ELECTION 2020: Locust native wants to continue to serve
Published 10:25 am Sunday, October 25, 2020
One current member of the Locust City Council seeking reelection is completing his third term on the council.
Mike Haigler, who is running with incumbents Larry Baucom, Rusty Efird and Harry Fletcher along with newcomers Barry Sims for one of four spots, was elected to the council in 2011.
A lifelong Locust resident growing up on Smith Street, he attended Locust Elementary and graduated from West Stanly High School before receiving basic law enforcement training at Stanly Community College.
He came to work for the Locust Police Department in 1988 and later spent 15.5 years as the city’s chief of police. Haigler also served with the fire and rescue for 24 years and spent one year as both the fire and police chief for the city.
Later, Haigler married a local girl, Angie; they have been married for 31 years. She works as a paramedic in Stanly while his son is a Cabarrus County paramedic.
Service has been in the life of Haigler for many years. He’s been a deputy sheriff since 2012 and now serves as a lieutenant under Sheriff Jeff Crisco. He has worked in law enforcement for 31 years.
His training and experience in law enforcement, he said, has been a benefit to serving as city councilman. Haigler said he has “a unique perspective because I’ve worked in public service for so many years, pretty much all my adult life. I understand what emergency services go through.”
Two roles he has performed for the Locust City Council have been in the areas of economic development and code enforcement. Having owned a salvage business briefly in the 2000s, Haigler said he sees “how it is right now with small businesses struggling. I’ve been in that position.”
Haigler also said he sees the perspective of what law enforcement is dealing with these days, “everything from the social issues to physical and medical issues like COVID. I think I have a perspective on it very few people have, considering 30 years of working in public service.”
Haigler has lived in the city long enough to see its sewer system start “from the time the dirt first started turning” and knows more about what when into the system then most.
Haigler also was working for the city when N.C. Highway 24-27 was widened to four lanes in the city and the zoning and planning which went into the city’s development of the thoroughfare plan.
He decided to run for city council years ago because he “felt like I had not finished the work I had started when I was there with the police department and as chief of police … it gave me the motivation and desire to go back and do more, to pick up where I left off.”
With the growth Locust has had, Haigler said, comes some issues, which is why he recently said at a council meeting he would like to see the city during budget workshops every March come up with long-term plans for the town.
“We need to sit down and plan what we want Locust to look like in 10, 15, 20 years because making the decision now is going to impact that,” Haigler said.
He added heritage objects like old-growth trees, rocks and other natural features need to be identified and protected from developers disturbing and changing them.
Haigler said he wants to continue to “find ways to help people and our citizens weather this difficult time.”
Haigler credited City Administrator Cesar Correa for his efforts, saying he is “very progressive-minded while at the same time not throwing out our history and heritage.”
Many of the newest residents Haigler said he has spoken to are older adults moving from up north. They like the city because “they have easy access to Charlotte and Concord without dealing with the crime and traffic.”
Haigler said Correa reaches out to work with both the natives of the city and new residents to “try and find a happy medium.”
Building a new senior center for residents is also important, Haigler said, with the number of older adults living in Locust. The current community building has served a lot of years “but it is getting the point now with the size of the town and the population that (the building) doesn’t meet all of our needs.”
He added he would like to see a new building behind Locust’s city hall buildings for open concerts and have bathroom and meeting facilities.
Haigler said he would like to see another way for residents in the city center area next to city hall through Ardsley Drive to the Food Lion and other businesses in that shopping area. A new path would also allow more golf cart, bike and foot traffic to shopping.
He added the council has been concerned about the traffic on 24-27, adding the council put a light in at Main Street and Browns Hill Road where the Bojangles and Taco Bell are located.