By NJ Clausen
If you have lived in Kernersville for any length of time, chances are good that you have seen this month’s interviewee running along the roads of Kernersville…our Town Manager, Curtis Swisher.
Other than the years away at college, Curtis has lived in Kernersville his whole life. The youngest of 3 children and the only son, Curtis grew up in a small neighborhood. When asked if his sisters spoiled him, Curtis replied with a chuckle, “They kept me straight!” One of his favorite things to do was to ride his bicycle to town and walk around. When he was old enough to work, Curtis came up to his dad’s car lot during the summer. His job included stocking parts, washing cars, and sweeping the floors. As the business is located so close to the center of town, after being there and working, Curtis would go downtown to meet with friends and do different things. When he was growing up, Curtis explained that for the most part there was nothing past the Hardee’s on South Main Street, so anything that happened was in the downtown area and he liked being in the mix.
Curtis has always enjoyed running, and in high school he ran all three seasons. In the fall it was cross country, the winter was indoor track, and outdoor track was in the spring. Curtis did not do sports in college, which he feels was a good choice for him as he still enjoys running to this day, and he knows athletes who ran in college no longer run for the joy of it. With a smile he remarked that he may not have outrun them, but he has outlasted them.
Curtis has run marathons in different areas which includes Nova Scotia (which he won), Iceland, Canada, Alaska, and several other states. Curtis has some buddies that he ran with regularly, and they would often travel to these events together. They went together to the marathon trials in Atlanta last year before everything was cancelled.
After graduating from UNC Charlotte with a BS in Business Administration, Curtis started working full time at the car dealership. Curtis continued his education, procuring a Masters in Business Administration from UNC Greensboro. He also became involved with several different committees in town and was encouraged to run for the Board of Aldermen. He served on the board from 1997-2005, and served as Mayor Pro-Tem from 2001-2005, which means he would perform mayoral duties in the absence of the mayor. Curtis was elected as Mayor of Kernersville in 2005, and he served for 3 years before he was hired as Town Manager in 2008. The proposed development growth plan, often referred to as ‘Kernersville 2020’, guided the retail, residential, commercial/industrial, and health care projects in Kernersville.
When asked how Kernersville maintains its hometown charm with all the growth, Curtis feels that all the planning and care that went into the development has allowed the hometown feel to stay in place. Curtis added that there is a strong and vibrant downtown, a lot of good parks, the smaller festivals and events as well as the schools and sports that maintain that feel.
Curtis has been involved in many different community projects over the years, including coaching cross-country track for over a decade. It brings him joy when a former student comes up to him and says, “Hey Coach—I’m still running!” It is good to know that you can help somebody and give them something that they can continue to do without a team. For the beginner, Curtis said it is important to know what your limitations are, adding distance gradually over time. He tries to get in 30-35 miles a week, which is spread out and done earlier or later to allow for family time.
To his friends and family, Curtis would like to let them know how much he appreciates their support and understanding over the years, especially as he has been involved for over 24 years in local politics which includes late meetings. It is their support and understanding which has allowed him to do what he does.
To new neighbors, he encourages them to go to community events, to get involved with the non-profit organizations, civic clubs and churches, and get involved in the government. There is a board meeting open to the public the first Tuesday of every month…come and see what your elected officials are doing. The Town Hall is open if you have any questions. Kernersville is the heart of the Triad and has something for everyone.