Why should you vote for me? It’s one of the basic questions all candidates for office must answer.
The Hickory Daily Record gave candidates running for office this year the opportunity to submit articles making the case for their candidacies.
Five of the nine candidates running for Hickory City Council made submissions.
That field of nine will be narrowed by the Oct. 8 primary. The seats for wards 1, 2 and 3 are up for election.
Carmen Eckard, Ward 1
I am Carmen Eckard: wife, mother, publisher of Foothills Digest and happy resident of Hickory.
I am thrilled to raise my kids and run our businesses here, but I see problems that need to be addressed.
While our economy is recovering nicely on paper, many of our working-class people are struggling to survive and watching as their –- OUR -- communities erode. The improvements we make to Hickory need to be improvements that help everyone.
Many people I've spoken with say that they don't feel represented, and I'm here to change that. I think the most important thing in a council-style government is that the leaders actually represent the needs of their constituents.
That means listening, thoughtfully considering, then speaking boldly for them. I promise to do that and to always vote with the needs of my ward in mind.
I also promise to host annual ward meetings, so that we can share information and concerns and be better neighbors.
Hickory has a growing homeless problem that needs to be addressed.
Hickory is very giving, and if we could organize, put an end to duplication of services and give in a more cohesive way, as a community, we could be on the cutting edge of solutions.
I invite you to meet me where humanity meets reality and work to create a solution that helps our homeless population and the citizens of Hickory.
The first step is organization, and as a councilwoman, I will be at the forefront of that effort.
Tony Wood, Ward 1
My name is Tony Wood and I am running for Hickory City Council.
This is an exciting time for Hickory and I am looking forward to working with fellow citizens, council members and city staff to capitalize upon the amazing opportunities available to us while reinvigorating our economy, neighborhoods and quality of life.
I have resided in Hickory for more than 40 years, and I am passionate about our city.
My involvement in the city over the years has taught me how the city functions and it has provided opportunities for me to positively impact the community through projects like Community Gardens, Hickory City Park expansion and renovation, and the development and presentation to city council of the Hickory parks and recreation annual plans.
Being a member of city council is an enormous responsibility that requires thorough understanding of the city’s government processes, services, financial resources and obligations and fiscal policy.
My involvement in Hickory’s Neighborhood College and the six years that I served on Hickory’s Parks and Recreation Commission as member and chairperson equipped me with this understanding along with solid experience serving as a connection between citizens, council and staff.
Starting day one, I will be an informed, knowledgeable and productive member of council which will enable Hickory to keep moving forward.
My experience as a business person and the extraordinary mentors who are a part of my life taught me to develop positive, productive relationships that enable groups to accomplish goals.
This is essential to success, especially when working with others who hold different opinions and beliefs, and it is essential to good government.
We see the dissension and negativity in other political realms. Hickory deserves better.
Our city, like all others, will always have opportunities for improvement and it is imperative that we elect leaders who seek the positive approach to problem solving.
Seeking and taking the positive approach is not a matter of turning a blind eye to an undesirable situation.
It is a matter of personal and professional maturity and understanding that negativity breeds negativity, poor relationships and poor results.
I seek and embrace the positive approach to problem solving and will continue to do as a member of council.
Early in my life, I had a mentor who told me to always be aware of how my decisions, actions and interactions with others impact what people think when they see me or hear the name Tony Wood. That piece of advice drives me to be a good person in all facets of my life and it has been key to my success as an executive recruiter, husband, father and member of our community.
People work productively and accomplish goals when they work with others whom they like and trust, regardless of individual opinions and beliefs.
Through my involvement in the city and community I have shown that I am a person who citizens, fellow members of council and city staff like and trust and I will continue to do so as a member of council.
Charlotte Williams, Ward 2 (Incumbent)
It has been a humbling experience and honor to serve the 2nd Ward and all of Hickory in my council role these past 16 months. Hickory is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.
I have lived in Hickory for 25 years and raised my four sons here.
I am interested in continuing my work to enhance the quality of life in our city. This includes fostering economic development, growing our tax base, insuring public safety and providing efficient public services.
I am committed to continuing my service on the council to make sure all Hickory residents can take advantage of everything our area has to offer.
During my tenure on city council, I have been fortunate to be able to be a part of the implementation of the bond projects.
All around us we are seeing development and improvements — downtown, Trivium Industrial Park, City Walk, Riverwalk, Book Walk and streetscapes.
I want to be a part of this exciting next phase of growth and development, and see these projects to fruition.
I also want to be involved in enhancing day-to-day city services. It is vital that city council members are willing to listen and act on all citizens’ concerns.
I can assure you that I already have a track record of being responsive to those in my ward and throughout Hickory that have come to me with issues and their concerns.
I have spent my whole life in service to community, both professionally and personally. My service on the school board for two terms, my non-profit board leadership, my municipal government experience, and my current Lenoir-Rhyne position are valuable assets for my city council role.
I have seen how my background has laid the groundwork for me to effectively ask the right questions and make sound decisions.
I am hoping that you will allow me to continue in this privilege to serve as the Ward 2 city councilwoman.
Ernie Masche, Ward 2
My parents moved to Hickory when I was 6 months old.
That was the summer of 1963. I can remember some details but not many of those formative years of my life.
I remember Mom and Dad building the house that I grew up in at Route 10, Box 166. Later, it became 475 - 28th Ave. Lane NE.
No matter where I traveled, when someone asked for my address, when I started telling them, they would stop me short and say, “That’s Hickory, NC, right?”
I graduated from Hickory High in 1981 and Catawba Valley Community College in 1986. While attending CVCC, I started my own freelance photography business shooting weddings and portraits among other things.
My real passion became covering sports like local high schools, Lenoir-Rhyne College at the time, and eventually NASCAR.
I sharpened my skills, like my strong attention to detail, at Hickory Motor Speedway in the mid-1980s before moving on to the NASCAR series full-time in 1988.
My company was based in Hickory. As the business grew, we expanded to have a large studio in Mooresville so the teams and corporate sponsors could unload their cars for the shoots.
I lived the entrepreneurial dream for 23 years and had a blast doing it. I negotiated contracts and closed deals with several corporations in the top-50 of the Fortune 500.
I sold my business to stay at home in Hickory and take care of my aging parents. I could have moved any place I wanted after traveling the country for those years but I chose Hickory.
I’ve always felt that my personality and business experience would be a great asset for the City of Hickory.
In my personal life, God and my family have always been the most important to me. I pray daily for different things, including my friends and those in need.
When I toured the NASCAR circuit as a photographer, I was fortunate to meet the late Davey Allison. I believe like he said, “There was nothing that he and the Lord could not handle.”
I firmly believe that we are “One Nation Under God” and I will carry these values to city council if I’m blessed enough to be elected.
My Dad was a veteran and he taught me to always respect our leaders and our flag while remembering the sacrifices made by others for our freedoms.
I believe if we rely on these conservative principles, we will favor a greater chance of both economic and spiritual prosperity.
In closing, I have lived in Hickory and seen many changes over the years. I want to be a part of the decision-making that keeps Hickory growing for the 21st century and leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren to be proud of for many years.
I ask for your vote and support.
Lou Wetmore, Ward 2
I have lived in Hickory for 46 years, have raised my family here and owned and operated a successful manufacturing plant until its sale 10 years ago.
I consider Hickory to be the best place possible for me, my family and my friends and relatives.
Hickory has been great for me and I wish to “give something back” to this great city.
I believe that my many years of management experience and working with state and municipal representatives has given me the knowledge and skills to be an effective Alderman for Ward 2.
While serving as a North Carolina Department of Transportation board member, I spent two years working with the city, the state and the federal government to secure the funds to enable us to permanently repair the infamous Highway 70 sinkhole.
I also worked very hard and was successful to restore the eliminated funding necessary for the completion of Highway 16 to four lanes from Highway 150 to the Earnhardt Chevrolet dealership.
As I am sure you are aware, the last 9.2 mile segment of the widening of Highway 16 is underway and should be completed by mid-2020. This will give the citizens of our area a modern four-lane highway all the way from I-40 to Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte.
The experience of doing the above will stand me in good stead as far as working with the mayor, the city council and the professional staff of our city as the alderman for Ward 2.
I further believe that my previous experience on the North Carolina Department of Transportation Board will be of invaluable benefit in working with the NCDOT during the widening of Highway 321 from I-40 to Lenoir.
We all know that during construction, there will be significant disruption of commerce all along 321. My goal will be to work with the NCDOT to minimize the disruption to the extent possible.