Incumbent Fadely challenged by two political newcomers

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SILER CITY — Incumbent Commissioner Lewis Fadely is seeking reelection to Siler City’s Dist. 5 commissioner seat, facing challenges from newcomers Rayetta Fox and Jared Picot for the seat he’s held for nearly a decade.

Siler City’s municipal elections were delayed due to the postponed results from the 2020 census, which required the town to redraw their district maps. The election was then postponed again when North Carolina Democrats brought forth a gerrymandering lawsuit which brought candidate filing to a halt.

Lewis Fadely: Fadely is an attorney in Siler City and a veteran commissioner.

“As a 25-year practicing attorney, and as Dist. 5 Commissioner for the past nine years, my entire professional career has been based on serving and meeting the needs of others,” he said. “To be a successful municipal servant, you must put the collective needs of the citizens ahead of your own needs.”

If Fadely were to win his bid for reelection, he said he wants to continue to carry out Siler City’s mission and vision by “improving infrastructure, increasing availability of affordable housing and driving economic development.”

He said in order to accomplish those three goals, the town board needs to focus on addressing issues such as improving water and sewage, developing diverse representation, creating safe communities and educating the young people in town.

“In the past nine years that I have been on the board, Siler City has been focused on continuing to achieve its mission and vision statements by balancing its budget, improving our public works, police, fire and recreation departments, providing opportunities for creation of affordable housing, modifying our Uniform Development Ordinance to meet the evolving and changing needs of the town,” Fadely said.

His experience in municipal government separates Fadely from his opponents, he said, and his record as a commissioner makes him the better candidate.

“In Siler City, we have defined how the service of our municipal government and elected officials should be directed by developing and adhering to the guiding principles in our mission and vision statements,” Fadely said. “But we cannot make the mistake of sitting back on our laurels — we must remain humble, thankful and continue to work hard to fulfill our mission and vision statements.”

Rayetta Fox: Fox is a lifelong Siler City resident who’s worked at Jordan-Matthews High School for over 21 years. She didn’t respond to the questionnaire sent by the News + Record or multiple requests for interviews, but she did attend the Siler City candidate forum at First Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday. She said there she was seeking office to help bring activities for Siler City’s young people to do after school or in their free time.

“Our teens don’t have anywhere to go,” she said. “When they get out of school, they go home, they get in trouble — we need something for teens.”

Fox also talked about Siler City’s need for affordable housing in Siler City, and said if elected, she would help make Siler City a viable community.

“If I get in, I’m going to do a whole lot of changes,” she said, “because we need a lot of change here in Siler City.”

“You want the young adults to do something besides hang out on the street?” Fox asked the forum audience on Sunday. “Well, fix up a building or something for them to go to, something where they can teach kids that’s coming up so they’ll know the ropes.”

Fox said she’d like to see Siler City once again become the “amazing town” she remembers growing up in, and in turn, help to draw people back to the home they once knew.

“I know how it (Siler City) has been from the time I was little, to the time that I grew up,” Fox said. “This city used to be the best place you wanted to come and live, and now everybody is going out of town because nothing wants to come here … we need to do something for our kids, or we are going to lose everything.”

Jared Picot: Picot is a new resident of Siler City and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. He said he decided to pursue a commissioner seat shortly after moving here and hearing his new neighbors complain about problems within the town. He’s running on a “unity” ticket with three other candidates for commissioner and mayor — his brother Dean Picot II and Sam Williams for commissioner and Nick Gallardo for mayor.

“I’m running to improve their lives through adding high-pay, high-quality jobs and improving the homes and affordable housing access to this community,” Picot said.

One of Picot’s main concerns is the possibility that economic development and certain residential developments will ultimately increase the cost of rent and houses on the market, forcing families who have lived in town for years to move.

He said he wants to prevent that from happening by partnering with developers to ensure affordable housing is a part of their development plans.

“The development that’s going to come to Siler City and making sure everyone doesn’t get priced out of their homes,” Picot said.

Picot said constituents feel neglected by the current and previous town administrations. He said if elected, he’d listen to residents and work on everyone’s behalf, not just a select few.

“My understanding of municipal government is that it needs to provide resources and protect our God-given rights of liberty and the pursuit of happiness — it has not done this,” Picot said. “We need a government that is for all and not for a select few that live on the outskirts of town. We need a government that looks out for everyone no matter their station in life.”

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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