by Jordan Green

Monitoring the economic pulse of the Triad by Jordan Green

Council member’s relationship with retailer prevented vote on incentives

Winston-Salem City Councilwoman Wanda Merschel, who represents the city’s Northwest Ward, recused herself from votes to approve incentives worth up to $1.3 million to Mast General Stores. The incentives deal received the green light from the city council’s finance committee, which is chaired by Merschel, before advancing to the full council. After the most recent vote, City Attorney Angela Carmon told YES! Weekly that Merschel recused herself from the votes because John Cooper, an official with the company, serves on the board of directors of Piedmont Federal Savings Bank. Merschel is employed as a senior vice president at the bank, and Carmon said the board plays an instrumental role in setting salaries for senior employees.

John Cooper purchased the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis with Faye Cooper in 1980, according to the company’s website.

Carmon said she discussed how the relationship could pose a potential conflict of interest in a verbal conversation with Merschel.