Ernie Masche is a Candidate in the upcoming Hickory City Mayoral race. He will first face an October 8th primary against incumbent Mayor Rudy Wright and fellow challengers Dr. Joseph Inglefield, Jeff Brittain, Candice Harold, and Terry Revels. If he succeeds in being one of the top two vote getters, then he will move on to the November 5th at large election. The questions posed here are available for all candidates to answer. I have agreed to post them without critique and there will be no critical comments allowed in this article. There will be a "Candidates" Hickory Municipal Elections tab to the Right of this article. It will show anything related to these candidates as we move forward in this process. Anyone who wants to participate is free to do so. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
1) Can you give us some background and a history of yourself? (Where were you born? What is your educational background? Why did you come to or stay in Hickory? Tell us about your professional accomplishments.
I have lived in Hickory since I was 6 months old.
1981 - Graduated from Hickory High School
1982-1987 – Worked at Frye Regional Medical Center and Viewmont Camera before receiving my degree in Operating Room Technology at CVCC.
1982-1987 – Continued my freelance photography career while shooting for The Hickory News and Focus and shooting weddings and portraits.
1987-1989 – Served as Track Photographer at Hickory Motor Speedway and continued covering NASCAR for The Hickory News and Grand National Scene newspaper.
1989-1993 – Full-time freelance photographer covering NASCAR events for corporate sponsors, teams and national publications.
1993-2011 – Co-founded and served as Vice President for Cameras In Action Stock Photography, Inc. that had 8 employees covering NASCAR full-time with a studio based in Mooresville, NC. This was the first company of its type to cover NASCAR.
2) Tell us about the accomplishments you are proudest of achieving in your life? Something besides having a family or raising children. We all recognize that those are common goals that we all aspire to. What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced/were a part of in your personal life? In your professional life?
In my career, covering NASCAR for over 23 years, I had the opportunity to see many places and meet many people. I am proud of all those people I worked with closely over those years because they all had so many different personalities; it always kept me on my toes. I can say without hesitation that they all respected me for the way I handled myself as a professional and as a person over those years. In my personal life, God and my family were always most important to me and that remains the same to this day. I pray daily for different things including my friends and other people. I knew Davey Allison before he died and he always said, “there was nothing that he and the Lord could not handle”. I firmly believe that we are “One Nation Under God”. Too many times we lose sight of this in our fast paced new technology world. If we keep the same basic principles we can handle anything that comes our way.
Here is a list of some of my accomplishments and Civic duties of which I was involved.
Attend Hickory Harvest Church
Member of Hickory Masonic Lodge #343
1993 - Master of Hickory Masonic Lodge – youngest in the history of the lodge.
2003-2005 – Coached basketball and soccer at Hickory Recreation Department.
2002-2006 – Cub Scouts Den leader and Cubmaster of Pack 1
2003 – Cubmaster of the Year in Lakeland District
2003 – Pack 1 was Pack of the Year in Lakeland District
2000 – present – Member of West Hickory Aeromodelers and served as President for 3 years during which time our organization reached its largest membership of over 70 members.
Former member of the Catawba Valley Camera Club and 2-time Photographer of the Year.
North Carolina Lifetime Sportsman
Life Member of Bass Anglers Sportsman Society
Life Member of the NRA
3) If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?
The words my friends and others have used to describe me are: hard working, professional, trusted, team player, positive, energetic, outgoing, honest, sincere, helpful and always smiling. My friends would say you should elect me because I have the skills outlined in the job description and I bring 20+ years of expertise to this type of position.
4) How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?
I always listen to the ideas and thoughts of others and I always do what I feel is best for everyone who will be affected by the decision.
5) Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today? Does it still bother you? Can you share with us how you came to grips with that error?
I made some important decisions on my path in life and professionally. After high school, I did originally plan on going to college and then medical school. Instead, I worked and finished my degree at CVCC while learning photography and then my photography blossomed into a very successful career. My parents we very unsure how this decision to be a professional photographer would carry me through life, but I can positively say it served me and my family very well and I have no regrets. I am not sure what would have happened if I went on to become a doctor, but obviously there would have been some differences.
6) If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be?
That’s a tough one. We need to do a lot of different things that would impact our community in a positive manner. We need to spend more efficiently no matter what project we decide to tackle first. The Great Recession, as it’s come to be known, set many municipalities off the course to prosperity, and the City of Hickory was no exception. Across the nation and here, belts were tightened. From the family checkbook to city, state, and federal budgets, making ends meet became a tougher task. Slowly the signs of recovery are becoming more abundant. As Mayor of Hickory, we will turn the corner. We, as a community, need to be more optimistic. I believe that in the coming years citizens will start to see tangible evidence that economic development is underway – not just plans and blueprints, but groundbreakings and openings.
7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future. What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money?
We need to make Hickory more aesthetically appealing to visitors and potential business owners wanting to re-locate here. Lets mow some vacant lots, trim some trees, paint some older buildings and make our streets more attractive. I can see a large group of citizens pitching in to do these things with little to no expense, but we all have to work together and keep the end result in focus. Lets make Hickory more appealing to others, especially new prospective businesses.
8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area? Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
I think we need to move into the 21st century with more technology based companies. There are companies out there looking for economical places to move their operations or build new facilities. Sure, we have had some new companies move into the area, but not at a fast enough pace. We need to be more pro-active and pitch Hickory to them instead of waiting on them to come to us. We can turn around our economy and development in this area but it will take a group effort from everyone to make it happen. The Mayor, City Manager, City Council or any single person or entity cannot make it happen alone. We have to put egos aside and work together and not worry about whom gets the credit for good things happening to our community.
9) If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be? What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like people to say after I have served my term or terms as Mayor of Hickory that, “he showed great leadership skills in bringing our community together as one and really made things happen to turn this city around”.
10) How do you define Leadership?
A leader uses ones character, values, passion and positive influence to gain respect and encourage others to achieve a common goal or vision.
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