Candidates for the Town of Matthews

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

Each candidate was provided a questionnaire to complete and share their position on arts and culture. Below are the responses we received.

Things to know before you go vote

Larry Whitley

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Mayor

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I was part of the drama team growing up in high school.

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My vision for Matthews is to have a art friendly town which it already is but to add more in the future

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

yes I do art, science, history plays a very important part of owner town and must be funded.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

yes I do

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

I was also an Art student in college so my love for art is make sure it continue to grow and funded.

Norah Burke

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Board of Commissioners

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I’ve had many meaningful experiences with art, science, and history, but one that stands out for me at the moment was my first experience acting in a middle school play. I was, to that point, a shy, quiet child, but I threw myself into the role of kooky old lady in an Addams Family spoof. It was thrilling to be on stage in front of an audience, and it encouraged me to take more risks and step out of my comfort zone. It also lead to future roles as The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz and the wizard Jafar in Aladdin (and some concern I was starting to be typecast…). I’ve carried that experience with me my whole life, and I think back to it every time I take on a new challenge.

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

My vision of Matthews is one that maintains our small town feel by having a comprehensive, community focused plan for growth. This includes preserving our historic downtown and heritage sites in our town, funding for more programs at the theater and arts center, and programs encouraging STEM learning through our parks and recreation department. Our community prospers when we have engaged, well rounded citizens, and I will be a part of creating an environment that fosters that kind of personal growth.

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

Yes. I believe we have a duty to provide community support to these programs, as that investment is returned in the form of thoughtful, engaged, well rounded citizens.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

Yes. Both in the creation of new facilities and in the improvement of existing facilities.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Aside from funding for the arts and cultural sector, I would pursue the development of new programs for our community and better marketing for the programs that do exist so we can demonstrate that they are things the community both wants and needs through increased attendance.

Allen Crosby

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Board of Commissioners

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

This is a tough question. I love history. Throughout my child hood I had so many great experiences with learning about our history. I’m split between three. The first was going to the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer NC. Looking at the old trains, and climbing up into the cockpits made these relics come alive. It created my interest in transportation and that was where I first wanted to make NC the train capital of the world. The second was going to the Highland games in Waxhaw. My linage is Scottish in the Clan Stwewart. It was a profound experience being connected to other members of the Stwewart clan. Despite the thousands of miles of separation, the music, dance, traditional sports, and a tartans linked what would be complete strangers to a rich culture and heritage. The third was when I wrote a letter to our mayor at the age of six. In the letter, I asked if Matthews could build a museum. At the time, I had no idea what to put in it, I just wanted a place to go to. The mayor wrote back and invited me to the opening of the Matthews Community center, a museum of art, performance, and history. It was neat as a six-year-old to know that people cared about history as much as I did.

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

I want our town to be the sum of its history. A place where the old and new meet in harmony. Teaching history and creating places where citizen can go to learn about their past. The only way to really appreciate the world we live in is to know how it was built. The study of art, history, and science is only way to create a world worth living in.

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

I believe that a government is the sum of the community. Therefore, a governmental body has some responsibility to document, acknowledge and preserve our history. It is also the duty of the citizen to preserve their history for the next generation. When it comes to funding I believe we should always look to the private sector first. The funds are more plentiful and can be used more efficiently and directly. Government funding should only be used to fill in the cracks when needed.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

In a general sense, yes. In an ideal world, I would prefer not to use public funds. But if public funds must be used I think it is important to review each project individually, to make sure that the public funds are being spent efficiently and will benefit the lives of the tax payers.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

I want to create an environment where access to history and art is available. I want to incentives the private citizen to invest in then. The best way to do that is to provide a culture of spending and growth. Low tax rates providing extra income combined with incentives to give to the arts should grow the creative economy. The town will provide the structure and direction of that growth.

Christopher L. (Chris) Melton

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Board of Commissioners

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I will always remember our elementary school field trip to see the Charlotte Symphony at Ovens Auditorium because it was my first exposure to the arts. The venue seemed larger than life and I had never seen (or heard) an orchestra!

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

One of the 12 key vision statements for the Town of Matthews, which were developed by our citizens, include that Matthews become a destination for arts and culture. Arts and culture are woven in to the fabric of what makes our community attractive to citizens and visitors alike and plays a major role in multiple Matthews community events.

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

I have voted for and support funding for ASC and have previously voted for an increase in our annual contribution.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

Most certainly

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

I would continue to personally support and advocate for the vitality and growth the arts community in Matthews. Presenting supportive fact based research and data.

Jeff Miller

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Board of Commissioners

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

I am an Artist. As an Executive Chef, I carved many Ice Sculptures, Fruit & Vegetable Carvings. Seeing the finished product is a better feeling than the Paycheck.

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

Matthews has many Murals throughout the Town. I was a proponent of Art on the Greenway. We won a Region of Excellence Award from Centralina Council of Governments for that. I will continue to promote Public Art in Pocket Parks and Public Parks.

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

Yes; Matthews has continued to partner with ASC.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

Yes, we are very fortunate to have the Matthews Playhouse here in Town at the Fullwood Theater.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

Continue to support the Arts thru Ticket Sales, Public & Private Sector Support and thru Advisory Committees.

Dimple Shah

2017 Candidate for Town of Matthews Board of Commissioners

Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts), science or history while growing up and its impact on you.

As a child, I was exposed to a variety of arts. I tried ballet and realized I get dizzy too easily, so I quit. I tried piano, but couldn’t sit still long enough to practice, so I quit. Tried a school play, but was too shy to go on stage. Tried painting but didn’t like getting my hands dirty. Finally, my parents put me in Indian cultural dance class and said no matter what, I was not going to quit. Reluctantly, I tried…I didn’t like it at first. The outfits were itchy, my feet wouldn’t coordinate, I still felt dizzy, and continued having stage fright… but I didn’t give up this time. After a few months, those things fell into place and I grew my “wings.” I enjoyed it, not only the dancing, but the camaraderie of other Indian girls living life as Americans outside the dance studio, but coming together as Indians once a week to maintain a small part of our Indian culture. Maintaining parts of my Indian heritage continues today. I still dance, not often but during annual during cultural programs and weddings. Now, my boys do Indian dancing too! They enjoy it now… but didn’t at first.

What’s your vision for the town? What role, if any, does art, science and history play in advancing that vision?

I am hopeful that I can bring some common sense ideas straight from the people to Matthews Town Council. Matthews has a historic and thriving downtown that I am fighting to preserve. I want to make pedestrian and bike traffic safer within our town to promote sustainability. That’s how our local businesses can continue to thrive, promoting further economic development. I also want to advance efforts to recognize our culturally diverse community. There is no woman currently on town council, and I would like to be Matthews first Asian-American woman commissioner. We are lucky to have the Matthews Heritage Museum and many local historic landmarks, and I want people to become aware of our rich history. We are also home to a diverse community of citizens. The Town recently established a Cultural Diversity Council, and I would like to work with them to engage our town with our diverse community. I envision a Multi-Cultural Arts Festival that celebrates the diversity in Matthews, where citizens of other cultures can share their art, music, food with others in the community. When people can come together to share and learn together, we can find common ground and understanding with one another.

Do you support public funding of arts, science, history, and heritage programs by your town through funding of ASC? Please explain.

Yes, I do. I would love to see a collaboration between Matthews and ASC to fund more heritage, history, arts and science programs. This is an important part of what makes a community grow together. I would love to parter with CMS also to bring these programs into our schools.

A key finding in past cultural plans was the need for facilities outside of downtown Charlotte to support cultural programming and community events and programs. Would you support the continued partnership between the public and private sectors in addressing these needs and the use of public funds to support capital projects?

Yes, absolutely! In Matthews, we are fortunate to have many venues for cultural programs available… Reid House ( a historically preserved home), Levine Senior Center, and Matthews Playhouse to name a few. Cultural programs and events have taken place here, and I would like to see more. I would support a partnership to continue more programs to enrich our community.

National research shows that the arts and cultural sector contributes to quality of life and economic stability. What strategies would you pursue to ensure the continued vitality and growth of the creative economy in our region?

I am proud to say that Matthews is home to many creative people. We also have a Arts Gallery that is open to the public that offers many classes, even free art class for Veterans. Starting next year, our Crestdale Middle School will be the only CMS magnet school in the south Charlotte area for the arts. We also have local painting and pottery businesses. These are great avenues to pursue arts in our town. I want to see continued growth in the arts. I’d like our art community to partner with our schools and students to provide a real-world education. I’d like to bring more diverse cultural art festivities into our area, partnering with schools, local artists and people in our community to share various talents. By collaborating with our talented Matthews community, I hope to grow the creative economy of the Matthews area.


The following candidates for the Town of Matthews did not submit a response: 

Paul Bailey, Candidate for Mayor

Barbara Dement, Candidate for Board of Commissioners

Sebastian Feculak, Candidate for Board of Commissioners

John F. Higdon, Candidate for Board of Commissioners

Kress Query, Candidate for Board of Commissioners

John Urban, Candidate of Board of Commissioners

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