2021 Candidate Questionnaire – Town of Huntersville

Get ready for Election Day and meet the candidates running for office in Huntersville. 

Each candidate running for election in 2021 in the Town of Huntersville was provided a five-question survey to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the verbatim responses we received, grouped by question.  

(From left) Jenn Davis and Patrick Chance Thomas, both running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville. Candidate Dan Boone did not submit a photo.

 

1. Personal Perspective 

Can you tell us about a time arts, science, or history helped you connect with your community? 

DAN BOONE: As an original member of the Olde Huntersville Historic Society, we have had many project that have connected us to the Huntersville Community.  The first was the Huntersville old library followed by our effort is saving the caboose and naming of the Veterans Park stage “Ice House.”  If you have a chance check out the restoration of the oldest building in Huntersville.  Old Jail on Gilead Rd.  OHHS won a Mecklenburg County award for the restoration. 

JENN DAVIS: I was fortunate to work with some local citizens to raise money, furnish, and install an Aquaponics system for Phoenix Montessori. Aquaponics is an excellent demonstration of science. It is a farming technique whereby the nutrient rich aquaculture water is fed to the hydroponic plant. The experience was amazing. Here is an article published by the Lake Norman Citizen in 2018   https://www.lakenormanpublications.com/articles/students-at-phoenix-montessori-learning-about-aquaponics/ 

PATRICK CHANCE THOMAS: Art has always been a positive outlet for me, and a place to focus positive creative energy. I come from a family with a long line of artists: My Grandmother, Father, Uncle, myself and my brother and even my daughters.   Art has always been, and always will be a part of my life.     My interests in writing, painting, photography, sculpture and lapidary arts allowed me to connect with the people in my community who have those same common interests. Without art, I may not have made those connections which have survived both time and distance.      Art has a unique ability to connect us all- regardless of its discipline or format – it’s the one area that can transcend differences and create positivity through its appreciation. 


2. Arts & Culture Priorities

ASC’s 2020 Community Priorities Survey, conducted in partnership with UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, gathered input from over 1,900 county residents reflecting a wide range of community voices (racial, ethnic, age, socioeconomic, geography, etc.). The top priority for both North (41%) and South (37%) Mecklenburg residents was support for nonprofit arts, science, and history organizations to ensure sustained, high-quality programs and community outreach. Other top responses include celebrating diverse cultures and neighborhoods and using arts, science, and history programming as a tool to address complex community issues. Further, the Imagine 2025 Cultural Vision Planincluded Town Hall visioning sessions that found that North and South Mecklenburg residents rated their desire for activities closer to home at a very high level, 88% and 86% respectively. 

Entering Fiscal Year 2022, the City of Charlotte overhauled its approach to cultural funding, divesting from ASC and partnering with Foundation For The Carolinas and Charlotte’s private sector to “restore the health of uptown Charlotte” and provide “cultural and educational opportunities for visitors to Charlotte as well as residents” (Charlotte Business Journal, May 3, 2021).  As a result, ASC ended its largest grant making program, Operating Support grants that supported large, mid-sized and small organizations (including Carolina Raptor Center, Davidson Community Players, Matthews Playhouse of the Performing Arts, and Mint Hill Arts).  While the city creates its cultural plan, a commitment has been made by the city to fund those groups for this fiscal year.  It is important to understand that ASC will continue to support those organizations, along with new and emerging groups and creative individuals, through other ASC grant programs and capacity building efforts. To learn more about Artist Support Grants, Cultural Vision Grants, Culture Blocks, Emerging Creators and Creative Renewal Fellowships, School Funding Opportunities (currently on hold due to public funding cuts), and Technical Assistance Grants, click here.

ASC’s aim is to serve all residents of Mecklenburg County, the city of Charlotte and the six suburban towns, by providing free, high quality cultural programming that is diverse, relevant, resident-informed, and available to all. We intentionally center community, start with partnership (create with, not for), and advocate for equitable distribution of government funds. In each of the six towns, ASC cultivates experiences and cultural programs that engage residents, increase access, and foster community. 

How will you work to creatively address community issues, celebrate our culturally diverse neighborhoods, and bring cultural activities closer to home? What are your arts and culture priorities for your town, and how do you intend to pursue those priorities if elected? (ex: advocate for increased investment, attend cultural events or Culture Blocks programs, volunteer to sit on a grant review panel, or connect with your town’s appointees to ASC’s Advisory Councils) 

DAN BOONE: I am on the Board for Hugh Torance House and Store,  8231 Gilead rd. Huntersville.  We have completed refreshed the HT store and will be opening the store for tours this Fall.  The Old Huntersville Historic Society is working on a “walking app” for historic sites in down town Huntersville.  Our plan is to expand the program to include ALL historic church’s and historic homes in our area.

JENN DAVIS: As a current Planning Board member, I spend much of my time working on re-zonings and new projects. In addition to the Planning Board the town of Huntersville has a great Parks and Rec. department with their own committee members. Their focus is to work with the arts council and collaborate with the Town Board to bring programs to the town. If elected to the Town Board I will work with the sub committees to enrich our arts and cultural programs.  

PATRICK CHANCE THOMAS: If elected, I would propose an Art Fair / Festival to be hosted in Huntersville.   A two or three day event occurring once a year that would provide an outlet for Local and National Artists to display and sell their arts and crafts.  Hosted in an area of town that is easy to access and will also provide the greatest boost to the local economy.   Events such as these can create opportunities for small businesses to expand and grow while bringing people together.     I would also like to designate areas for art around town- such as a sculpture garden and places near the downtown area that art can be viewed an displayed.  


3. Commitment to Cultural Equity 

Community Ties: Understanding What Attaches People to the Place Where They Live, an in-depth study published by the Knight Foundation and Urban Institute in May 2020, reports that a community’s residents’ access to arts and culture not only boosts feelings of satisfaction and lifestyle fit, but also correlates with greater investment of time and resources in that community. This investment metric includes participation in local activities, attending public meetings, owning a home or local business, donating, and volunteering. 

Easy access to arts and cultural activities is reported by people in low-income households less frequently (67%) than by those in high-income households (78%). Additionally, only 64% of African American residents and 66% of Hispanic residents report easy access to arts and culture, compared to 74% of white residents and other racial and ethnic groups. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg metropolitan area, arts and cultural activities are perceived as the fourth most difficult quality feature to access in our community, after affordable housing, transit options, and job opportunities. 

ASC recognizes that systemic, inequitable access to opportunity has led to generations of unjust outcomes for those who have been historically marginalized in mainstream arts and cultural funding, discourse, leadership and resource allocation. We strongly encourage all who serve or seek to serve our community to read ASC’s inauguralCultural Equity Report, which reflects the steps – and missteps – we have taken on our journey to becoming a more equitable organization and holding ourselves accountable to the community.  

How will you join ASC in actively addressing inequities in access to arts and culture? How do you view ASC’s equity work in alignment with your town’s goals around cultural equity? 

DAN BOONE: I would start with the closed Latta Plantation.  This property needs to be re-marketed and refurnished for all the citizens of Mecklenburg county.  My goal as a commissioner is to preserve the past as we plan for the future.

JENN DAVIS: [Skipped this question.] 

PATRICK CHANCE THOMAS: I would explore a renovation of the Huntersville Arts and Cultural Center. It is currently in an aged building that is in need of a facelift.  Updating the cultural center to make it more visible and appealing to all cultures will increase its current and future utilization.   


4. COVID-19 Impact, Recovery and Renewal 

ASC’s 2020 COVID-19 impact survey showed that more than 90 percent of local artists have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and experienced a loss of income. Charlotte-Mecklenburg arts and culture organizations receiving Operating Support through ASC experienced revenue losses between March 2020 and June 2021 totaling $49.7 million. Not only has the financial impact of COVID-19 on the sector restricted capacity to serve residents, it has also deeply impacted the livelihood of Mecklenburg’s creative workforce and the economic future of local creatives and cultural sector employees. 

Mecklenburg County’s COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force’s proposed recommended actionsinclude increasing support for artists and the organizations that support them (expand Culture Blocks funding for artist employment; community arts centers in challenged areas; increase ASC funding for arts equity, inclusion, access; develop strategy for artist housing), prioritizing cultural awareness (expanded diverse worker recruitment, cultural competency training, patient service and cultural survey, culturally based health education modules), and empowering people with information through health-themed neighborhood art. Other recommendations include expanded mental health support and resources for substance abuse treatment and care, both of which are community needs heightened by the pandemic and which ASC supports through cultural programming. 

As a town official, how will you consider, utilize, and support the workers of the cultural sector at this critical intersection of health, economy, and community? Which of the Mecklenburg COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force’s proposed recommendations align with your goals as a civic leader? 

DAN BOONE: If elected, I will support all workers which includes the cultural sector as we move forward in planning for the community in which we live.

JENN DAVIS: [Skipped this question.] 

PATRICK CHANCE THOMAS: If elected, I promise to adamantly oppose any and all shutdowns. Shutting down an economy hurts everyone. Small businesses were impacted the hardest by the shutdowns.  Therefore, I support reasonable and responsible guidelines to get us through the pandemic.     I agree with the task force focus on the economy- however, I do not agree with increases in funding without strict oversight, – look no further than the Western District of NC which is currently prosecuting a multitude of PPP fraud cases that could have been avoided with prevention protocols in place. 


5. Per Capita Funding 

In 2014 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Cultural Life Task Force developed research-based recommendations for specific actions to establish long-term support for and healthy growth of our community’s cultural sector. One of these recommendations was that Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville increase their investment in Arts & Science Council to $1.30 per capita. Analysis of municipal funding allocations in Fiscal Year 2018-2022 shows that the six towns’ average per capita annual investment in the work of ASC ranges from $1.06 per resident to five cents per resident (Davidson – $1.06, Matthews – $0.85, Pineville- $0.84, Mint Hill – $0.36, Cornelius – $0.22, Huntersville – $0.05). ASC is committed to serving residents in each corner of the County in a balanced, equitable manner, but receives objectively imbalanced funding support from town to town. 
To what extent do you support public funding of arts, science and history programs through town funding to the Arts & Science Council?  Will you support a plan to increase municipal funding for ASC’s work to $1 per town resident; why or why not? 

DAN BOONE: I can not support a $1.00 per resident.  Support funding for the Arts should be private investment.  My question to you is if we fund ASC at $1.00 per Huntersville resident which equals $65,000 how much of those funds come back to Huntersville.  We might want to look at something less the your ask.  Keep in mind …….what’s the federal government going to do for the non-profits. 

JENN DAVIS: [Skipped this question.] 

PATRICK CHANCE THOMAS: When it comes to increases in funding for art related projects, there needs to be a benefit that is created and recognized by the community.  It is important to articulate exactly what the art, science and history programs will consist of- because not everyone will appreciate paying for something they are not benefiting from or that they disagree with.    Successful community involved projects create a natural response to preserve them- I would like to see those funds raised through individual preservation initiatives. 


The following candidates up for election in the Town of Huntersville did not submit a response: 

Melinda Bales, running for Mayor, Town of Huntersville 

Jill Swain, running for Mayor, Town of Huntersville 

Taylor Brock Hutto running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Rob Kidwell, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Amber Kovacs, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Lance Munger, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Derek L. Partee, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Stacy Phillips, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Nancy M. Reed, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Eric Rowell, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Joe Sailers, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

Nick Walsh, running for Commissioner, Town of Huntersville 

 

 

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