John Peterson took long-time Elon Board of Aldermen member Lawrence Slade's seat in this year's November election. He's been married to his wife, Shannon, for 14 years and has one son, John. He received his undergraduate degree from NC State University and his MBA at Campbell University. Peterson has owned his own business, The Peterson Agency, since 1999 and has lived in Elon for eight years.
Q: Now that you've been elected what do you hope to accomplish?
A: Well, I just hope to make good value-based decisions that will improve life at Elon and the surrounding area. Making value-based decisions means making decisions based on information, not some personal or political idea or ideology. You have to be looking at the facts and respective of who the players are and making the best call — that is good value decision.
Q: What will be your first priority?
A: My first priority will be to get ramped up on Elon. I've lived here for eight years and so I know a little bit about the area, but I'm sure there are some detailed things I don't know about the municipality and municipal government. The first thing is to get good working knowledge of what goes on in the city, and how the board has been functioning.
Q: How do you think being the owner of your own business will help you as an elected official?
A: I think one of the challenges Elon will have, and even our state and country for that matter, will be a fiscal matter. And owning your own business and doing payroll and having to manage expenses will be beneficial. Plus understanding you can't cut your way to profitability.
Q: Would you like to change the relationship between the town and Elon University?
A: Again, this is one of the things I want to pay close attention to. The university does a lot of great things not just for the students but for the town in general. But there are other issues like the fiscal issues and tax issues with the university not paying taxes that have to be managed and considered. The relationship is great and good for the area but I do think we have to be thoughtful about managing the growth of the university and the growth and stability of the town as well.
Q: How has being involved with civic organizations impacted you as a politician?
A: I think the one thing that it shows, without giving myself to much credit, is that it shows that I care about people and whatever I am doing it will have a people focus or people centric view or influence. So whether it's my business or town of Elon business, or issues with university or involvement with other organizations, I will always have a concern and a compassion for people. And I think that is good because the town is made up of people.
Q: If you wanted to tell Elon University students one thing, what would it be?
A: The university does do something to support the town and the opposite is true for the town. The town does a lot of things to support the university and the growth of the university, which does have an impact on the students and what kind of education they can receive. The town is making sure the infrastructure and the safety of the roads and the crosswalks are all things we are thinking about and the town has a big role in making those things happen. Which I think has a direct impact on the quality of education and experience at Elon.
Both Mark Greene and Ron Klepcyk won re-election with exactly 502 votes each, while Peterson received the highest number of votes at 541. Jim Chanas was not elected to the board with 305 votes.