has. And it's hard to put a, it's hard to quantify if you don't do it for a living. So I'll give you, I'll give you an example. If you say for instance in your ordinances, say you know, at least two bedrooms and a kitchen need to have an unobstructed view of nature or something like that, you know, some, some policy that talks about quality of life for residents and people that live there. Well what that translates to is, well you can't shove houses on top of each other because then you won't meet that qualification. So if you can put some things in like that, that are more about quality of life and not just a blanket, low density, high density, medium density, you'll affect the change that you want, that people love about Harrisburg without too overly cryptic about what you're trying to accomplish. So and then a developer can look at it and say, Hey, I can't quite do this, but what if we did this? You know, we can, we can plant, we'll plant a row of Cypress trees here and in six years cause they're really fast growing, we'll basically meet it. So those are things that they can talk about and we can fix those things.

Huddle: (12:14)
Real quick, before I let you go, if a Harrisburg resident wants to get in touch with you or voice some concerns, how can they do that?

Patrick: (12:31)
One of the things I was, um, upset about at previous council was there wasn't enough communication with the residents. And every time we showed up to a council meeting, it was crystal clear that the, um, decisions and the votes had been made. So when residents got up to the dais to speak -

Huddle: (12:44)
It was a formality.

Patrick: (12:45)
It was almost as if, okay, we're going to listen to them cause they, we know that they're going to say it, but we've already made our decision. And I think that's unfortunate. I wish people would get more involved, but if they want to get in touch with me they'll be able to find me on the Harrisburg North Carolina website. As soon as I believe. As soon as we take office on December 9th, they'll publish my email. It's available for anybody to look at. They'll also provide me with a phone number and they can also find me on Facebook and Twitter and things like that. And I always post updates from town council meetings and things like that. So I want to hear from everybody because it's not about me, it's, it's about the residents.

Huddle: (13:21)
Ian Patrick town Councilman elect for the town of Harrisburg. Thank you so much for coming on to the program today.

Patrick: (13:29)
Thanks so much for having me.

(13:31)
Alright, you guys stay tuned and we will be back after these messages from our sponsors.

Huddle: (15:25)
Welcome back to the program. We are talking with Rodney Dellinger. He is the other newly elected Town Councilman for the Town of Harrisburg. Councilman-elect, thank you for coming on the program. Um, appreciate your time.

Dellinger: (15:38)
Well thank you so much Jason. I'm glad to be here.

Huddle: (15:41)
So Rodney, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what led you to run for town council?

Dellinger: (15:48)
Sure. I'm a Charlotte native. I was born and raised there. Um, I went to NC state, graduated there with a degree in speech communications. Uh, so I traveled through Harrisburg 40 years ago when it was a two lane road. And you know, there wasn't much to Harrisburg.

Huddle: (16:04)
There was not.

Dellinger: (16:05)
No, there was not an, you know, a lot of people came to Harrisburg and still come to Harrisburg because it is a peaceful town, uh, to have less congestion and the dense population is not as great. So what led me to get started on this path probably about a year and a half ago, and I'd never really thought about it. They were going to put in a neighborhood, and they still are, between two neighborhoods, two all-brick neighborhoods that are going to, it's going to be high density on one third acre, lots on 0.17, .18, .20. We had to end up moving the town council meetings from the town council chamber over to the high school, where we had three or 400 people. Well, they kind of dismissed us and basically said, no, this is going to happen regardless, but we use the UDO. We went to the UDO and said, this is - the UDO says you can't do this, you can't do this, you can't do this. Uh, but they still dismissed us. So at that point I was with my neighbors. I kept trying to get them informed over the last year and a half, providing them information, going to town council meetings and I really had never planned to run. But then sometimes you get called out and it's like, so a friend of mine said, Rodney, if you don't get to do this, I don't want to ever hear you complain about Harrisburg again. So I decided to make that decision and so I want to be there for the people. I want to listen to the people I want to be able to. If 30 people, 40 people come and say, you know Rodney, this is not right or this is what the rules say. I want to be able to say you're right and we need to listen to them and not dismiss them.

Huddle: (17:40)
I asked Ian, Patrick, your co-Town Councilman-elect the same question I'm going to ask you. You guys unseated two incumbents in order to gain your seats. Why do you think you were able to do that?

Dellinger: (17:55)
We were mobilized and because we had actually - Well, Ian, Ian's younger. He's on a different path. I'm older so I use the old-fashioned method by knocking on doors and walking 30 neighborhoods and we had people walk, we had an email list and I continually updated them and over the last 18 months or whatever. So we were able to do it simply because the residents were tired of not being listened to and they saw some things that they did not like. So how do you correct that? You correct that with your vote and they certainly corrected it with their vote.

Huddle: (18:30)
I'm curious to know, you say the residents haven't been listened to. What is it that they're saying that's not being heard?

Dellinger: (18:37)
Well, one thing like I just mentioned a while ago was a lot of people want to keep Harrisburg on the downlow to be a unique town.

Huddle: (18:46)
But isn't that time past? I mean, let's be honest, if you've ever been through Harrisburg at five o'clock at night, it's kind of hard to go through that town. Isn't that time over?

Dellinger: (18:55)
No, we can still - It's going to get worse if we don't grab hold of it now. So people, people don't want five to seven homes per acre. They still want some yards and stuff. Look, when I was campaigning and I went through one of the neighborhoods that's a newer, newer neighborhood, where were the kids playing in? They were playing football in the middle of the street with their dad. There was three kids because there was not any yards in their house to play ball. There were, there were cars in the driveway and then the lots were not big enough like you and possibly, when we grew up to have a half acre lot where we can play in the background. So no, it's not too late, but it we had to, we do have 17 residential developments in the pipeline right now, so we need to be able to think smart and healthy to where it's going to go in the future. And there's no reason that it has to be a Huntersville, it has to be a Pineville. We can be unique and still keep that country feel. But if we don't take a hold now, we are at a turning point. We literally are at a turning point.

Huddle: (19:57)
You mentioned Harrisburg being a two lane town many years ago and it was. There was no traffic and there was one stoplight and two cops.

Dellinger: (20:05)
And you didn't speed.

Huddle: (20:06)
And you didn't speed whatever you did. You didn't speed in Harrisburg. But I guess my opinion,

Dellinger: (20:14)
Sure.

Huddle: (20:14)
If I could have one is, and I say this being a Concord resident, but having lived so close to Harrisburg for 17 years of my life, I lived so close to Harrisburg that I might as well have been in Harrisburg even though I was technically in Concord. That Harrisburg fought development and fought, specifically like big box and things like that, for so long that they refused to accept that certain things were going to happen whether they liked them or not. And the infrastructure improvements were not made in order to accommodate that growth that inevitably came. And so now, I think that's where people at first glance, when they look at Harrisburg and I'm talking about the highway 49 cooridor.

Dellinger: (21:00)
Sure, sure.

Huddle: (21:01)
That infrastructure is not there to handle the people that it has, much less the people that need to cut through.

Dellinger: (21:07)
Right. And is it going to be able to handle if we keep adding the communities that are up in high density? I mean you speak of some with the transportation, right, but does any city ever really catch up with their transportation?

Huddle: (21:19)
No, all cities are reactive. I mean Charlotte was 40 years late in building the beltway.

Dellinger: (21:23)
Right, exactly. But uh, we cannot rely on the developers to put in half tenths of a mile to correct a road or I said a half 10. I meant a half a mile or a mile when they're putting in a development to correct the road. You know, the DOT, I just learned this past week, they don't even have a budget for 2019-2020. So all the projects for NCDOT are on hold, except for emergency projects. So how do you catch up with that? You, you may have a moratorium to say, let's continue with the business growth, but let's slow down the residential until we can get caught up. The state can get caught up with us and we can be able to pass these things through. You know, five years ago, four years ago, they put in a bridge over the railroad track to get from one side of Harrisburg to another. They closed down two roads, they put in another bridge. So you've got two arteries that are trying to ship all these people in the morning and at rush hour, you know, in the evening over these two roads. Right? That that needs to change. So you want to put more and more houses over there just to ship it over to lane roads. So we've got to come together as a council and talk to the powers that be and say, look, we do have an issue there and we need to get it started before we continually add to it.

Huddle: (22:48)
I think the big question is, does Harrisburg really need four grocery stores? I'm just asking cause this is the question I get all the time. I mean you, you have some areas of Concord, you have to drive three miles, three, four miles to get to the closest grocery store and here in Harrisburg you have four within a mile.

Dellinger: (23:06)
Well, I mean you have more than four right? But, and how many auto part stores and how many, how many nail salons? Well, how many do you need? But we don't need that. Right. And look where they put, how many places where you store furniture and pods and stuff to put, you know, storage facilities. We don't need that either. But yeah, everybody wants a good restaurant. Right? Well you have to figure out, don't you think if a good restaurant was going to come, it would have already come. You have to look how close we are to Concorde meals and how people say, well I can just drive eight miles, eight miles and I have, you know, the children can go here, the can go here or whatever. So at some point we will get those, but we have to look to when somebody's ready to do that. And I'm sure the corporations have done that. From what I hear from other council, there's another, they're saying that, well, we need a lunchtime crowd to be able to do that. So I agree with you. We don't need any more restaurants, we don't need any more nail salons. We don't need any more storage facilities. So I hear you.

Huddle: (24:10)
Well, I said it sort of tongue in cheek, but it is kind of funny that Harrisburg, this little town has four huge grocery stores. But I digress. Real quick, I've asked this question to all the candidates as well - Excuse me, all the officials as well. If we're sitting here at the end of your term, same conversation, except now we're looking back. What do you hope to have occurred?

Dellinger: (24:32)
Well, I hope to have listened to the residents right? I hope that we end up getting some more larger lot developments instead of a third acre or a quarter acre. I do hope that the residents of Harrisburg now will begin to trust their officials and be able to know that they're being listened to. Uh, I do hope in four years that we'll have something that'll make Harrisburg unique and that it will not just be on its path to another big small town.

Huddle: (25:00)
And if your constituents want to get in touch with you, what's the best way to do that?

Dellinger: (25:03)
Well, they're setting up our email address as we speak. So it would be our dellinger@harrisburgnc.org so that would be the email address and they haven't given me the phone number yet.

Huddle: (25:14)
Very good. Well we'll try to keep everybody abreast of that information as it becomes available, but in the meantime, Rodney Dellinger, Town Councilman-elect for the town of Harrisburg, I appreciate you coming into the studio today and talking with us about your aspirations for the future. Thank you so much. 

Dellinger: (25:31)
I hope you have a good day. 

Huddle: (25:32)
You as well. You guys stay tuned. We have a few bills to pay and we'll be back in just a moment.

Commercials: (25:39)


Huddle: (27:26)
Hey, welcome back. Once again, I want to thank our guests today, Town Councilmen-elects, Ian Patrick and Rodney Dellinger from the Town of Harrisburg. Certainly appreciate them giving us their time and I am looking forward to seeing what they can do. Harrisburg, from a political standpoint, sort of has a history of being very volatile and what they said about residents feeling like they haven't been heard. That's a common theme that I've heard as well, that people were frustrated and they're probably not wrong when they said they were able to unseat two incumbents in order to gain their seats. You know, it's not rocket science. If you're a politician and you don't listen to your constituents, they're going to find somebody who does. So I'm hoping all the locally elected councilmen and commissioners, I'm hoping they're listening to this program and I'm hoping that they take those words to heart because if they don't, they'll find themselves on the outside looking in, just as these incumbents did. Next week, as I mentioned at the beginning of the program, we'll be talking to Thomas Langford and Darrell Jackson, from the cities of Concord and Kannapolis, respectively. They've just been elected to their seats and we're looking forward to hearing the plans they have for their municipalities. So even though part two of the series we'll be releasing on Thanksgiving, it's okay, you'll be sitting around, you'll be digesting that Turkey, turn on Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine and give a listen. And we certainly appreciate you doing so. Once again, we want to thank our sponsors, Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD Store of Concord. I've been your host, Jason Huddle. We'll see you for part two next week. In the meantime, have some pumpkin pie.

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