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Mayoral candidate profile: Jeff Tarte

Jeff Tarte

Residence: Belle Isle Drive

Age: 55

Family: Wife, Nancy; Sons, Nathan, 24 and Ryan, 22; and daughter, Natalie, 19

Career: Management consulting in the healthcare industry, former partner with Ernst and Young

Education: B.S. in Economics from the University of Illinois

Lived in Cornelius: 20 years

Civic involvement: Athletic director, Cornelius-Lake NormanYouth Athletic Association; Coached basketball, baseball and softball; Chair, Parks and Rec Advisory Board; Longest-serving Mecklenburg County Park and Rec commissioner; Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC); North Park Advisory Board Council; Teacher, Adult Sunday School classes and active member at Davidson United Methodist church.

Does for fun: A perfect day would go as follows: Early church, Sunday School, Panthers Game, Checkers Game. He also enjoys golf, sporting clays, skiing with the kids and is a novice scuba diver. He also is a current events junkie, and will sit with four newspapers and a cup of coffee and read every page.

Favorite movie: A self-proclaimed “movie-aholic,” he has seen more than 70 of the 100 top-rated films by the American Film Institute. Among his favorites are the Godfather, Wizard of Oz and Dead Poets Society

Found on his iPod: A very eclectic mix – from “Miles Davis to M.C. Hammer and Talking Heads to Toby Keith.” Oh, and the Beatles Box set, of course.


Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte, who is running unopposed for his third term, has been involved in politics since he was eight years old.

“I was indoctrinated into a conservative bin at an early age,” he said chuckling, remembering the days he would help his father distribute Barry Goldwater campaign materials door to door in his home town of Urbana, Ill. His dad served on the county board and the town board in Urbana, and as a child Mayor Tarte knew all of the local politicians and public safety officers. Enamored with government and politics, he later served as a congressional intern in Washington, D.C.

“I thought I’d run for office straight out of college,” Mayor Tarte said, but changed his mind when he got a job with IBM that paid better.

“At that time, it was eat, or be in politics. I chose eat,” he said.

It was his job with IBM that brought him to the area, where he has lived for more than 20 years and put down roots that run deep. All three of his children came up through the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system, attending Lincoln Heights Elementary, Davidson IB Middle and then North Mecklenburg High School, and for the last two decades Mayor Tarte has been involved in everything from youth sports to transportation planning. He is also an active and deeply committed member of Davidson United Methodist Church.

Politically, Mayor Tarte defines himself as a “mainstream Republican,” remaining respectful of different opinions. He believes public safety is the primary responsibility of any municipality.

“How (public safety officers) interact with the community sets the tone – it’s the core fabric of the community,” he said. And credits the Cornelius Police and Fire departments with fostering a sense of accessibility and caring that is unique to the town.

He approaches his leadership role with an eye towards collaboration, and setting – and achieving – goals and priorities.

“Every year, we re-set priorities,” he said, and the rest of the year is spent working to implement them.

“It’s not magic,” he said of his approach with town leaders. “You just have to say, ‘this is the tax rate we have, here’s the revenue we have, what will we spend it on?’”

And the results show you can set priorities and stick to them, he said, naming the Cornelius Animal Shelter, Fire Station 2, the new Police Station and the widened West Catawba Avenue as examples. “And we did it all while taking our bond rating to AAA,” he said.

In recent months, the mayor has said he is considering running for senate. He finds it intriguing, he said, personally as well as professionally.

“It’s a lot more fun to be in a position when your party’s in control,” he said. And he has already received a lot of support from some citizens.

But he has not yet made up his mind, and is not letting the senate race distract him from the current election. He loves serving the town, he said, and has a lot of projects he wants to see through

View more 2011 candidate profiles:

For Commissioner:

John Bradford

Dave Gilroy

Jeff Hare

Lynette Rinker

Thurman Ross

Chuck Travis

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Christina Ritchie Rogers is the assistant director of digital content at Davidson College. She also is the former editor of

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