Mark Kownick, who wants to become Cary's next president, doubts the ability of opponent Bruce Kaplan to fairly represent the village, pointing to Kaplan's real estate interests in the village.
Kownick said being village president and continuing to work for the real estate firm would create the appearance of impropriety on Kaplan's part.
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"My concern is that there's a conflict of interest. How's he going to objectively represent the village of Cary?," Kownick asked. "I just won't want the village hall to become an extension of his real estate firm."
Kaplan, a village trustee, is a senior broker specializing in commercial property. There have been three occasions when Kaplan recused himself from discussions or from votes that would have benefit him financially. If elected village president, Kaplan promises he'd continue to keep himself out of those transactions.
"When the red flag goes up, if I have a potential financial gain from a specific transaction being discussed, I step away or I recuse myself," Kaplan said. "I've done that and will continue to do that."
Kaplan also pointed out that as village president, he would only be voting to break a tie.
Kownick served on the board from 2009 to 2011 and then lost his seat. Kaplan was elected in 2011 as part of a slate that demanded transparency.
Kownick owns a facilities maintenance and cleaning company and says he only has one client in Cary.
Kownick questions Kaplan's ability to fairly represent the people and fears developers won't want to come to Cary, knowing Kaplan represents a real estate firm with multiple holdings in town.
"If he thinks he can do it, I strongly disagree," Kownick said. "I don't think that's a message we want to send to our potential developers."
Kaplan says his real estate experience actually helps him because he's been bringing business to Cary for 30 years. He also hopes Kownick practices what he preaches.
"If any conversations come up about maintenance and janitorial business as it relates to the village, he would also have to recuse himself because of that particular sphere in the world," Kaplan said. "Everybody who has a job has a conflict of interest in some way, shape or form as it comes to village business, and when that occurs, they have to do the right thing."