P.J. Connelly said he vows to continue the city’s unprecedented growth as Greenville’s next mayor.
Connelly, 34, who has served on the CIty Council since 2015, emerged the winner of a four-candidate race and will fill the seat left vacant when Allen Thomas resigned during the summer. Connelly received 5,786 votes (53.66 percent), Calvin Mercer 4,354 votes (40.38 percent), Ernest Reeves 529 votes (4.91 percent) and Curtis Pulley 37 votes (0.71 percent).
“This was a hard-fought campaign,” Connelly said Tuesday night. “We need to focus on moving forward.
“I am pumped to be be representing the city,” Connelly said.
In June, Thomas announced that he accepted an offer to be the executive director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (GTP), a division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Thomas submitted his official resignation during a special council meeting in July, and former District 1 Councilwoman and mayor pro-tem Kandie Smith was appointed to serve the remainder of his term.
A native of Wisconsin, Connelly earned a degree in finance from East Carolina University and was a pitcher on the baseball team. He played two years of professional baseball with the Los Angeles Angels organization before returning to Greenville to open Connelly Properties LLC.
“I always knew I wanted to come back to Greenville to put down roots and raise a family,” Connelly said. “I wanted to be a part of the growth I saw in the city when I was at ECU.”
Connelly was elected to the Greenville’s City Council in 2015 to the District 5 seat.
“This city has been very good to me,” he said. “One of the reasons I got involved in local government was to give something back to this community.”
Connelly said his priorities will be simple.
“Safety, jobs and roads,” he said. “Those were my top priorities as the District 5 representative, and those will be my top priorities as mayor. … The safety of our citizens can never be overlooked.”
Connelly said he is proud of his voting record with the City Council, especially in the area of economic development.
“It’s been great to see the things that have happened during the past two years,” he said. “I’m a numbers guy, and it’s been exciting to see how our economy is growing in Greenville. We have been able to lower tax rates at the same time that property values have gone up. … That has played a huge part in the amount of investment we are seeing in the city.”
Connelly said the City Council’s push to improve roads in Greenville also has had a positive effect in the city’s development.
“Infrastructure plays a huge role in economic development as well as quality of life for residents,” Connelly said. “Past councils kind of put roads on the back burner until our infrastructure was in pretty bad shape. I’m proud to be a part of that push to make roads a priority, and we are seeing the results now.
“Not only city roads are improving now, but the state is investing a great deal in road projects in Greenville and we soon will have an interstate designation,” he said. “ … This is going to lead to some huge opportunities.”
Connelly said that growth in Greenville also will come from building partnerships with the business community, other government agencies and institutions like ECU and Pitt Community College.
“City government can’t do it all on its own,” he said. “We all have to work together to help this city, and region, continue to grow … and part of being mayor is bringing everyone together and making things happen.”
P.J. Connelly, 5,786, 53.66 percent
Calvin Mercer, 4,354, 40.38 percent
Ernest Reeves, 529, 4.91 percent
Curtis Pulley, 77, 0.71 percent
Write-in, 37, 0.34 percent