This article was published in the Lenoir News-Topic; part of a series introducing candidates for city/town council in mayor in the eight municipalities in our county. To put the series together, I interviewed 45 candidates by phone.

In Granite Falls, six candidates are running for three seats on the town council, including two incumbents. Councilman Max McRary is not seeking re-election.

Current mayor Barry Hayes, who has held the office for four terms, is being challenged by current Councilman Jim Mackie.Barry Hayes

Hayes, 65, has served four terms as mayor and was a town councilman for 14 years before that.

Hayes said the economy is still the most important issue facing Granite Falls, and he wants to continue working with the county, the Caldwell Economic Development Commission and the state to bring jobs to the town and ready its infrastructure for industry.

“I take my office as mayor very seriously, and I am honored to be the mayor of my hometown,” Hayes said. “We are a good people who believe in themselves and each other, and I ask for the support of my fellow townspeople as I seek to serve them again.”

Hayes is the owner of Hayes Chemical Co. He is also a deacon and Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church of Granite Falls, the vice chairman of the Communities in Schools board and vice chairman of the N.C. Municipal Power Agency Number 1.

Jim Mackie

Mackie, 70, has served on the Granite Falls Town Council since 2011.

Mackie said he’s most concerned about making sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, about the town’s aging infrastructure and about citizens’ engagement with local government. He said he chose to run for mayor because he believes voters should have choices at all levels of government – federal, state and municipal.

“We live in a country that has democracy,” Mackie said. “I have no political agenda other than to represent the taxpaying citizens of Granite Falls.”

Mackie is retired and is a Marine Corps veteran, a Communities in Schools volunteer at Granite Falls Middle School and a member of the Lions Club, the town’s veterans memorial committee and the First Methodist Church of Granite Falls.

Bradley Bell

Bell, 24, has not previously served in an elected office.

Bell said he has lived in Granite Falls for some time now and knows many of its people, and would like to be more involved in the community.

“I’d be a younger view on the community – a younger, more fresh perspective,” Bell said.

Bell recently graduated with an associate’s degree from Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute. He works as a physical therapy assistant and is a managing partner at City BBQ in Granite Falls.

Caryl B. Burns

Burns has served on the Granite Falls Town Council since 1997.

Burns said she is most concerned with continuing to provide services to the town’s citizens while maintaining the tax rate. She emphasized that Granite Falls is a “full-service” town, providing fire, police, water and power to its citizens. She said she is also concerned with continuing improvements to the town’s infrastructure, including its water and sewer lines.

“This is my home community, and of course I’m very interested in it making progress and remaining the wonderful community it has been through the years,” Burns said. “And we’ve gone through some very difficult times, economic situations and so forth, so it’s a learning process.”

Burns is the associate superintendent for educational program services for the Caldwell County Schools. She is also a member and past president of the Granite Falls Rotary Club and the organist for the First Baptist Church of Granite Falls. She previously worked as a teacher at Granite Falls High School, the principal of Granite Falls Middle and the pricipal of South Caldwell High.

Marc Church

Church, 31, has not previously served in a local elected office.

Church is from Granite Falls. He said he has several family members who have served the town, on the town council and otherwise, and feels a similar need to give back.

“I truly feel a need to give back to Granite Falls and provide a leadership role to grow the community,” Church said. “I’m extremely excited.”

Church works as an account executive for UPS. He played baseball for Wingate University for four years.

Marshall Hiatt

Hiatt, 66, has not previously served in a local elected office.

He said he wants to use his background in education and the military to help find solutions for Granite Falls. He said with its proximity to a major airport, water resources and other industries — including data centers in neighboring municipalities — the town should be “a beacon for clean industries.”

“I think what I would like to do for the citizens of Granite Falls is try to ensure that they get value for their tax dollar and that there is smart growth for the town,” Hiatt said.

Hiatt is retired and served for 20 years in the United States Air Force. He holds two master’s degrees, in economics and logistics management, and has worked as both a lecturer at the University of Maryland and an over the road truck driver. His hometown is Mount Airy.

Frank Mackie

Mackie, 71, has served on the Granite Falls Town Council since 1981.

Mackie said he’s proud of the town’s efforts, through acquisition and rezoning, to bring several new businesses to Granite Falls during his time on the council – including Walmart and McDonald’s.

“I just enjoy serving the town,” he said.

Prior to his retirement, Mackie worked as a director of human relations in the manufacturing industry. He has served for seven terms on the town council, currently serves on the town’s veterans memorial committee and is a U.S. Army veteran.

Martin “M.D.” Townsend

Townsend, 66, has not previously served in a local elected office.

Townsend said he believes every issue the town faces is important, and he believes his years of business experience would be an asset in helping the town face those issues.

“So many times we sit back and criticize or second-guess the decisions our officials make,” Townsend said. “I think we should get involved by volunteering or running for an office in order to try and make our community a better place.”

Townsend works in printing sales and is also a member of the First United Methodist Church of Granite Falls, the South Caldwell Christian Ministries board of directors, the town’s veterans memorial committee and the Lions Club. He is a past president of the Caldwell County Lions Association and helped charter the South Caldwell High School Athletic Boosters Club.