Mann enters mayoral race
PrimeLending Senior Mortgage Banker Chet Mann, who serves on the board of directors for a number of nonprofit and business-related organizations, announced Monday his intention to seek the Sanford mayoral seat in the upcoming municipal election.
Pursuing elected office, Mann said, was the next obvious step in his desire to serve his community.
"I felt like to have a true impact and do something meaningful for the city, I need to be elected to office," Mann said. "It's the natural progression of things to run for mayor."
Mann has not previously held elected office but now serves as a Central Carolina Community College Trustee, chairman of the Lee County Education Foundation and member of the Job Ready Partnership board of directors. He has also served as chairman of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chairman of the YMCA We Build People Campaign.
"My time with the chamber really opened my eyes on how local government and business works and what the needs of the community are," Mann said. "All of those boards have prepared me to do the work of the city."
Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive wouldn't confirm if she intends to file for her third term but said she was "leaning in that direction."
"I have spoken to Mr. Mann and he has assured me if I do run, it will be a gentleman's race, and I take him at his word," Olive said.
Olive said she was humbled by the voters' confidence in her during her last eight years as mayor.
"I am honored to have been elected to this position the first time and not to have opposition the last time," she said. "It is very humbling, and I have not taken it for granted."
Olive and Mann are both registered Democrats. A proposed local bill by N.C. Rep. Mike Stone to make the municipal elections partisan could force the two into a primary.
Olive has previously spoken out against the bill, and Mann said Monday the primary would only add an extra financial burden on the city.
The proposed law would make the city and the Lee County Board of Education elections partisan, and if a primary is required, it is unclear when it would take place. The bill passed its third reading and has been referred to the State and Local Government Committee in the North Carolina Senate.
"Like everyone else I spoke to, I was very surprised by the bill," Mann said. "I didn't know they were asking for it."
In addition to his other civic contributions, Mann is a founding member of the Lee Education and Economic Development Political Action Committee (LEED PAC), "a bipartisan political organization founded by Lee County business leaders focused on sound educational and economic initiatives," according to its website. The PAC came under fire by Republicans during the previous Lee County Board of Commissioners and school board elections last year.
The organization is composed of a variety of people with a range of political ideologies, Mann said, adding that his affiliation with the organization will only help in the municipal election.
"The LEED PAC did a great job of informing the public and will continue to advocate [its priorities] in Lee County," Mann said. "So I think it will only help."
Filing for the November election begins at noon on July 5 and will continue until noon on July 19, according to Lee County Board of Elections Director Nancy Kimble.
Sanford council members Samuel Gaskins, James Williams and L.I. "Poly" Cohen all said last month they were considering filing for re-election in their respective races.