Columbus candidates share biographical information

Published 3:22 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

Note: The following includes biographical information about the seven Columbus candidates as submitted by the candidates.

Mayor candidates

Eric McIntyre

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I was born and raised in Columbus, North Carolina and graduated from Polk Central High School in 1975. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Western Carolina University in 1980. In 1985, I married my wife, Tammy, and our son Russell was born in 1991. Realizing the importance of raising our son in a small town atmosphere with an excellent education system, we returned to Columbus in 1996. Russell graduated from Polk County High School this past June and is currently a freshman at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

After serving two years on both the planning and zoning boards of Columbus, I understand the challenges we are currently facing and the direction we need to take. I have decided to run for the position of mayor of Columbus because I believe that with strong leadership we can preserve our small town atmosphere while building and securing our future. Some of the most important issues we are currently facing are properly managed growth, a reliable and adequate water supply, improving infrastructure, budgeting for capital expenditures and improving relationships with other county governing bodies. &bsp;

Kathleen McMillian

Kathleen McMillan has served two stints as mayor of Columbus from 1983 to 1990 and returned in December 2002 to fill the unexpired term of Roy Case and is now serving as mayor.

&dquo;I was born here, (in fact, in the house in which I still reside), grew up here with many friends who made my younger years very rewarding,&dquo; says McMillian. &dquo;I learned at an early age that your home, family, and other environmental influences molds a person and makes you who and what you are. Therefore, my parents and friends and the town of Columbus provided me the chance to grow up in a very quaint atmosphere. Columbus is a bigger part of my life, since it is actually a part of me. There are no words to describe all the factors and parts of Columbus that are still important to me. My life was slow, traffic was minimal, and money was hard to come by with hard work. Most people were laid back, sociable and friendly. This quality of life may have changed with our current technology, but basically, Columbus and its newer generation appear to remain the same. I love our town.

&dquo;I chose to serve the residents of Columbus, as an elected official because I felt the importance of giving something back to my home town. I have been fortunate, in that, I have served with many supportive council members and to work for what may be considered to be for the best interest of our town. &dquo;

Town council candidates

Michael Gage

My father was a contractor, and I worked with him before joining the Navy. He instilled in me the difference between right and wrong and the value of an honest day&39;s work. Quality should never be compromised. No person is less or more than you. These are old school values that I pass on to my children today. While on the town council, I have learned that we can&squo;t get the job done on our own, it takes a team effort – council, staff, advisory boards, and citizen input.

After graduating high school, I enlisted in the Navy and became a machinist mate on a ballistic submarine, where I proudly served for four years. After an honorable discharge, I worked in construction and earned a license in aluminum fabrication.

In search of a better quality of life, my family and I moved to Columbus in 2001. Having a great interest in the local community, I began to volunteer for various organizations, including the Columbus Planning Board. We made significant progress on various topics, including the landscape, sign and subdivision ordinances.

I enjoy working as a coach for Little League Baseball in Polk County. I am a member of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church.

My reasons for running for the town council in 2007, was that I believed it was our responsibility and civic duty to give back to our community. I was compelled to live up to the expecations of the people that voted for me, and have given a 100 percent effort to this job – doing my homework, working with others and fighting when needed to preserve our town.

Ernie Kan

Ernie Kan was born in Raleigh, where she lived until moving to Columbus in 2004. She is an alumna of North Carolina State University, and has worked for the finance and health departments of the City of Raleigh, and for Citadel Locksmith Company in Raleigh. She is married to Ed Kan, and they have a son, Isaac. When her son started school, she became a long-term substitute for the Wake County Public School System.

&dquo;We had friends in Columbus that we visited often, and the small town atmosphere tugged at us,&dquo; she says.

&dquo;I am a person who likes to be involved,&dquo; she says. When she moved to Columbus, she began going to town and county meetings. She has served on the Town of Columbus Planning Board, and now sits on the zoning board of adjustment. She has also worked with the walkability, Christmas Parade and 4th of July committees. She believes that people will be involved in the town activities when they feel needed and appreciated.

She is now the executive director of the nonprofit advocate of recycling, RE-Expressions, which does the recycling for events in Columbus and Green Creek.

&dquo;When curbside recycling was stopped in Columbus, we collected newspapers once a month to keep recycling in the forefront,&dquo; she says. She has volunteered at the Columbus Recycling Center, and has trained town personnel for the center through RE-Expressions.

She would like to see the town and county work together to enhance both since Columbus is the county seat.

Ricky McCallister

Ricky McCallister, elected in 2005, says while he is interested in working with town officials, his first thought always has and always will be the citizens of the Town of Columbus. Columbus is growing rapidly, and the growth continually gives town council members new issues and challenges to address. McCallister says he became interested in running for town council in 205 and was eager to learn the needs of Columbus and its citizens. He has been a Columbus resident since 1987 with his family &dquo;and it&squo;s been a real pleasure,&dquo; he says. &dquo;Columbus is a great place to live and raise a family with its small town atmosphere and beautiful foothills and mountain scenery. I have enjoyed what time I have already served on the council and look forward to being able to continue to serve.&dquo;

McCallister believes the future of Columbus is bright and officials must always work as a team as everyone is players on a team for its citizens. &dquo;My views have always been about what is best for the citizens of Columbus. My decisions and recommendations were never and never will be for personal gain or recognition. I will always respect and work closely with the council members, the mayor and our town manager, but my first thought will always be how this decision will affect our citizens. McCallister, a veteran of the U.S. Marines, says he supports the House of Flags and the Town&squo;s Veteran&squo;s Memorial Park. Ricky McCallister is a member of Midway Baptist church.

Margaret Metcalf

Margaret, a native of Polk County and Columbus, is currently serving a four year term as council person. She completed the North Carolina School of Government Elected Officials course shortly after being elected. Margaret is employed with the State of North Carolina and a member of the Columbus Baptist Church.

&dquo;Shaping and guiding the growth of Columbus is important to me. I feel that having family in the community and growing up here gave me insight as to how to work for the residents of the town.&dquo;

&dquo;I wanted to do my part for a community that has meant so much to me.&dquo; Margaret&squo;s priorities are effective and efficient government. She desires to keep tax burdens and user fees low. Recycling and managed growth are also important to her.

David Weiss

I was born in Charlotte, N.C. After living in Georgia for many years, I moved back to North Catolina around 1999. Early on, as a chemist, I installed chemical analyzers, and trained customers. My work included research and technical writing. Later I found myself diagnosing, troubleshooting, and repairing computer hardware. Currently, I have a small business that promotes healthy gardens, landscaping, and trees through the use of correct soil nutrients. My hobbies include organic gardening, nutrition, and working on cars.

I got involved with Columbus politics after Columbus doubled its size and was under the pressure to grow at an accelerated pace. I joined concerned citizens and Save Our Slopes in efforts to raise public awareness. I started attending town meetings and supported the efforts of the old planning board to create ordinances to protect the environment and its rural character, to make people aware, to take a stand for what the community cherishes.

I brought persistence through researching moratoria, state statutes, and presented this written information to the Columbus Town Council. With a crowd of community support, the moratorium was enacted, enabling the planning board the time and resources to develop new ordinances to safeguard our environment.

I have a passion for the natural beauty and health of the environment. I continue to support local efforts for sustainability, and to protect our rural character and natural resources. Although modernization seriously impacts the environment, I would like for future generations to have access to at least the same standards that we enjoy.