• Former Huntersville mayor cleared of ethics violations

    By: Liz Foster

    Updated:

    The State Board of Elections cleared Huntersville's former mayor of any ethics violations after questions were raised over a country club membership.

    The board started investigating Jill Swain after there were claims that she accepted a free country club membership worth thousands of dollars. 

    The NorthStone Country Club’s family membership includes golf, pools, tennis courts, fitness center and more. Those membership perks have been offered to the current mayor in Huntersville for free.

    "I immediately replied that it would be inappropriate for an elected official to accept such a gift,” Mayor John Aneralla said.

    Aneralla said the town has a policy prohibiting elected officials from accepting gifts valued at more than $50.

    Aneralla said the general manager at the country club told him that Swain, the previous mayor, had accepted the family membership worth $4,900 a year.

    "I'm not sure that's the right thing to do, for a mayor to accept a gift like that," said Patti Cover, who lives near the country club.

    Eyewitness News anchor Liz Foster reached out to Swain in May when the allegations first came out.

    Swain did not directly answer when asked if she had accepted the membership.

    "The Town of Huntersville utilized the [Economic Development Commission] membership for special events or dinners with corporate prospects,” Swain said.

    Aneralla forwarded the country club's email offering the membership to the State Board of Elections and told them what he had learned about the offer made to the former mayor. 

    "I didn't want to be accused of knowing something for a long period of time, then releasing it to the media, and it's the right thing to do," Aneralla said.

    Until last week, Aneralla said, the town manager also had a free membership to the country club. The mayor said the town attorney let the country club managers know free memberships are no longer allowed to be offered to town employees.

    Aneralla said he was told Swain was still receiving a free membership to the country club because the general manager of the club didn't realize she was no longer the mayor.

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