MONROE — There are 13 total candidates for the Board of Union County Commissioners — three Democrats and 10 Republicans. Before the primary on Tuesday, May 17, here’s what to know about each candidate.

One-stop early voting sites are now open and all locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Early voting ends May 14. Voting sites are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays (May 7 and 14) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, go online to


Kimberly Morrison-Hansley: — A Union County native, she is looking to create “A More Perfect Union,” according to her campaign website. Her platform includes: responsible growth, traffic improvements, low taxes, being transparent with and accessible to all county residents, broadband, clean water, sewer capacity and affordable housing. (

Gina Palandri is from Minnesota but currently lives in Stallings. She has had campaign experience working with Pam De Maria, Gloria Overcash, Judge Hunt Gwyn and Claudia Sandoval. Her platform includes: road improvements, water and sewer capacity, affordable broadband and affordable housing, according to her campaign website. (

Kevin Daniels is from upstate New York. He served in the Air Force for 20 years as an Air Traffic Controller stationed in North and South Dakota, South Korea, New Mexico as well as two deployments to the Middle East. He moved to Monroe in 2017. He is an active member of the Union County Democratic Party and has served on the party’s board as vice chair from 2019 to 2021. His platform includes: lower taxes, controlled growth, improved roads, animal welfare, small business growth and acquiring more federal and state grants for Union County. (


Edwin Elam, of Waxhaw, is looking to increase the number of manufacturing and tech jobs in the county, network with people who may be able to benefit the county, transparency, planned infrastructure, water and sewer and evacuation plans.

Terrence J. Glesias has more than 30 years of experience in transportation logistics and finance. He works as vice president-sales manager at U.S. Bank. For four years he served as Secretary for the Union County Board of Elections and has served the Union County Republican Party as Vice-Chair and as Secretary. He has lived in Union County since 2004. His platform includes: responsible growth, higher focus on commercial development, support Union County Public Schools, regional planning, working with municipal leaders and personnel in connection to the hiring, retaining and recognizing county employees.

Brian W. Helms is a Union County native and alum of Piedmont High School. He has been employed by a local manufacturing company for 24 years. His platform includes: lower taxes, transparency and supporting the school district.

Melissa Merrell is the current chairwoman of the Union County Board of Education and has served the board for eight years. On her campaign website, she lists her professional experience as a project manager balancing a national sales team. She also writes about overseeing the school district’s overall budget of $454 million of which $130 million comes from county sales tax. During the pandemic, she led the board in deciding to host traditional high school graduations, outdoors and make face masks optional and not requiring COVID vaccinations. (

Parker Mills is a former county commissioner and Monroe native having graduated from Monroe High School in 1979. He owns Mills’ Cleaners in Monroe which he took over from his father. His platform includes: supporting Union County Sheriff’s Office, Volunteer Fire Departments and Emergency Service. In 2010, he was chosen as the Union County Republican Men’s Club Man of the Year and in 2012, Mills’ Cleaners was named as Small Business of the Year. (

Dennis Rape is the current chairman of the Board of Commissioners. His platform includes: low taxes, caring for all county residents, supporting the sheriff’s office, fire departments, emergency services and public school teachers as well as addressing infrastructure issues in northern and northeastern parts of the county. Also, he would like to bring commercial development along the Monroe Expressway. Rape uses his personal Facebook profile to campaign.

Stony Rushing is a current member of the Board of Commissioners. His platform includes: supporting agriculture, water and sewer capacity, responsible growth, lower taxes and spending cuts and advocating for constitutional rights. (

Jonathan Robert Thomas is not a former county commissioner though he shares a nearly identical name as a former commissioner. Thomas is a Charlotte native who has lived in Union County since 2008. His platform includes: responsible spending, responsible growth and promoting commercial development and lower taxes as well as road improvements and water and sewer capacity. He has served on the Union County Planning Board for two years and one year as chairman. (

Travis Wilson is a Waxhaw native whose parents worked at the JAARS Center. His platform includes; lower taxes, supporting local law enforcement, responsible growth, water and sewer capacity.

Steven Engel — There is no known campaign site at this time.

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