Mayoral Race for Town of Waxhaw – Candidate Q&A


Town of Waxhaw Mayoral Candidate – Edwin Elam
Town of Waxhaw Mayoral Candidate – Jon Perdue
Town of Waxhaw Mayoral Candidate – Ron Pappas
Town of Waxhaw Mayoral Candidate – Bob Morgan
Town of Waxhaw Mayoral Candidate – Ericka L. McKnight

The TriW News sent a questionnaire to the Town of Waxhaw’s mayoral candidates recently. We asked each candidate six of our most pressing questions that we could identify that would give our readers and the citizens of Waxhaw a better understanding of their individual positions on the issues.

We sent the same six questions to each candidate. Each response was submitted by the candidate back to the writer who did not edit or change their response. We simply performed a copy and paste function and lined up the sentences correctly.

We used a business inventory accounting method by listing and displaying the responses from the candidates to our readers in the order received by each candidate using the “first in, first out” (FIFO) methodology.

By taking this approach and giving each candidate the same amount of time to respond, we believe we have been transparent, and will leave it up to each individual citizen to cast their vote at the ballot box to decide who they feel will be the best candidate to represent the town as the next Mayor of Waxhaw.

Response from candidate Ron Pappas (reference below as RP)



1. Do you think our downtown is healthy, successful, and offers the right amount of shopper options? If not fully satisfied, what would you do to improve it?

RP: Our current downtown is the envy of our neighboring towns and cities from an aesthetic standpoint. People love the charm of Waxhaw. The feel of connection, the simple beauty, and the wonderful shopping and dining options. But are we poised to enjoy the successful future your question implies? Not currently. Let me answer with the facts as to how I would improve our odds of success. We must attract more businesses to our Town. We should have a Mayor who understand the business of running a town. It is common knowledge in economic circles that a healthy ratio of residential to commercial is approximately 75/25. Right now we are 93 percent residential to 7 percent commercial/retail and other. Why is this pertinent to your question? The fact is we haven’t been consistent enough in our business plan regarding our zoning, our approvals. That means we haven’t been as successful in attracting what you are calling the “right” new businesses. I believe non-Waxhaw business owners shy away from Waxhaw because of our inconsistencies. So my answer is: If we regain control of our ability to be consistent, good business that fits Waxhaw will come.

2. Some residents in our community say we have traffic flow problems today. How would you mitigate those concerns or improve the current situation?

RP: In answer to your question, one cannot truly mitigate a concern. One must hit it straight on. We are in the same position that most cities and towns find themselves today. Most of our roads are not ours to change. We travel to and from our homes and public areas on State or County owned highways. We handle traffic that is not always our own. Yes, we have a voice at the county and state level but for the most part we must take more responsibility for our own planning. Let’s revisit the areas adjacent to and within our own borders, and ask how we are currently annexing in these pocket areas. Let’s enforce an overlay that better manages how and where growth happens with serious directives in place. Let’s discuss intelligent and achievable bypass options. Let’s create commercial/retail centers that consider ingress and egress. We must be more aware of the impact of future residential areas. We must not create more parking lots as a short term solution. We need to have cooperative and open dialog with our neighboring cities, and smart conversations with State and County government, and we need to be consistent with our own internal power.

3. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? 

RP: It would be irresponsible to offer you a direct answer about “one thing to change,” because that is not how I plan to help improve our zoning issues. We cannot isolate and change only zoning without a clear picture of our long term needs. One must look at things from a global perspective and understand how our Town can and should look in 10 years, 20, or even 50 years from now. Impulse zoning decisions have put us in the seat of reacting, of being inconsistent with our approvals, and of missing the chance to zone with a plan. Zoning cannot be seen as something we use as tool to reward or punish. We must know what we should and can preserve, and what we should and can move on from. We must equalize our ratio of residential to commercial/retail. We must always ask what happens next. We must think about rights, consistency, and make decisions that serve all. We must invite our citizens to be informed and share their voice with a vote for experience, commitment, and leadership.

4. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town? 

RP: Thank you for asking such an important question because this issue is pivotal to my entire campaign. In reality we already have in place the most powerful tool for our residents to be involved in the decision making process. It is called the right to vote. And, as with most powerful tools they work best when used with knowledge. How do you involve the citizens? The citizens themselves have to become involved. If you have a question on any given matter then direct the question to the appropriate Town leader. I want people to know they can and should attend public meetings, come in and talk to the entire leadership team! And then we must broadcast out the decisions we’re making for all to see. Write to or visit your Town representatives. You want to be involved? Ask, be informed, and then vote!

5. In your opinion, how do we best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere in Waxhaw? 

RP: The key to any successful plan is to define what kind of small town elements we want to preserve. I plan to have open discussions with everyone at the Town leadership level and welcome our residents’ opinions. Do we want to be pedestrian friendly? Do we want to be a foodie destination? How we state those goals makes is easier to know what to accept and what to reject. I also believe we should be a place where there are healthy places to gather, where small business owners can thrive. What is often overlooked is if you want to ‘preserve,’ you also must understand that other things must expand in order to fund what we want to keep. My strategy is to reexamine our overall Town UDO. We must look for and admit to current blind spots. Embrace the bigger picture. And recognize that we thrive only when ALL rights are taken into account, to equalize the future vision.

6. Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Waxhaw vote for your candidacy to become our next Mayor? 

RP: There are five very pointed reasons why I am the best candidate for Mayor of Waxhaw.

  1. I am willing and able to serve as Mayor full time. It is not a part time job. Part time efforts yield part time results. We need a full time Mayor.
  2. I am the only candidate with direct, recent, and comprehensive political experience with local municipalities, and experience in senior leadership positions.
  3. I do have an agenda, all leaders should, and it one of holding us all accountable to creating and then enforcing fairness in dealing with the rights of all property owners so we can create a dynamic and beautifully growing Waxhaw for years to come.
  4. It is up to the Mayor to lead and keep the town on a collective vision for the future. I will elevate fairness and principles above popularity, and seek consensus by making sure we have the facts.
  5. I understand Waxhaw’s most pressing issues. We need to rework our internal policies so that approvals are issued with the proper aesthetic conditions in place, and that include proper improvements to our Town’s infrastructure.

Overall I make all my decisions based on fact, using my vast experience, with the desire to lead with purpose!

Response from candidate Edwin Elam (referenced below as EE)

1. Do you think our downtown is healthy, successful, and offers the right amount of shopper options? If not fully satisfied, what would you do to improve it?

EE:  Historic Downtown Waxhaw is as healthy as the present administration knows how to address… My Vision for Downtown raises the bar and makes it a Weekend and Night Life Destination over the next 3 to 7+ years with More Events, Festivals while incorporating The Arts with Outside Strategic Partners that have the Contacts, Advertisers, Budgets, and Personnel to make these Events skillfully successful with Waxhaw Volunteers and other Human Resources from Free Enterprise-sector!… There is a unique challenge that no one has seen or seem to know that you can’t buy a pair of pants, a shirt or a suit (male or female) in Historic Downtown Waxhaw and this is a missing piece… I would reach around the world and transnationally to solve this challenge with my contacts and help our Historic Downtown to thrive while creating More NC Sales Tax Revenue for the Town, this formula helps small businesses and strengthens Waxhaw’s Tax Base… Finally, having been to many Historic Downtowns across the nation and around the world… I know that we Must keep citizens safe and we must begin to think about and involve structural engineers in assuring that the Town of Waxhaw has done all it can to make sure exterior structural walls or our Historic Buildings are given the right attention so we minimize the risk of their collapse which puts citizens as risk in the future due to all the movement & vibrations that were never foresaw as we have today or for the future… (i.e. train, 18-wheelers, traffic, events with pedestrians, and weather, etc.).

2. Some residents in our community say we have traffic flow problems today. How would you mitigate those concerns or improve the current situation?

EE: We do have major traffic issues and we will only have More on roads where building projects have been allowed onto existing Town Roads and State Roads that were never meant to handle the traffic we now have that face those same roads…  We have to have developers build new road infrastructure to help mitigate these issues and we must be able to allow all of our children a reflective view that we knew what we were doing when we allowed our present-day actions…  Some of what I see that has been allowed today does not meet a standard that I would have used … I find that citizens are very smart because I talk to everyone and the Town of Waxhaw’s present leadership and the people they are pushing for this election are also not known for being good listeners and that will not happen on my watch… Clicks and Special Interest are strangling Waxhaw and it has to stop!  I will engage the smart and quiet citizens and skillfully manage the loud and demanding citizens so that we can get the best from all the Town’s citizens… and have the technical-types implement people-driven solutions with their training!  You have to know that training only and no common-sense or real-life experience is not very smart for any community!

3. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? 

EE:  The Town of Waxhaw has spent so much attention in looking out for HOA Communities with pre-written standardized expectations and common-sense good quality of life concerns and yet the rest of the Town’s Neighborhoods has so many holes in the Town Unified Development Ordinance… My many emails to the Town of Waxhaw speak to these issues and due to skillfully sharing these facts, and in writing, the Town has been embarrassed that this has come from an informed citizen who knows what he is talking about.  They have gone on the attack because they don’t know how to listen…  This is unfortunate… because the Town belongs to all the people… The Town must learn to listen! I will implement initiatives that will enhance the beauty of our Town and give life to tourism initiatives that have never been addressed and that will serve 3 key points:  Volunteer Involvement, Business Development, and Community-based Planning.  I will work with the New Town Board of Commissioners to improve the quality of life for all citizens.  Every Town of Waxhaw Department will be required to talk to and listen to their boss, “The People”… The Town Board of Commissioners will help to prioritize resources and balance their decisions with feedback from “The People!” We cannot reach consensus leaving any sector of our Town out of this long-range equation!  This is what new business prospects are looking for that desire to move here from around the country and the world… You cannot imagine the challenges business already have in their day-to-day operations… but then add just this example, that half the Town has sidewalks and the other half does not… These are issues that challenge interpersonal-relationships on the job and we, as a Town, have a role to play that businesses don’t see the Town of Waxhaw understands yet!  We have to fix this!  We have to lead with all people in mind from the beginning!  Then we will prosper as One Waxhaw!  Fact!

4. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town? 

EE:  Yes I do! As Mayor of Waxhaw, I would share my plan for 33 distinct New Neighborhood Districts (a plan I have outlined as a demographics-savvy professional business developer) that will help in the New Mayor’s Action Center… and help the New Town Board of Commissioners through the New Mayor who will be out talking to the people, to show that the Town Board of Commissioner’s job is More than just setting policy!  You have to listen to “The People!”  They are our Town’s greatest resource after the youth of tomorrow and our natural resources… Anyone thinking otherwise is misinformed as to how this really works!… This is why I am running for Mayor of Waxhaw!  I can fix the mess that has been created here… And, I believe that I am the only candidate that has served as a Big City YMCA Board Chairman, (Abe Scharff YMCA Memphis, TN)  This was a branch that was closed due to “White-Flight” and while Board Chairman, I was responsible for re-opening this branch and putting it on solid leadership footing and raising the funds for sustaining gifts!  This was also the branch where BB King wrote his 8th song, which was his 1st Hit… I turned down the Personnel Director’s Job for the City of Memphis, TN @ the beginning of the Dick Hackett Administration *early 80’s to make this happen for the community… used my leverage to help the children, the community and the people!

5. In your opinion, how do we best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere in Waxhaw? 

EE:  Simple! You have to be smart in all initiatives going forward in a Town approximately 12Sq Miles wide and use the land use plan with a vision in mind, which I have seen years ahead! (No Franchise Businesses South of Blythe Mill Road off Hwy 16.2.) The Waxhaw-Parkway Corridor going East has great potential for being a unique and diverse business-mix that cannot be seen from Historic Downtown Waxhaw or vice-versa… This would strengthen our tax-base and bring an additional North/South Corridor into our Town when the Rea Road Extention is done… However, other stakeholders would need to buy in and as a 90% Closer, my skills would come in handy in selling this vision to all concerned.  Another reason I am running for Mayor of Waxhaw, I can help our Town and Community! This Election is critical in beginning these initiatives and I am ready Day 1 to lead this vision! This is God’s perfect will for my life at this time!  I know this and why some have been so challenged by my candidacy…  This is bigger than me!  I am just the man God is using for this Master Demonstration!

6. Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Waxhaw vote for your candidacy to become our next Mayor? 

EE:  I am the most informed Candidate, the Best Trained, the Most Traveled, and Connected person in North Carolina politics at this time in history to make all of this happen! I am a Professional Business Developer, I work from home, with world-class connections to also ensure that the work will be smooth … I am a Called, Educated and Trained Ordained Elder. And, I am a former Memphis Chamber of Commerce – Program Coordinator for Small & Minority Businesses.  An Initiative of then-Governor Lamar Alexander, (R-TN) – who is now a sitting US Senator, (R-TN). I am a landowner in Waxhaw & Union County and I get it!  Everything I have ever done has prepared me for this very moment to deliver for the people of Waxhaw, NC – part of Union County, NC and the Region!” I believe, together we can and will make a difference for all the stakeholders when I am elected Mayor of the Town of Waxhaw!  In fact, My Election is the Only Candidacy that would bring about the true checks and balances required for good government as the Founding Fathers intended!

Response from candidate Jon Perdue (referenced below as JP)

1. Do you think our downtown is healthy, successful, and offers the right amount of shopper options? If not fully satisfied, what would you do to improve it?

JP: Downtown Waxhaw is not only healthy, it’s a model for small towns. Shopping choices can and will change over time. I feel certain that our local business owners as well as market demand will keep shopping choices relevant.

2. Some residents in our community say we have traffic flow problems today. How would you mitigate those concerns or improve the current situation?     

JP: Traffic is a concern in most places, especially towns that have experienced growth like Waxhaw. We have a regional traffic issue, not just Waxhaw. Addressing connectivity challenges, while maintaining walkability within downtown, should be priority for Waxhaw. Working with regional partners on solutions for the bypass should be a priority for our community.

3. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why? 

JP: In relation to zoning, I’d like to propose the creation and implementation of a Unified Development Ordnance with the intent of addressing the needs of our town today and in the future. A (UDO) should be formed with citizen input while considering our local values.

4. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town? 

JP: To involve residents in the decision making process in our town, we need to enhance communication. We have more social media choices than ever, yet I find myself hunting for information. The town has the tools to streamline information out to citizens. I suggest we move from an outdated searchable database model to a model that pushes relevant information out to residents who request information.

5. In your opinion, how do we best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere in Waxhaw? 

JP: Waxhaw needs a plan to best manage growth not just for today, but for our future!  With citizen input, and a strong UDO we can plan for the future.  Actions we take today will impact our children and beyond. Our community must look at how all decisions will affect us short term as well as long term and how those decisions will impact growth, traffic, taxes, Main Street and Parks & Recreation.

6. Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Waxhaw vote for your candidacy to become our next Mayor? 

JP: The Mayor’s role is presiding at the BOC meetings, soliciting citizen views and facilitating communication and understanding between elected / appointed officials and the community.  Although the Mayor is a member of the BOC, the Mayor can and will only vote in the event of a tie.

With the roles of government in mind, I believe the Mayor should not have an official agenda. The voting Commissioners operate with an official agenda.  The Mayor’s agenda should be focused on the Town of Waxhaw Vision Statement and the very important, but often overlooked, duties of advocating for the citizens of the town while seeking and securing agreements and partnerships for the town benefit.

We are aware of the town limits and areas that will be a focus for development.  We should be looking 1-20 years out, weighing every decision and how those decisions would impact the town long term. Personal agendas and pet projects have no place in the role of Mayor.  As Mayor, my agenda will be the community’s agenda. Remember, I would work for you!!! So your opinion is the relevant opinion!

Response from candidate Bob Morgan (referenced below as BM)

1. Do you think our downtown is healthy, successful, and offers the right amount of shopper options? If not fully satisfied, what would you do to improve it?

BM: Downtown Waxhaw is thriving with barely any vacancies available for rent, which seems to answer whether Downtown is healthy, successful and offers the right amount of shopper options.

Kurt White has been doing an amazing job as Waxhaw’s Downtown Development Manager.

The Town of Waxhaw is currently improving Downtown through the TAP Grant recently received.  This will increase pedestrian walkability. There are diverse restaurants, the brewery, dessert and cupcake shops, the Waxhaw Creamery and shopping.

Waxhaw’s Parks and Recreation Department offers family activities and gatherings through local bands playing and musical programs. Next month, there will be activities offered for kids, adults and families that everyone can enjoy through our FrightNight program offered for Halloween.

2. Some residents in our community say we have traffic flow problems today. How would you mitigate those concerns or improve the current situation?

BM: It would be more accurate to say that “all Residents” in the Town of Waxhaw say that we have traffic flow problems today because Waxhaw does have traffic flow problems.

The increased population coupled with the infrastructure problems has caused these traffic flow problems.

These problems are currently being addressed through the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO) and Waxhaws engineering staff.

There is already a plan to increase the roadway with designs for traffic lights, turning lanes and additional outlets to ease the congestion.

Traffic flow problems affect every aspect of Waxhaw life. Town Staff understands the current traffic problems and is working to identify and implement the needed and necessary improvements.

Our Interim Town Manager, Erskine Smith, has listed the various Transportation Capital Improvement Projects in a suggested Order of Priority at the recent Board Work Session on 9/24/19.

The bottom line with everything is funding. This funding will have to come from the State for transportation projects and also from the town’s budget for road improvements that the state will not cover.

3. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

BM: Mr. Jeff Wells, our Planning Department Manager, and the Town’s fully staffed Planning Department is in the process of outlining and updating a Uniform Development Ordinance that aligns with our Current Comprehensive Plan.

This process will also include a much needed review and update of the Comprehensive Plan that was adopted by the Board in 2016.

There is certainly plenty of work to be done by Town Staff regarding the important planning, traffic and zoning issues that need to be addressed.

Mr. Wells and the Planning Department did such an amazing presentation to the Union County Board of Commissioners last month outlining a vision with updates for Zoning and Economic Development over a five year period and beyond for the town.

I believe the knowledge, experience and professionalism of the Planning Department will produce the correct Uniform Development Ordinance for Waxhaw’s present and future.

4. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town?

BM: In order for The Town of Waxhaw to best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere, we have to work on improving the COMMUNICATION between the Residents, the Town Staff, and the Board.

The Town Staff and Board need to hear from and speak with the Residents to determine what would be best for all of Waxhaw. The Citizens have an opportunity to regularly attend Planning Board Meetings, Board of Commissioners Meetings and every other board and committee meeting to speak and offer their opinions, suggestions and concerns.

Currently, the Town Staff is reaching out to Residents for input in Waxhaw’s Vision via the recent “Downtown Economic Vision Forum”, and ongoing “Waxhaw Growth Input Session” with the “Results Summary/ Additional Input Session” scheduled for October 24.

Once the Town Staff and Board hears and summarizes what is wanted from the Residents, it will assist them in identifying and implementing a plan beneficial to the Residents of Waxhaw.

5. In your opinion, how do we best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere in Waxhaw?

BM: Embracing Waxhaw’s Past, while Planning Strategically for Waxhaw’s Future.

6. Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Waxhaw vote for your candidacy to become our next Mayor?

BM: The Residents of the Town of Waxhaw should vote Bob Morgan for Waxhaw Mayor because he is the ONLY candidate who:

Has SERVED in Waxhaw Government;

Has SERVED in Waxhaw Government since 2010;

Is SERVING as the Chairman of the Waxhaw Planning Board;

Is an ATTORNEY with extensive experience SERVING both individual and corporate clients and REPRESENTING their interests in thousands of court hearings, trials and arbitrations;

Has lived in the same Home in Waxhaw with his wife since 2009;

Has 2 children born in Waxhaw that are attending an elementary school within the Waxhaw Town limits.

I will SERVE and REPRESENT Waxhaw with the passion and strength needed to ensure Waxhaw continues to be a place where WE can live, work and play.

Waxhaw was, is and will continue to be a FAMILY ORIENTED town.

We ALL love Waxhaw.

Waxhaw is OUR home.

Response from candidate Ericka L. McKnight (referenced below as EM)

1. Do you think our downtown is healthy, successful, and offers the right amount of shopper options?

EM: Yes, but there’s room for improvement.

If not fully satisfied, what would you do to improve it?

EM: I would provide additional parking, designated pet friendly areas, teenage retail store and vegan fast food restaurant.

2. Some residents in our community say we have traffic flow problems today. How would you mitigate those concerns or improve the current situation? 

EM: Community input by conducting a survey and hosting a town hall meeting. Our citizens drive these roads daily at different days and times so their input is valuable. And then based upon the findings, the board and I will discuss possible solutions.

3. If you could change one thing in our zoning code, what would it be and why?

EM: How the maps are drawn to identify which areas are considered within the city limits. I believe its a disadvantage to those outside of the limits who pay taxes but yet can’t benefit from what the city offers to those within the city limits.

4. How do you plan to involve residents in the decision making process in our town?

EM: I would bring more awareness to the current tools we have in place (newsletter, social media & app). In addition, to my presence in the community. I believe engaging with the citizens builds trust.

5. In your opinion, how do we best manage growth and still keep a small town atmosphere in Waxhaw?

EM: We must first acknowledge as a city that our growth is out of control. Then implement specific regulatory policies to sustain the current growth. But prioritizing our small charm environment.

6. Why should the citizens and taxpayers of Waxhaw vote for your candidacy to become our next Mayor?

EM: For the past 17 years combined, as a certified adult learning educator and diversity instructor, I have travel around the world teaching on the importance of unification. On your job, at school, at work, family, church and in business. As a licensed real estate broker/agent and licensed real estate instructor. I am responsible for helping others achieve the American dream of homeownership which requires at times a high level of people skills and confidence.

I’ve served and volunteered of several political campaigns and movements.

People have and will always be my first priority. Citizens of Waxhaw, immediate change is needed and I will get the job done!

For more information visit www.erickalmcknightforwaxhaw.com