Eveland wants to lead Maggie by example
Mike Eveland, manager of the Maggie Valley Inn and Rendezvous Restaurant, is running for the Maggie Valley Board of Aldermen with the goal of leading by example.
“The No. 1 thing in this campaign has to do with a positive image for Maggie Valley,” he said. “The majority of residents and business owners I’ve talked to are embarrassed, frustrated and scared. They’re embarrassed by the way the board has handled themselves, frustrated at the lack of productively and scared for the future.”
While he has never run for a public office before, Eveland said his experience in upper management with several large restaurant chains has taught him about the current economic situation in western North Carolina as well as how to work with others.
He also has served as the director of the Smoky Mountain Harley Owners, a group with more than 300 members. The group’s toy run project now helps 5,000 children a year compared to the 500 children it helped when Eveland took over.
“I like to get things done,” he said. “I have a positive outlook and a good sense of what residents are looking for,” he said.
Eveland said one thing he has noticed while attending town hall meetings for three months has been the lack of respect the aldermen have for themselves and their fellow board members.
“It’s one thing to have a difference of opinion — it’s another to disrespect each other,” he said. “Some of the issues (the town) has faced in the last year have not been earth shattering. They could have been worked out and dealt with.”
If elected, his top three goals would be to establish continuity on the board, to review and update policies and procedures and move the town forward.
When asked how he planned to accomplish those goals, Eveland said the board members needed to begin rebuilding their relationships and focus on real issues instead of getting “derailed” with personal agendas. By showing others respect, he hopes his professionalism will be contagious on the board.
“I can jostle with the best of them, but I’m going to be there to serve the people of the valley,” he said. “I will have respect and dignify and leave my personal agenda at home. It doesn’t matter whose idea it is — it’s about whether it’s the right thing to do.”
Many policy issues have come up at recent meetings, including policies regarding the festival grounds, road maintenance and annexation. Eveland said the policies should be updated to reflect the current economic climate and to protect residents and businesses in the future.
Lastly, he said the board needed a long-term vision to be able to move forward with the festival grounds, police department, infrastructure and the Moving Maggie Forward business plan.
“You can’t walk down a path if you don’t know where you’re going,” he said.
The Move Maggie Forward study was recently completed with input from the business community and has suggestions for improving the town’s economy — predominantly tourism. Eveland said there needs to be some momentum to get the plan implemented. He said the town needs to find the best vehicle for implementing the plan that would encompass the whole community. It would need to be an organization that can be inclusive of everyone for it to be successful, he said.
“I don’t know if that’s the chamber, but if it’s put in charge, it could lead to polarization,” he said. “As it evolves it will be a commercial project, but the town has to build that foundation.”
That's because the chamber is membership-based and nonmembers fear their voices may go unheard.
Eveland said some projects, like improving curbside appeal, should fall on the town’s shoulders because of the impact it will have on the local economy. He said the town could bridge the gap between residents’ and businesses’ needs by doing completing projects that benefit both. The town’s curbside appeal could be one of those things.
Eveland and two other alderman candidates, Saralyn Price and Janet Banks, have been holding meet and greet events together. However, Eveland said the three are not running on a “joint ticket” as some candidates have done in the past.
“We are not running together. We have some things we agree on, but also a lot of diversity,” he said. “We are three individuals who still have three votes and three different ideas… I’m going to vote my conscience based on experiences and discussions with constituents.”