I first want to say thank you for the chance to be first on the agenda. You all are still awake and Jeff Tarte hasn’t taken up my time with his speech….
Let me quickly tell you some highlights of the year in Huntersville: ABB opened (to the benefit of all of our communities), we received accolades for our 2030 Community Plan by the American Planning Association, we’ve been chipping away at many of the transportation and road improvements that have been on our priority list, Sam Furr is complete, our police department recently moved into new headquarters, we recently had overwhelming voter support for our $30 million bond referendum, one of our commissioners will be serving in the State House and we’ve recently begun a Community of Huntersville Education Collaborative, or CHEC committee.
We all are aware that it is probably not be in our foreseeable future to have our own school district and Huntersville has taken the bull by the horns to start making our schools FEEL as if they are community schools. This room is full of resources – experts in your field, conduits to potential volunteers – and our community as a whole, with citizen and business involvement, can be the biggest asset to our area schools. I encourage the Chamber to work with our CHEC committee to bring your membership talents to our schools. After all, these students could be your future Chamber members and potential customers for our local businesses.
I wanted to take time today to share with you something that has become very personal to me. In the past five years, I have worked with Mayors Tarte and Woods on a number of issues. We’ve met countless times to share challenges in our respective towns, to discuss initiatives that we believe might better our community as a whole, to debate the prospects for our future. We are three people of differing backgrounds, differing faiths, different genders and different political parties and yet, we have been able to get along and even have become friends. That is how Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius work best – when we have all worked together for a common mission – for our CITIZENS – and ignore political rhetoric, we have accomplished so much. ABB is a prime example. And while we can be professional, we all understand that we are not productive if we take ourselves TOO seriously.
In fact…not too long ago, we three were headed to Belmont for a Regional Mayors meeting. Jeff was driving, John in the passenger seat and I was in the back. John was the direction guy and when we were almost there, Jeff got a call from Fletcher Hartsell. “Hello, Senator!” he said, just as John tried to tell him he had to turn left. Jeff is talking, John is almost yelling, “Left! Left!” and I’m chiming in, “He can’t go left, he’s a conservative!” THAT’S the kind of relationship your mayors have…and yet, when we got to our meeting, I believe the other regional mayors will tell you that we in North Mecklenburg are a vocal force. And it’s important to note that Jeff DID go left that day, and he still won his election!
Sometimes our citizenry forgets that there is a difference between politics and public service. Sometimes we too forget that our job isn’t to “win” but to listen. I challenge the Chamber members to work with us in keeping the dialogue positive, understanding that we should never have an “us versus them” mentality, but an understanding that we have a record of greater progress when we all work together. And I challenge you all to question the motivation of those who might use the media for dialogue instead of talking directly to the citizens or other electeds. When you read a story with an “unnamed source”, question the motivations of that source. I ask you all to keep on your toes and keep us on ours.
We have a lot going for us here in North Mecklenburg. I’m honored to work with such incredibly talented, dedicated and personable people.