Some familiar faces and several political newcomers make up the field of candidates for Tega Cay City Council, including two incumbent council members vying for the mayor’s position. Incumbent Mayor George Sheppard declined to seek another term.
Filing for the November election closed Friday.
Former council members Chris Larsen and Rob Kirby both filed Sept. 1. They join candidates Alicia Dasch, Abigail Duval and Heather Overman, who filed in early to mid-August. Mike Mistretta filed Sept. 5 and Gus Matchunis Sept. 8.
“Chris and I went over together and filed on Friday,” Kirby said.
Kirby has served a few terms since his first council run in 1998, and said mainly he is running for the same reasons he has before.
“It’s the same thing as when I started in ’99, and it’s that I really love this place,” Kirby said. “It’s a great place to raise a family and be with friends.”
Larsen said he still has the passion and love for Tega Cay, and now more time to serve since his boys are grown. He’s been involved with getting recreation fields and other sites in Tega Cay going, and served with police and code enforcement through the years.
“I came here 22 years ago and the first thing I did was just invest my time and everything I could into the city, into trying to make it a better place,” Larsen said. “I hope I'm fortunate enough to live in this city for the rest of my life.”
He served two terms prior. Larsen said he is excited to see so many candidates, and hopes everyone is filing for similar reasons.
“I like that people get involved,” he said. “It shows the people care about this city that they want to serve in a position that there's absolutely no glory in it. I just want to keep giving to this city.”
Overman, a city resident for seven years, has a background in higher education administration and spent the last two years at home with her preschoolers. She said she appreciates the family atmosphere her city fosters.
“I love the community we're in,” Overman said. “Tega Cay is the best place to live as far as I'm concerned. We've seen a lot of changes in the past few years. I just want to put my input on it."
The small-town atmosphere is valuable, she said, even as the community grows a commercial tax base and funds needed services, such as police.
“The biggest issue and the first thing that everybody mentions every time I talk to them, is growth,” Overman said. “Growth can be a good opportunity, too. I don't want to say growth is always a bad thing.”
Dasch moved to Tega Cay in 2009. She has a dozen years experience working with the city of Charlotte in budgeting, performance management and other roles.
“We basically fell in love with Tega Cay as soon as we drove down Tega Cay Drive,” Dasch said. “We felt like we found this hidden gem.”
She since began volunteering with civic and city groups in Tega Cay. In her professional role, she has “seen a lot of things that local governments face” and believes that experience could serve her home city well.
“I’ve dedicated my career and my education to this,” Dasch said. “I can’t imagine being able to contribute to a better community than the one I’ve chosen to call home.”
Duval is a Tega Cay resident of eight years, who never moved back out of the county after earning graduate and undergraduate degrees from Winthrop University. She worked for Bank of America in technology, and now sells real estate with Allen Tate Realtors. She has three school-aged children and a wide range of volunteer roles in schools, civic and city groups.
Duval said her reason for running after a council campaign two years ago is the same as it was then.
“My passion for the city and for being an engaged citizen hasn’t changed,” she said. “My philosophy is you can’t complain about something if you aren’t going to do anything about it.”
She said it speaks volumes about the city that so many candidates are running. Duval said issues from growth to the handling of disruptive coyote and deer populations are ones a council member needs to be educated on to help may the best decisions possible.
“They run the spectrum, and I look forward to bringing thoughtful leadership to Council,” she said.
Resisting the “pressure” to match the nearby town Fort Mill in annexation and growth is one of Mistretta’s top priorities, he said in an email.
“As Tega Cay continues to receive pressure to grow with the surrounding City (sic) of Fort Mill, I want to protect our community and maintain the small town lifestyle and lake life community that Tega Cay has always offered,” he wrote. “Improving our infrastructure, amenities, and community programs as well as ensuring public safety groups are well funded and schools continue to to be a point of priority are my key objectives.”
Mistretta also wrote that, “ I am excited for this opportunity to run for City Council of Tega Cay and it is my hope that over the next couple months before elections that I not only get to know more about (residents), our neighbors, and (their) concerns but also gain (their) confidence in me to represent (them) for our amazing city. It is my mission to help keep our city great, while still addressing the issues that come with a growing economy and area.”
Matchunis could not be interviewed by press time.
Dottie Hersey and David O’Neal, both current council members, are running for mayor. Hersey’s seat on council is up for election, meaning she either will become mayor or sit out council service at least until the next election. O’Neal won’t see his term expire this year. If he becomes mayor, a special election will be held for his council seat, or he will keep it.
The general election is Nov. 7.