Mayoral ballot set with three candidates

Michael Bragg

The filing period at the Watauga Board of Elections office officially closed at noon Friday with two more candidates entering the Boone mayoral race.

Brad Harmon, who helps run Harmon’s Dixie Pride at 471 W. King St., and John Joseph Mena, owner of Haircut 101 at 174 Depot St., were last to announce their candidacy as Boone Town Councilman Andy Ball had filed July 5.

Harmon’s family has been in Boone for several generations. He graduated from Watauga High School in 1982 and moved to Marion where he served his community as a corrections officer and volunteer firefighter. 

Harmon moved back to Boone in 2009. Harmon has also worked on the town parking committee for three years. 
“I’m business-minded and I think of the people as family,” he said.

Harmon said some of the biggest concerns he recognizes are student safety, calling for security cameras on the streets and a “continued relationship” between the town and Appalachian State University and eliminating closed sessions in town government.

“I want to listen to the people and carry that into town council,” Harmon said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of what is to come and to see if I can make a difference.”

Mena has been a business owner in Boone for 24 years and says that he is tired of political divisions acting as roadblocks for the town’s progress.

“I feel that this town is worth a lot more time, energy and effort than has been put into it,” Mena said. “I’m not a career politician. I win this election, I’ll do it for four years and I’m out.”

Mena said his plan would call for changing Boone’s Unified Development Ordinance to allow for housing development within town limits in order to increase the tax revenue base. Additional funding from this change, he said, would allow for improvements to a faltering water and sewer infrastructure.

Mena said he hopes to bring in more businesses to the area so that graduating students from Appalachian wouldn’t have to go down the mountain to find employment.

“There’s a lot we can get done if we work together synergistically,” Mena said.

Mena also said he sees Appalachian as a huge resource for Boone and wants to utilize it by allowing students to come up with planning ideas rather than paying an outside consultant.

“The quote that I really want to sum up my campaign is from FDR,* ‘Do what you can where you are with what you have,’” Mena said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I’m willing to work my ass off to get those answers.”

Ball said that he had contacted each of his opponents to congratulate them on filing. He said that all the candidates had agreed to run “substantive, issue-based” campaigns.

Ball, who said he has known Harmon for three years and Mena for eight, said he is still the best choice.

“I don’t think that any other candidate offers the experience that I have,” Ball said.

*Correction: The Appalachian incorrectly stated that Boone mayoral candidate John Mena said the quote to sum up his campaign was from FDR when in fact he correctly identified it as a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. The Appalachian apologizes for this error.

Story: JOSHUA FARMER, Managing Editor