Yerby Ray runs for city council

Special To The ONE
Staff Writer

The filing period for this year’s municipal election in Newton starts at the end of this week, but the hat of one candidate has already landed in the ring.

Yerby Ray, a life-long resident of south Ashe Avenue, announced today that he will be seeking a city of Newton Council Member seat on the first day of filing for local elections.

Ray, 50, who is a permit compliance officer for the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has been interested in operations of city government for the last three decades.

“I started attending Newton city council meetings in the early 1990’s and have been following the ongoing and emerging issues ever since,” Ray said. In addition to following Newton’s municipal functions, Ray was a volunteer firefighter for the city from 1987 through 2001. He also was a member and chaired the city of Newton Parks and Recreation commission.

The candidate said that ongoing concerns about spending issues are a focal point of his council run but not exclusively. “There are additional looming issues that face our city than spending money on projects, we need to attract industry, decrease crime, help our senior citizens, and get more people involved in our city affairs,” Ray said.

“I want there to be more public discussion in our decision-making processes. The citizens of Newton needs someone on the council who will not only ask the tough questions but ask the ones that every citizen needs the answers too. It is plain and simple we need more 'sunshine,’ or dialogue so we know what is going on,” Ray announced.

“Our city continues to make decisions that are having a dramatic effect on the tax burden that is being passed on to the taxpayers,” Ray stated. “Our city tax rate is one of the highest in the county and that hurts attempts to lure new industries into the city.”

“I want to grow our city, and have a great city, but we need to do so in a responsible manner that does not overtax the citizens and has a common-sense approach. Newton needs to attract a healthy blend of industries, commercial businesses, and residential neighborhoods so the tax burden can be spread evenly. I want to be a part of a city council who will vote to spend the hard-earned tax dollars like they came out of their own wallet,” Ray noted.

“In the last two years that has been much talk about improving the infrastructure for the city but for some reason or another all of the plans have focused on the downtown area. City roads, sidewalks, water and sewer mains throughout the entire city limits need attention. Newton is more than the downtown district,” Ray added.

“I want to strengthen our fire and police services so that Newton will be one of the safest cities in North Carolina. I also would like to make sure that all of our city employees are treated fairly and compensated accordingly,” Ray said.

Ray is a life-long resident of Newton. He is a member of Trinity Baptist Church in Newton and has been an active member of the Soldiers Reunion Committee most of his life. He is married to Teasa Willis-Ray and had two daughters; Carson, age 11, and Harper, age 2. He attended Newton-Conover high school and UNC-Charlotte where he studied Political Science and History. Ray started his career as a forest ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service and then transitioned to the North Carolina Highway Patrol where he was a communications officer for 17 years. He was the CEO of the Catawba Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross and a United Way for six years before serving as managing editor of the Observer News Enterprise. He currently works for the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission.

“My entire career has been focused on helping others and I feel, if elected, that I will continue to do so in a positive way. I would like to use my experience in non-profit management to focus city spending on the priorities and I really want to see a strong city council that will lead the city and not just follow blindly,” Ray added.

“I feel the next 25 years will be some of the most important in the history of Newton and I would like to see our city grow with responsible planning. I’m not wanting this for me, but I want Newton to be a city that my daughters will eagerly want to return to when they graduate from college and start their lives,” Ray said.