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3 incumbents, one newcomer compete in Badin election

Of the four candidates running for seats on the Badin Town Council, three already serve, leaving one spot contested on Election Day.

Mayor Anne Kelley Harwood, Mayor Pro-tem Deloris (Dee) Chambers and Councilman Lawrence “Larry” Robert Milano all have terms ending this year.

Harwood will have been the mayor for three years this December, while Milano has served on the council since 2006.

Of all of the members, Chambers has been on the council the longest, serving as a regular council member from 1993 until 2007. She has been the mayor pro-tem since 2007.

Chambers, the west district member, and Harwood, the east district member, face no opponents this fall. Milano, one of three at-large members, is running against Phillip James Burdge.

All three representatives said they believe in the effectiveness of the current council and are pleased with the accomplishments the town has made in recent years.

“I’d like to see the council to remain the same council as it is to keep the continuity and everything moving in the direction that we have,” Milano said. “We have strategic plans in place, goals that we’ve set, and we’ve taken action to meet those goals, so I’d like to be part of that. We’ve set those goals out, we’ve checked them off for the last two years, and we’ve re-established new goals. From an economic standpoint, we need to continue to drive to bring businesses to the town.”

Milano and Chambers both said unification is a key concern, with Milano saying he wants to work on “joining both East and West Badin and making it more of a community than what it is already.”

Chambers echoed the sentiment.

“I would like to see Badin to be united as one, instead of West Badin and East Badin because of that plant, which is no longer in operation,” she said. “I would like to see it torn down. Instead of just saying ‘West Badin’ and ‘East Badin,’ just say ‘Badin.’ Because I serve on the council and we make decisions that affect west and east, so just cut the west and east out of the equation and just say ‘Badin,’ because my heart is in Badin.”

Chambers said that in her 25 years on the council, she’s seen the town reach several goals, saying West Badin Park is used both by residents and visitors more since the town made upgrades to it.

“I’d like to see more work done, more playground equipment for the kids,” she said. “I would love to see a tennis court.”

Milano said some of the changes were inspired by children. About three years ago, he and Harwood talked with four young boys on the basketball court, he said.

“There was trash everywhere,” he said. “It was all tore up. We met with four young men, young kids, and we just asked them, ‘What would you like? What’s missing here?’ ”

The feedback included requests for a water fountain and work on the basketball court, which was “in disarray,” Milano said.

Since then, West Badin Park has gained a gardening fountain, gardening and grading work and other projects, Milano said. He wants to see the town add more water to the park and add a gazebo.

“The park is very big for me — both parks,” Milano said. “Not that I’m excluding East Badin’s park, but East Badin’s park, they’re holding their own.”

Chambers said she also wants to see sidewalks added and repaired in West Badin, adding that the town has nearly completed work to upgrade and beautify a large median on Roosevelt Street. The town is working to update other medians and to repair sidewalks in town. The council is applying for a grant that could help pay for the work on the sidewalks.

All of those changes and upgrades are part of the council’s bigger plan, Harwood said.

“We would like for Badin to be a destination, so we’re working towards that end,” the mayor said.

Harwood can imagine a coffee shop, art gallery and bakery joining the town’s businesses, giving visitors and residents more places to shop. But adding a marina on Badin Lake is at the core of her vision to put Badin on the map.

“As a council, we do have long- and short-term goals, and we are getting them done,” she said. “And it’s all towards us being a destination, not having to rely on Alcoa, relying on ourselves. That type of thing.”

Milano said he wants to see increased access to Morrow Mountain and the opening of the hoped-for marina.

“The great thing about this council, and the reason I want to be here, is this council actually has vision,” he said. “We talk about it, and nothing is out of bounds. And so we talk about a marina knowing that if it does happen, it will be a long time down the road, but still, we have the vision.”

Milano praised his fellow council members.

“The cohesiveness of this council makes it so that there’s not a single person on this council who could take credit for any specific project,” he said. “It’s just such a good team effort, and it’s very cohesive. What I’d say is that all achievements of this council fall on everybody on this council.”

He also praised Harwood.

“…It’s through her leadership that we moved in this direction and we’ve made such, you know, achievements in the last couple of years,” he said. “The mayor does not allow us to sit back. She communicates with us and the goals are known, and as you can see also, we have working groups and we attend and participate and time is no constraint. It’s absolutely wonderful and I think it’s a very cohesive council.”

He also praised Town Manager Jay Almond for his communication with the board.

“I think that that’s important, that the council has tremendous respect for Jay Almond, and he has mutual respect for us,” Milano said.

Chambers is excited for the future of Badin.

“Just to see everything come together, it just thrills me because there’s been a lot of planning, a lot of talk … to see everything come in place, you know, I’m so thrilled,” she said.

At-large candidate Phillip James Burdge did not respond by press deadline.

Imari Scarbrough is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News and Press.