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Meet Your Candidates: Belmont



In our ongoing commitment to inform and educate Gaston County residents, the GBA is proud to present a comprehensive compilation of responses from the candidates running for office in Belmont, NC. We believe that there is great importance in ensuring every resident has access to the information they need to make informed decisions at the ballot box.

Candidates were asked:

  • Please provide a short introduction (50 words or less) highlighting your professional background and achievements.

  • What inspired you to run for city/town council, and what specific qualities or experiences make you well-suited for this role?

  • What are your top priorities for your city/town (specifically pertaining to the business community), and how do you plan to address them if elected?

  • Please select one of the following local issues, and provide a brief description on your stance on the topic: Economic Development, Public Safety, Transportation & Infrastructure, and Education

To view candidate responses from other municipalities, please click here.

We invite you to join us at the Belmont Candidate forum, sponsored by CaroMont Health and in collaboration with the Montcross Area Chamber.
Venue: The Pointe Church Date: October 19th Time: 5:00 PM
This event is your chance to engage in meaningful conversations with Belmont officials and share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns. Click here to register.

 

Candidates for Mayor of Belmont

  • Rick Jordan

  • Martha Stowe

  • Richard Turner

  • Amanda Wall

Candidates for Belmont City Council

  • George (Buck) Altice

  • Peg Argent

  • Barry Flynn

  • Jim Hefferan

  • Cynthia Hegler

  • Charlie Hill

  • Cory Miller

  • Jason P. Rumfelt


 

Rick Jordan - Running for Mayor of Belmont

I am the Real Estate Director for Lidl, US.

  • My background in development and business development is perfectly suited to economic development, infrastructure, budgeting and bringing stakeholders and jurisdictions together to achieve common goals that serve both cities and their residents.

  • My achievements in business have been to rely on action over lip service, outside of the box thinking and bringing people together to achieve real results.

What inspired me to run for mayor was seeing other candidates tout their years in local politics, and only relying on their knowledge of bureaucracy rather than actual results.

  • Seeing our aging infrastructure and knowing the detriment that it will have on our economic development was the final spur for me to run.

  • My experience in delivering results, working with multiple state offices and knowing how to deliver practical, real results and solutions to our town is what makes me well-suited for this role.

My top priorities for the town are to look at the current plans we have in place for development, traffic and infrastructure, reconcile them with current costs and put into place a real plan of action that can benefit our local businesses.

  • For the business community, my plan is to address how we ensure they have a voice and that their concerns are addressed moving forward.

  • Belmont needs to listen to its business community to ensure they not only know they are welcome but valued as well.

Economic Development - I chose economic development as my number one stance out of the topics listed, but please understand that without transportation and infrastructure, you have no economic development, the two go hand-in-hand.

  • Some candidates want to stall development in Belmont and the reality is, without development and growth, taxes must increase because it then falls to the current residents and business owners to now pay for lack of growth.

  • The state will allocate less funds to a jurisdiction that has shown no growth or has made it too difficult for businesses and developers to come into.

  • My stance is to address growth and development in a smart way that creates areas of mixed-use development that help ease congestion on the roads, not overload our infrastructure in any given area and protects our downtown core so that businesses can thrive instead of wondering if people will be able to even park near their businesses.

  • There is no overnight fix to the rapid and unchecked growth that has occurred, but starting on day one I will make sure plans are reviewed, updated, and in many instances redone to help create a vision for


 

Martha Stowe - Running for Mayor of Belmont

I am a graduate of Wake Forest with a Masters in Administration from UNCC.

  • As a 4 term council member I have been fortunate to help to complete a skateboard park, the Harris Teeter Town Center, and the rec center.

  • I currently serve on the Gaston County parks and rec Board and on Keep Belmont Beautiful.

The mayor serves as the public face of the city. My role will be that public face for Belmont and to serve as the negotiator with local and state officials in conjunction with the manager. I can smile with southern belle charm and convince you to do almost anything within reason if it is for a good cause. If I could talk Rep Bumgarner into getting us $150,000 for the skateboard park that is a good indication that I can be successful in other negotiations for Belmont. I have managed boards and a small business so I am very careful with money and comfortable with budgets.As the mayor I need to be able to facilitate communication and understanding between elected officials, appointed officials, and the community. As chairman of the First Presbyterian Daycare/ Preschool Board I filled a similar role as I worked with board members, church members, and our state regulatory agency as I managed the entire re-accreditation process after I had to terminate the director. If Charlie Martin thinks highly enough of me to support me you know I must be qualified. I hope you will choose me to serve as your mayor so I will have the opportunity to move us forward in a positive direction.

If we want to develop as a business and commercial area the Highway 74 bridge and the I 85 widening project have to be completed. I want to form a coalition of mayors and managers from our area including Charlotte so that our combined voices can have more effect in Raleigh to make that happen.

  • In Belmont our small business are thriving.

  • We need to continue to support them with facade grants and making more parking available.

As an educator , education to develop workforce for the businesses in the area is of paramount importance.

  • We have worked with Gaston College to have their new fiber innovations facility in Belmont which will set us up to provide the best workforce in the nation in that area.

  • Our community colleges are our best asset if we want to support business.


 

George “Buck” Altice - Running for Belmont City Council

Professional background: Forty-one years in our City Belmont Fire Department; last twenty-two years as Volunteer Fire Chief managing all aspects; Fire Protection, Fire Life Safety Education, Fire Prevention and Inspections, Basic Life Support and Rescue.

  • During tenure, reduced North Carolina from Class 6 to Class 3 to ensure homeowners and commercial properties fire insurance premiums were lowered during each fire department state inspection.

Department staff accomplished these outstanding results while maintaining department growth within the same pace of Ad Valorem revenue (Property Tax).

  • After reviewing FY23-24 Budget Message as seen in the following statements, I felt with open city council seats a fresh conservative approach would help guide selecting an appropriate tax rate; the revenue neutral tax rate is $0.393 per $100 in value.

  • The General Fund includes a 33% increase in Ad Valorem revenue from the prior year due to the revaluation re-setting property values to the market.

  • The increased revenue is funding new personnel to accommodate growth and funding the five-year Capital Improvement Plan that includes Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Quality of Life projects.

  • This proposed budget only reduced the property tax rate four cents to $0.455 per $100 of taxable property valuation not to possible tax neutral rate $0.393 per $100 in value.

Top priorities include: Sustainability and Affordability by ensuring property tax, city service fees, water/sewer rates, stormwater fees have moderate and justifiable increases when necessary.

Belmont needs to invest in an Economic Development Strategic Plan; to use it as a defined road map for all economic development.

  • We have proven our main street and now we need to reach out of our comfort zone.

  • There is great potential in North Belmont and River District for development that will further offset our tax rate.

  • A change from awaiting development to advertising an established plan.

  • Thinking outside of the box; Removing barriers to community ideas sometimes take the form of changing policies, ordinances, or even challenging the thinking of municipal staff and officials that “this is the way it has always been done.


 

Peg Argent - Running for Belmont City Council

I have worked for Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services for nearly 26 years.

  • Provided leadership to Adult and Aging staff and responsible for many DSS and Aging Services programs.

  • Outstanding record managing various funding streams and program requirements.

  • Collaborated with medical, legal, faith and public safety community stakeholders.

I have lived in Belmont for 27 years and have seen the community grow. As Belmont changes, new skills are needed on City Council. As a Social Worker who spent the majority of my career working for Gaston County Government in an administrative role, I am an experienced communicator, and effectively work with all people. I understand the requirements of a local government and its obligation to the citizens. I have had opportunities to work with groups such as the Gaston County Health Equity Team, Transportation Advisory Board, Adult Protective Services Multidisciplinary Team, the Council on Aging and the Home and Community Care Block Grant Advisory Team. I was instrumental in the award of the first Victims of Crime grant to the Adult and Aging Services Division. I have coordinated with multiple community agencies, such as Caromont Health, Partners Behavioral Health, GEMS, and our numerous law enforcement agencies to improve the quality of life for citizens.

Belmont is fortunate to have a variety of businesses in our community.

  • Services, dining, retail, manufacturing, financial, building and more are all critical to driving the growth of Belmont and maintaining the quality of life the residents have come to expect.

  • As our city grows we need to assure that we remain attractive to new business.

  • My priorities include assuring transparency for all council actions so that all businesses have a fair and equal opportunity to join our community.

  • Another priority for Belmont is to link North Belmont, Downtown and the Eastside together. This will form a larger customer base. I believe that assuring safe walkability in Belmont, added bike lanes and group transit, such as the expansion of the light rail, will bring the citizens and businesses together.

  • As someone with experience in collaboration with stakeholders I plan to explore ways to enhance the relationship and opportunities Belmont has with the Montcross Chamber.

In order for Belmont to maintain a robust economic environment we must focus on smart development.

  • Housing plays a tremendous role in how people live, work and play in this city.

  • While Belmont has had a large expansion of higher-end housing, it is important that city council works to attract developers who will build to meet the needs of individuals across the continuums of age and income.

  • It is very important that Belmont has housing options that affords people who work in Belmont the opportunity to live in Belmont.

  • Smart development will create the housing that keeps local people in Belmont, contributing to the community as workers, consumers and entrepreneurs.


 

Jim Hefferan - Running for Belmont City Council

I am completing my first term on Belmont City Council.

  • I have a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from Wake Forest.

  • I am an attorney specializing in complex business litigation, as well as a former law professor.

I am running for re-election because, with all of the recent changes in City leadership, it is important to have a steady and reliable voice of experience on Council. I have a proven record of thorough preparation, thoughtful analysis, and steady leadership. I use my skills as an attorney to analyze issues, synthesize different positions, and forge consensus among my fellow Council members with respect to the complex challenges facing the City.

We have approved a number of commercial projects over the last four years and if re-elected, I will continue to look for commercial development opportunities to expand the tax base.

  • This includes enticing companies to locate their headquarters in Belmont.

  • One of the ways to do this is to provide desirable housing options for the employees who will be working in the types of businesses we want to attract.

  • If the daily commute to and from Charlotte is a slog, we can provide individuals with a chance to avoid it by working and living in Belmont.

  • Greater collaboration with our institutions of higher education can also provide new and creative business opportunities, as the new CaroMont Health Hospital complex on Belmont Abbey land and Gaston College’s world-class Fiber Innovation Center demonstrate. Finally, we need to continue to support our existing small businesses.

  • Our Main Street District has added 46 net new businesses and 291 net new jobs since 2019, and we need to maintain this momentum.

The Charlotte area is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, making it unrealistic to think we can simply flip a switch and magically stop all growth. But we need to be deliberate in how we grow and make sure that we do so in a way that works for Belmont.

  • Many of the negative consequences of growth occur when development outpaces the roads and infrastructure required to support it.

  • However, most of the roads needing improvements are State-maintained roads and we can no longer count on the State to make those improvements in a reasonable timeframe, if at all.

  • My approach to growth has been to push for conditional zoning, which allows the City more discretion and input in the development process by negotiating with developers to achieve tangible benefits the City would not otherwise realize.

  • By doing so, we can obtain road and intersection improvements, often at the developer’s expense, years ahead of any State-imposed schedule.

  • At the same time, Council has made numerous amendments to the City’s Land Development Code to strengthen its provisions and protect Belmont from the consequences of unchecked development.

If re-elected, I will continue to scrutinize proposed projects and work to ensure that they provide net tangible benefits to Belmont in order to be approved.


 

Cynthia Hegler - Running for Belmont City Council

I am the owner and Broker in Charge of Southern Home Group Realty, LLC.

  • We are a brokerage firm that focuses on investments real estate by building & rehabilitating houses, managing Airbnbs and long-term rentals.

  • I have been on the Historic Belmont Foundation Board, The Main Street Advisory Board where I chaired the Design Committee, I am currently on Planning and Zoning in Belmont and I am a part of the Missing Middle Steering Committee and the Pedestrian Plan Steering Committee.

I was inspired to run for City Council after working in Belmont on housing issues. I noticed three disturbing trends – the way different neighborhoods & areas of Belmont are treated, the failing infrastructure system and that middle housing code being void from our Land Development Code making it almost impossible to provide attainable housing for our work force. These disparities and their impact on our citizens deeply disturbed me and I felt moved to get involved to make a change that would directly impact our working families.

My top priority is to properly update and maintain infrastructure. By doing so we will maintain the integrity of the real estate business owners have invested in, make it easier to provide housing for employees of small business, make the town more inviting for visitors who spend money here and make room for economic growth to support all business owners.


Transportation & Infrastructure - Transportation and infrastructure are two things that most significantly impact our lives on a daily basis and two things that have been ignored in our town for far too long. Water and sewer issues directly affect the value and maintenance of our homes and businesses and the mismanagement of such has devalued land and homes throughout Belmont. Not only are there water and sewer lines crumbling under our streets, but many infill lots don’t have access to the utilities that tax money pays for making the land unbuildable and worthless. A tight housing market and skyrocketing home prices exacerbate the need for land to be available and usable to loosen our housing market for middle income earners. Transportation is essential to our economic development and while the Council doesn’t have purview over State roads – we do have opportunities to follow Gastonia’s example and introduce a Bond Package where our citizens invest in the improvement of our intersections to move traffic more efficiently through town. While we can’t fix it over night – there are some solutions that thus far have been completely ignored while the focus has been on all the things that don’t and haven’t worked until now.


 

Cory Miller - Running for Belmont City Council

I am the owner of Belmont Yoga and Lone Ranger Customworks in downtown Belmont and a current resident of Belmont for over 10 years. I am active on three city committees, all of which keep me in touch with the community and small business owners.

Being a member of the Design Committee, Economic Vitality Committee and Arts & Culture Visions Sub-Committee, this has given me the insight and knowledge to help move Belmont in a smart and positive direction. A seat on the city council will help me make more of an impact for the residents and visitors of Belmont.

My focus on the city council would be supporting and growing small business, community accessibility, smart development and the arts. I will address these by working closely with current and future business owners and residents to determine their needs for the community.

Transportation and infrastructure will be a key topic as Belmont continues to grow.

  • I will help enforce the Pedestrian Master Plan to bring more sidewalks, greenways, crosswalks and bike lanes.

  • This will reduce the number of vehicles on the road by creating alternative means of transportation and improving walkability.

  • Fewer vehicles means less traffic and less stress on our NCDOT roadways.


 

Jason Rumfelt - Running for Belmont City Council

I have been self-employed as a financial consultant for 28 years.

  • As an active community member since childhood, I was appointed to Belmont City Council in July, 2023.

  • Additionally, I serve on the Transportation Action Committee, Tourism Development Authority and volunteer with Keep Belmont Beautiful, school backpack program, PTO, SPHS Booster Club and various church events.

I have been self-employed as a financial consultant for 28 years.

  • As an active community member since childhood, I was appointed to Belmont City Council in July, 2023.

  • Additionally, I serve on the Transportation Action Committee, Tourism Development Authority and volunteer with Keep Belmont Beautiful, school backpack program, PTO, SPHS Booster Club and various church events.

Additionally, I have always been a person of action who is willing to take on leadership roles, particularly with causes about which I am very passionate, to collaborate and accomplish the objectives of the mission.

First, with regard to the business community, I am a business owner for 28 years, and I primarily serve other business owners as clients. I am certainly familiar with their challenges and as a local representative who can help move the needle with “supporting local,” I plan to be a significant advocate for our local businesses.

  • Additionally, I am very concerned about residential development which has significantly outpaced the supporting infrastructure for too many years, including insufficient roadways and pedestrian-friendly walkways as well as a sewer and water system that needs a drastic overhaul.

  • Another major point of my platform is the upgrading of our existing youth sports fields and facilities, and evaluation of potential additional recreational fields and facilities to better accommodate our growing youth programs.

  • Lastly, and just as important, I want to provide full and unmitigated support for our police, fire and rescue personnel as well as evaluate additional tax rate reductions.

One of my top areas of emphasis and interest is Transportation & Infrastructure. As a Belmont native who has lived on the South Point peninsula for the majority of my life, I have seen firsthand how the rampant residential development has caused enormous traffic congestion and severely outrun the infrastructure needed to support all of the new residents here and throughout the city.

While I understand that the continued growth of our city is inevitable, I believe our city needs to take a more measured and smarter approach to residential growth with an eye towards the long-term implications on our transportation and infrastructure.

  • To this end, I lobbied hard and was pleased to be selected as one of the City Council members on the new Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC).

  • I believe that having this new and regular “face time” with NCDOT, through our quarterly meetings, will allow us to keep Belmont’s traffic, roadway and pedestrian concerns front and center with them.

Further, I am open to a discussion about possible bond financing and/or developer-funded traffic and infrastructure improvements. I also want to engage with our Public Works department to evaluate our sewer and water capacity which also seems insufficient to meet the growing needs of our local population. I am confident that, through engaging with the appropriate personnel whether planning & zoning, NCDOT, public works, finance and other departments, we can deliver solutions for our citizens that will better address and provide for our transportation and infrastructure needs going forward.

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