THOMASVILLE — Councilman Joe Leonard announced his intentions this week to file for the office of mayor in Thomasville.
Leonard, who is serving his eighth year on council, said he has heard from many residents in the community who have encouraged him to run for mayor. His aim, he says, is to improve the city’s infrastructure and make Thomasville more business-friendly.
“We need to have a representative in the city itself that will seek out industry and business,” Leonard said. “We need to see if we can’t get senior citizens to move here.”
Leonard’s brother Hubert, a World War II veteran, previously served as mayor of Thomasville. Joe Leonard said he learned a number of things he would like to adopt from his brother’s time as mayor and some things he would not replicate.
The Leonards started the North Carolina Memorial Day Parade and Ceremony, which is now one of the largest of its kind in America. Joe Leonard was part of the All-America City team that traveled to Denver, Colorado in 2013 to receive an honor as one of the cities selected as an All-America City.
Joe Leonard has said in prior council campaigns that he supports three primary issues he believes to be facing the city. Street conditions, holding owners of unsightly buildings accountable and completing tasks without a tax increase are the principles that have shaped each of his runs for public office.
The councilman addressed the condition of abandoned buildings in the city last week, commenting on now-defunct Thomasville schools.
“After the burning of Kern Street School … we’re going to have to do what we have to do to get these [vacant] properties condemned,” Leonard said. “We’ve already got Church Street that has stood here for 20 years, the remnants of it, which is a disgrace. Now we’ve got another in Kern Street that the city is going to have to deal with, as well as another on Taylor Street.
“You see about 70% of the rental property in Thomasville who don’t even live here. The only interest they have is collecting that rent. If we ever, one time, start coming down on those and basically bring them up to standard or either foreclose on them, the message will go out and a lot of people who want to protect their investment will want to improve them.”
Joe Leonard said he was unaware of who will be running for the office this year. He also reiterated that he did not approve of a tax increase, especially during a time of global pandemic.
“I do not advocate for an increase in taxes for several reasons,” Leonard said. “This is not the time to be talking about increasing tax payment on people struggling to put food on their table. I would not support nor advocate an increase in taxes.”
Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at email@example.com.