UNION — District 6 Union City Council candidate Sonja Craig says that if she’s elected in November she will work to implement an idea suggested to her by the residents of her district on how to save the city money
Craig, who first ran for the District 6 seat in the June 5 special election, said that while campaigning for the Nov. 6 general election, the residents she spoke with presented her with an idea that they believe could help the city save money. She said that after considering the idea, she believes it is feasible and should be implemented by the city.
“I was going around talking to some constituents and I was riding in a golf cart and they thought I was a meter reader,” Craig said. “They told me they thought it would be a great idea to save money with the price of gas being what it is if the city got their meter readers electric vehicles like the one the police use on Main Street.
“I thought it would be a great idea also, if feasible,” she said. “Thinking about it, I think it would be feasible in the more populated areas of the city.”
In her first campaign, Craig emphasized the need to address Union County’s high unemployment rate, which at the time stood at 13.5 percent. As of August, the county’s unemployment rate was 14.7 percent, and Craig said this makes it even more imperative that council work to attract industry and promote job growth.
Craig said that part of attracting industry to Union is making Union attractive to industry. She said this involves beautifying the community, particularly the entrance on U.S. 176.
“Coming into town on 176 looks terrible,” Craig said. “The grass is awful and we have nothing that is appealing.
“When you come through the Pacolet area, however, everything looks pristine,” she said. “The grass is neatly cut and they have blooming bushes up there that look really nice all summer. I think it would be nice to have something like that to show people we’re really proud of our city.”
In addition to beautifying the entrance to the city, Craig said she will also work to secure grants for sidewalk repairs and other infrastructure improvements to beautify the rest of Union. She said this will make the city even more attractive to industry.
Though she has not been a member of council, Craig said she supports a number of the actions it has taken in recent months including the refinancing of some of Union’s municipal bonds. Refinancing the bonds will save the city more than $600,000 in bond payments and free up nearly another $1 million in debt service funds. She said she hopes to see the city use those funds for infrastructure improvements that will help make Union attractive to industries like Gestamp, ESAB and Gonvauto.
Craig said the Work Ready Community resolutions passed by city council, Union County Council, the Union County Board of School Trustees, Union County Chamber of Commerce, and Union County Development Board are another important step in making Union attractive to industry. The goal of the Work Ready Community program is to develop a trained, nationally certified workforce that can be used to market Union County to new industry and to help retain existing industry.
“I think Work Ready is going to help us get industry in here,” Craig said. “I’m very impressed with the program and support council’s decision to participate in its implementation. It’s going to be a good thing for this community and I will work to get it implemented.”
As she did during her first campaign for council, Craig pointed out that District 6 includes much of the downtown area of Union, which she said must be revitalized through the development of small retail and service businesses, and the promotion of tourism.
“There are still so many vacant buildings in the downtown area which must be filled in order to make our city flourish again,” Craig said. “We need to encourage young entrepreneurs to open bakeries, restaurants and small shops. This will be one of my goals if I’m elected.”
Craig said tourism is another element in the revitalization of the downtown area and the rest of Union. She said the Union County Museum is already major draw for tourism and she wants the city to promote it along with the many historic homes in the downtown area.
“By bringing tourists into the downtown area we bring money into the local economy,” Craig said. “This can help attract new business to the downtown area which will drawn even more people with money to spend to Union.”
Public health is another area Craig said she wants to address on council. She said the spread of the West Nile virus could pose a health risk to the people of Union, especially the elderly and the very young.
“The city used to spray for mosquitoes,” Craig said. “With the spread of the West Nile virus, I think we need to go back spraying. There are sprays on the market that don’t hurt people like they used to. We should start spraying again to prevent West Nile from becoming a problem in our community.”
Craig is a native of Shelby, N.C., who spent most of her early life in California where she graduated from Aviation High School in Redondo Beach. She holds a degree in electronics drafting from El Camino Jr. College in Torrance, Calif. While living in California she worked for TRW Systems. In 1977 she moved to Union and has since worked in the textile industry for companies such as Conso, CPE and Green Textile until her retirement. She and her husband Charles have two children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
“Union was a great place to live when I moved here with my family in 1977 and that’s the reason why we moved here from California,” Craig said. “Our children could have some freedoms here they couldn’t have living in a large city in California. This is still a very safe place to live, I have no qualms about going out at night to the grocery store or to Walmart. It’s still a great place to live, I love it here and I want to help keep it that way.”
Craig is facing incumbent councilman Jim Wilson.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.