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Bevy of candidates jockey for 2 Stanfield seats

A mayoral seat and two spots on the Stanfield Town Council are up for election on Tuesday.

By all accounts the mayoral seat is already decided, barring no successful write-in candidate. Incumbent Kevin Barbee is seeking re-election with no opposition on the ballot.

Two commissioner seats, however, remain up for grabs with five candidates vying for the at-large spots. The election’s top two vote-getters will secure those seats.

One of the candidates is also an incumbent. Commissioner James Griffin is seeking a second full term after he started his political career in Stanfield by completing an unexpired term.

“I enjoy being involved in the community,” Griffin said.

A former police officer in Monroe, Griffin presently serves as the town’s police commissioner.

Griffin now operates a small business in Stanfield. At Herd of Deer, Griffin services outdoor power equipment. Between being a resident and small business owner, Griffin has a vested interest in the success of the town.

“I want to have an influence on how the town progresses,” Griffin said.

Three of the remaining four candidates are retired. All of them are political newcomers.

Karen (Faye) Love hopes to parlay her prior experience as a social worker into municipal leadership.

“I’m concerned about opioids in our county and drug use in Stanfield,” Love said. “I want to make a difference for lives in Stanfield.”

A native of Badin, Love has lived in Stanfield for the last eight years. She has worked for the Department of Social Services in Stanly, Mecklenburg and Union counties. She has an interest in the welfare of children.

“I want to make sure our children are protected and their needs met,” she said.

Love said also hopes the Town Council adds more diversity to its leadership.

Another former police officer wants to join the council: Charles L. Connell. The retired officer worked for police departments in both Stanfield and Locust for a total of 35 years before retiring from the latter in 2012.

“It just seems I could make a difference,” Connell said of his candidacy. “I just want to see Stanfield grow in a way that benefits the town and its people.”

He added that Stanfield needs to bolster its tax base with more businesses, instead of relying on property tax hikes for residents.

Wally Crawford is the remaining retiree looking to add Town Council as a list of his experiences. A retired salesman and manufacturers representative, Crawford has lived in Stanfield for 17 years.

“I think a change is needed in Stanfield government,” Crawford said.

He cites two points of specific interest, both related to growth management.

“Growth is coming to western Stanly County,” he said. “There’s not much we can do about that, but we can manage it.”

He also expressed concern about how the town has been handling business opportunities.

“There’s a lot of discriminatory zoning enforcement going on. That’s not in the best interest of the town,” Crawford said.

James Kluttz regards his lack of political experience as an advantage, noting a fresh perspective and a lack of biases.

He presently serves as chairman of the Long Range Land Use Planning committee for the town of Stanfield, a volunteer group formed last year.

Kluttz is employed by Novant Health, supervising information technology as vice president and chief technology officer.

He wants to create an environment that balances prosperous growth and the town’s heritage.

“Change comes about incrementally, beginning with dialogue, active listening to solicit input from the community about what they aspire to become and how they see their community in the future,” Kluttz said. “My goal, if elected, is to foster dialogue, community engagement and help to shape the future of our town.”

Kluttz said the town of Stanfield lacks a strategy for its future growth.

“We can no longer be selective as to who and when we provide utility services such as water and sewer,” he added. “If we ever expect to become an attractive community for smart growth our lack of infrastructure has to be addressed. Without a sound core you have nothing to build upon.”