Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

The Politics of Business

Russell thoughts 1Tip O’Neil, the 55th Speaker of the House and perhaps one of the most influential members of the United States Congress once said, “All politics is local.” He coined the phrase in a 1992 Congressional campaign running against an attorney who was heavily financed with out of state campaign contributions. What O’Neil was referring to was the principles that a politician’s success is directly linked to his or her ability to understand fully and influence the issues of their constituents.

The last few weeks and the week ahead will see a flurry of campaigning for local office and school board by both incumbents wishing to hold onto their seats and newcomers looking for an opportunity to serve. This year’s town boards are quite competitive with perhaps the most ever seeking an opportunity to represent their community.

The last local election could have been seen as a referendum on I-77 as tolls at Lake Norman figured prominently into the debate. There is no question that transportation – whether they are state roads or under local control – are critical in the minds of voters.

The Chamber has aggressively advocated for the cancellation of the Cintra Contract and moving forward with general purpose lanes since we adopted a Resolution calling for that action in June of 2015.

At a recent trip to my dentist, he pointed out I-77 has significantly impacted his business as they almost daily have to shuffle appointments from patients who are caught in traffic. Those of course are  patients who choose to reschedule!Reagan

This election cycle, voters in Mecklenburg County will decide the fate of a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond. As I write this article, your Chamber Board has not taken a position on the Bonds and may not.

As business leaders, we understand that education – public and private – is the foundation of our economic and business development. Our schools provide our workforce and the future generation which will inherit our communities tomorrow.

One of my favorite politicians of all time was Ronald Reagan. I met Reagan when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

It is well documented that Speaker O’Neil and President Reagan were constantly at odds. O’Neil said Reagan was the most ignorant man who ever occupied the White House and “a cheerleader for selfishness.” In his memoirs, the Speaker was asked about the attacks on the President and how the two seemed to remain friends. O’Neil commented, “Before 6:00 pm it’s all politics.”

Reagan himself once quipped, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”

Our economy seems to be doing quite well and I believe our citizens are ready to get moving again. The businesses of Lake Norman have looked to the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce for 30 years to help create jobs and provide an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business development.

The bottom line is we as business, community, and elected leaders cannot go back and change any mistakes that were made yesterday but we can create a brand new beginning. A change that begins with us, one person and one community at a time. It is the charge we have from our past and the responsibility we owe to the future.

Bill Russell

This column was written originally for the October Lake Norman Chamber Splash Newsletter and appeared as a Guest Column in the October 4th issue issue of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper (Page 32), Photo taken at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) Portland Oregon, June 1992.

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October 30, 2017 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees), Politics, Transportation & Road Improvement, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots to be thankful for!

Last weekend, a longtime friend called to inform me she was moving to Colorado and hoped we could get together again before she made that trek out west.

Jill was one of the first people I met at the lake when I took over the helm of the Chamber in 1996. She and I could not have been more different in our political philosophies. She was a diehard progressive and I was clearly a conservative when it came to my beliefs and values. Yet, our love of the Lake Norman community and the potential of this region transcended our partisan differences.

jayceesAs a reporter for the only newspaper in the area at the time, Jill and I were both involved in many of the milestone events for our area, such as the groundbreaking of the “New” Exit 25 on I-77 and the grand opening of Birkdale. Since she also served as president of the Lake Norman Jaycees and was active in both the Chamber and Rotary, she and I interacted a great deal over two decades.

As we sat together on her last weekend in town, we lamented how partisan, bitter, and angry politics have turned both nationwide and locally. Ironically, we also both remarked how glad we are that it will soon come to an end – at least until next fall! We spent the next two hours reminiscing friends we have lost here at the lake and celebrating how things have grown and prospered since we first met over 20 years ago.

As we started to say our goodbyes, almost on cue – a beautiful Lake Norman sunset burned brightly in the sky above The Port City Club. We watched as the sun slowly sank below the cool waters, glistening orange and yellow as the day gave way, surrendering to twilight.

We hugged one last time and she left for her new life out west. Driving home, I was reminded that during this season of Thanksgiving, how very fortunate and thankful I am to all of the many people like Jill who have profoundly shaped our community and my life. And, how much better the Lake Norman region is because of these remarkable individuals. I am also very thankful that unemployment is down, our local real estate market is thriving, and commerce is strong. The chamber continues to introduce new businesses to the Lake Norman market, engage new members and benefit from the immense dedication of our volunteers. For these things, we are immensely grateful!

Recently, the Chamber held a Public Safety Luncheon where we saluted our local Police, Fire, and First Responders for keeping our families and businesses safe. While riots and protests ensued just a few miles down the road, our communities were safe! For that and for the services this special group provides each day, we should all be relieved and thankful!

We also celebrate the growth of our Lake Norman Chamber Young Professionals who celebrate their second anniversary this month! This group is growing as we see more and more young adults get involved in their community. America can feel the power of her young people and nowhere is that more evident than Lake Norman.ed-collab

Last month, we called on local businesses to help our Lake Norman Education Collaborative and you responded recognizing the need for businesses to partner with our public education. Thank you!

While I am thankful the campaign season is coming to a close – I am also very grateful to the men and women who both serve and those who seek political office.

As I watched Jill walk away, it occurred to me sometimes it’s the smallest of things and the people who have touched your life you cherish most of all. You may not remember all they said, perhaps not all they did, but you remember how they made you feel and the impact they have had on your life.  It really is a lot to be thankful for.

 

 

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized, Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viewing life through a different lens

diversity-4

2016 Diversity Chair Chris Hailey and Lake Norman Chamber President Bill Russell

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am an avid football fan. On any given Saturday or Sunday, I’m usually sitting back watching games when I see a real bone-headed play that leaves me thinking, “What was that all about?”

Granted the play has been stopped, we know the result and, in many instances, we watch replays over and over from every angle. Knowing the outcome, many of us become sports geniuses — hence the term “armchair quarterbacks.”

Several years ago, I had the opportunity, through our Leadership Lake Norman program, to tour the Criminal Justice Center at the Central Piedmont Community College Merancas Campus in Huntersville. There I was allowed to participate in a firearms simulation on which our law enforcement officers are required to train. Participants are provided a firearm equipped with a laser that registers actual hits and misses in a simulated environment.

In some situations, subjects in the video are innocent bystanders. In others, in the blink of an eye, the bystander became an armed assailant. The actual time you as a law enforcement officer have to ascertain the threat and act are mere seconds. My simulation involved terrorists who had taken hostages on a passenger jet in flight. I laughed it off and went home after I hit an assailant, a bystander and the fuselage of the plane perhaps dooming all of the passengers. For me, in that room with that make-believe gun in a simulated environment, it was little more than a video game.

Out on the streets, it’s anything but.

The last few days in Charlotte, and last few months nationwide, have seen tensions between law enforcement and the public reach a precipice. As I personally struggle to understand why we have reached this point, my good friend and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Diversity Chairman Chris Hailey asked me to “step back away from my ‘whiteness’ and see the world through a different lens — that of an African-American man.”

What some of us may see as a single incident is for many a tipping point of years of frustration, anxiety and fear. While there can be no excuse for looting, violence and lawlessness, there must be a way to confront the feelings many minorities are experiencing.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Lake Norman Chamber Diversity Council will host a Lunch & Learn session at the CPCC Merancas Campus with Brandi Riggins from Charter Communications. She will discuss race relations and how we can continue to come together as a community. The Diversity Council will also host another community forum later in the month.

In the meantime, the Lake Norman Chamber will salute our public safety officers who put their lives on the line for us each and every day — our police, fire and EMS officers along with the Crime Stopper of the Year. That event takes place Thursday, Oct. 20, at NorthStone Country Club.

Unlike football, our police officers have no instant replay and no way to truly know what’s in the mind of the person they stop or try to apprehend. They have no ability to look back on what they could or should have done. They have only the moment. It’s real time.

One thing I do know for certain: none of our officers are out there looking for confrontation. They simply want to serve and go home safe at the end of the day to their families.

My friend Chris asked me to see life though a different lens. The reality is I’m not sure I ever really can. But I do know, I need to try. I pray to God that we all try.

October 11, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Social Causes, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Driving Home Your Point

Garden

Granddaddy Russell in his garden

Yesterday on a Face Book Page called I77 Animal House, I was taken to task by an anonymous poster who said my constant criticism of Governor Pat McCrory and his reluctance to cancel the I77 Cintra Contract was in a word “Disrespectful.” While it is true the Governor can, with a stroke of the pen, cancel this very bad deal, he has been steadfast in his refusal to listen to the Lake Norman Town Boards, State Legislative Officials, and more importantly the voters who sent him to Raleigh in the first place.

While our chamber of commerce and business leaders have made the case why this is bad for business, now the NC Justice Department is investigating the company who was awarded the contract by NCDOT.

I have served the Lake Norman Chamber as its executive for twenty years with the primary objective of leaving this community and region better than I found it. Unfortunately the Chamber’s earlier support of this P3 Project, and my very real insistence we had to go along with this bad plan, was a mistake. Settling for the lessor of two bad deals still leaves you with a bad deal.

One wonders whether the anonymous poster is just caught up in partisanship and will go to any lengths to toe the party line or was she one of the former elected or community leaders who pushed this project through and now cringes at the notion she too may have to admit a grave mistake.

Ironically, in deriding me for my position she said in her post, “Your granddaddy would be proud.”

Anyone who has followed my career knows I like to write and many of those stories and articles have included stories about my Grandfather Russell who lost his battle with Alzheimer’s more than a decade ago.

I loved working in the garden with granddaddy. From the time I was a little boy, he had me digging post holes and then chogging the dirt.  No matter how deep I dug those holes, he always insisted just a little deeper.

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my father down at the farm, watching the cows that would graze close to our white picket fence. We had to tear down the fence that granddaddy built and replace it with a plastic version that can better withstand the elements.  But looking at the fence, I couldn’t help but recall one Saturday afternoon I was helping granddaddy repair the old one.

As we toiled that hot afternoon making repairs, I shared with my grandfather problems I was having managing the staff of an office furniture company. We had all agreed on sales goals and for a while things ran smoothly.  But after a few months, our sales staff settled back into old routines and performance declined.

After listening to me vent, granddaddy stopped his hammering, took off his old work gloves, and wiped the sweat from his brow. He looked at me for a second, gathering his thoughts, before he asked me to take a nail and strike it on the head as hard as I could into a board.

I did as he asked.  He then asked me to take the claw of the hammer and pull the nail out. Once again, I did as he directed, finding it a fairly easy task as the nail was driven in just so far.

Granddaddy then asked me to take a new nail and drive it repeatedly into the board until the head was flush with the board. Upon completing the task he asked me to remove that nail as I had the other.

I could not.  The nail was flush with the board and there was no leverage to remove the nail. My grandfather in his wisdom explained just as I drove that nail in repeatedly, you sometime have to drive your point home with colleagues, staff… and sometimes a stubborn Governor.

Some might call it disrespectful to question the foolishness of a fifty year bad deal.  People can certainly draw their own conclusions.  I prefer to look at it as fulfilling a promise I made to the businesses and citizens of Lake Norman. I will do everything I can in the time I have left at this chamber of commerce to leave my community and region a better place than I found it.

And to that end, I will on every occasion I have, drive home the point – Toll Lanes at Lake Norman are bad for our citizens, bad for our communities, and bad for business.

Would Granddaddy Russell be proud? He didn’t quit until the job was done and neither will I.

Bill Russell

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Leadership Lessons, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The regrets of a southern strategist

Russell thoughts 1Last year, many of us watched the Senate campaign between Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan play out on our televisions and splashed across the papers in the most expensive race in U.S. history. More than $103 million was spent as the candidates engaged in a spirited campaign.

Thom is not just a huge supporter of business at the lake or simply one of our own.  I have known the Senator and his wife Susan for more than a decade and they are both personal friends. I cringed watching the attack ads on TV and seeing the messaging in newspapers.  Much of it was baseless and untrue.  I’m also quite certain the same could be said in regards to the attacks on then Senator Hagan.

A product of South Carolina, one of our native sons was a master of negative advertising.  The late Lee Atwater had few rivals in his ability to spin, boxing candidates into corners, and helping his party and their candidates onto victory.

In the last few weeks I have read things on social media about local candidates for office that I think would make even Lee Atwater blush.  Social media such as Face Book and Twitter allow anonymous critics to hurl filth with the only true goal – to maliciously hurt another individual.  Some keyboard cowboys and cowgirls launch personal attacks that they would never do face to face.  What some claim as fact is nothing more than pure fiction designed to prop themselves up by pulling others down.

In the end, it is our community which is hurt most by the baseless accusations and negative attacks. Negative campaigning is nothing new.  The founding fathers of our country did not get along either. Even George Washington was falsely accused of being senile by those who sought to take his office.lee-atwater-1138-20070813-4

Perhaps no one said it better than Lee Atwater himself.  Facing the illness which eventually took his life at age 40, he said, My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about acquiring—acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most.”

“But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”

The words we choose can be daggers to the soul or inspire others to reach new heights. In the end – the choice is ours.

October 27, 2015 Posted by | Personal, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Every Picture tells a story

Lake Norman Chamber Candidate Forum

It seems as if the last few weeks have been nothing but a flurry of political activity.  The first week of September, the Charlotte region hosted the Democratic National Convention.  Later that week, a delegation from the Chamber and Visit Lake Norman made our annual trip to Washington DC to meet with our federal delegation and to attend the N.C. Business and Economic Development Summit with members of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation and Senate.

These past two weeks we have held two candidate forums featuring our candidates for United States House District #9, Mecklenburg County at large and District #1, and the new N.C. House Seat District #92.

 A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Kristy Etheridge from WBTV who asked did our businesses see much of an impact from the DNC?  I told Kristy that months ago, we cautioned area retailers and hospitality businesses from being overly optimistic that delegate spending would be a “silver bullet” for our local economy. 

In speaking to some local business owners both here and in Charlotte, as well as DNC vendors, sales were for the most part disappointing.  While our hotel industry did quite well, some retailers in Charlotte were actually hurt in that regular customers and clients did not patronize the businesses during the DNC.

The real strength of the DNC was its ability to showcase our area to not only the nation, but the eyes of the world.  A political event of that nature is perhaps second only to the Olympics in terms of international exposure.  Media coverage, as well as national and international awareness, focused on the Charlotte and Lake markets.

Before the gavel sounded at Time Warner Arena, our Chamber had already been contacted by a Senior Producer with RTL Netherlands, a television news organization, on giving our perspective on the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care act (Obama care).  Their producer had seen the media coverage of our August Focus Friday on the subject.

Perhaps Vinay Patel, whose company SREE  owns Marriott’s Courtyard and Residence Inn in Huntersville, summed it up best at this month’s Visit Lake Norman Board meeting when he pointed out the DNC proved to the world Charlotte is no longer a second-tier city when it comes to hosting an event. 

Tom Coderre and Bill Russell

While I did not have a chance to attend any of the official DNC, I did tour the facility and had a chance to have dinner with a close friend I had not seen in over a decade.  Tom Coderre, the Chief of Staff to the Rhode Island Senate President and a former State Senator himself, attended the DNC as a delegate.

Tom was a National Vice President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1992-1993 when I was the National President.  One of the youngest NVP’s to ever serve the Jaycees, he was assigned to many of the larger states like Texas and Kansas.  In the beginning, some of the Jaycee leaders from those states could not imagine such a young man from such a small state could be that much of a resource. However, Tom soon proved true the adage “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”  Among the ten National Vice Presidents, Tom was recognized at our Annual Meeting in Greensboro as the Most Outstanding National Vice President and received the coveted  Don Cavelli Memorial Award.

Tom and I avoided most of the political issues of the day and focused on what we were doing with our professional careers.  However, before we went our own ways he introduced me to other delegates from Rhode Island including his Mayor from the City of Providence – Angel Taveras, and I had the chance to meet delegates from Maryland.

One by one, they each told me how much they were enjoying Charlotte and the region. “Charlotte is a beautiful city,” one remarked and when I identified myself from Lake Norman, another commented, “Oh, I was there yesterday – spectacular!”

Travelling back home in my convertible that night, an old Rod Stewart song came on the radio.  I listened to the refrain of the familiar song I had heard so many times before… “So remember, every picture tells a story don’t it”     In this case… I couldn’t agree more!

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who built this city…

Charlotte 2012

In a few days, more than 35,000 people are expected to fill the Charlotte region for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  Our hotels will be filled and Lake Norman businesses are excited about the prospects of getting a boost in sales.  When asked recently what I thought of the national convention held in our backyard, I replied, “For the Chamber, it isn’t about being a red state or blue…at least for the weeks ahead, Lake Norman’s water’s will be green!”  Anyway you look at it, the exposure, attention, and spending will be great for the Charlotte region and our local economy.

Those who know me, and most of you do, know that I love politics.  While a conservative, I am just as much an admirer of Bobby and John Kennedy as I am of Lee Atwater. When you get right down to it, politics is about relationships and the art of the deal – the essence of business.  So it is perhaps only natural I have a love and fascination for both.

In late July, one of our own local business members made national news reacting to the words of President Obama.  In a speech, President Obama said, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that…”  Rion Homes President, and Lake Norman Chamber member, Nicole Goolsby pointed out – “Yes she did!”  Nicole responded she took out a $15,000 loan on her credit card and set up a desk in her bedroom 12 years ago.  From there Nicole built a solid business and gave back to the industry by serving as the president of the Lake Norman Home Builders Association.

Nicole was one of literally hundreds who responded with their story.  America is built on entrepreneurship, small business, and hard work. If I added a “PS” to any of their statements it would be government doesn’t solve economic problems.  People and businesses will if government simply gets out of the way.

The President indeed said those words. However, he actually said more than that.  He had begun the conversation by saying there are a great many successful people but you didn’t get there on your own.  If you read the context of his speech in its entirety, he wasn’t trying to take away from the small business owner or entrepreneur.

Bill Russell addressing participants in Junior Leadership Lake Norman – High School Juniors, our future community and business leaders

A sentence lost in his speech that he actually said was, “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have… that allowed you to thrive.”  It’s unfortunate we live in an age when people take words out of context, lift one or two sentences from a speech – disregarding others, or read into letters or emails their own interpretation offering their unique and often biased spin.

Within days of the President’s speech, parodies were made on the old Jefferson Starship song “We built this city.” Those of us who remember the classic 1985 song, might also remember a verse that said, “Don’t tell us you need us, ‘cos we’re the ship of fools – Looking for America, coming through your schools.”

The political season and sometimes politics in general brings out the ship of fools in many of us.  Let’s hope the kids in school now don’t allow us to be their mentors in how best to govern. Perhaps they will take note on how to do a better job when its their turn at the helm.

Lost in all that hoopla was the President’s closing line – “We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people… You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal, Red or Blue – that’s at least one thing we should all agree on.  Together we built this city and we’re all in it together!

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rep. Sue Myrick: A Legacy of Leadership

Jack Salzman, Rep. Sue Myrick, and Bill Russell

American humorist Will Rogers once said, “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”  My mother loves to tell the story that as I child I simply destroyed my toys.  In 1964, at the age of five, mom purchased one of the new Tonka toys from West Main Hardware in Rock Hill.  The salesman stated this new line of construction toys made of metal were the perfect toy for kids who were hard on their toys.

Mom said she put me in the backyard, locked the gate, assuming I was good for the afternoon.  She claims within the hour she saw me sitting on the ground beating the dump truck with a hammer.  Perhaps more priceless was the shocked look on the salesman’s face when mom walked back in with the remnants of a bashed in yellow dump truck.

One of the first elected officials I met when I arrived at the Lake Norman Chamber was Representative Sue Myrick.   Rep. Myrick has represented North Carolina’s ninth district for 18 years.  There is no question she has been an outspoken spokeswoman for conservative principles,America’s security, and business.

Sue, as she prefers to be called, served two terms as Mayor of Charlotte, a term on the Charlotte City Council, and ran a successful advertising firm.  She’s also a breast cancer survivor and has been a staunch supporter of American healthcare – sponsoring a law to provide Medicare coverage for mammograms and pap smears for low-income women.

The Chamber has made annual trips to Washington DC for more than a decade and Sue always made time to listen to our delegation about issues of importance to the Lake Norman region. She was just as accessible back home in the district hosting town hall meetings, business briefings, and legislative forums.

Rep. Myrick has railed against the corporate income tax, which hovers at slightly under 40% and higher than business taxes in France,China, and many other industrialized countries.  Rep. Myrick has pointed out that adding new bureaucratic jobs in Washington is not the answer.  Lowering taxes and rolling out the welcome mat to primary job creators and small business and entrepreneurs is the solution.  “Government jobs don’t grow the economy,” said Sue.  “The only thing that grows the economy is private sector jobs.”

This month as we celebrate Small Business Week – May 21-25, it is fitting that we have Rep Sue Myrick on May 11th to get us focused.  The Chamber will honor Rep. Myrick for her unwavering support of business at the luncheon as she caps off a wonderful career of public service.      

I’m not sure Will Rogers was flattering Congress with his remarks but I am certain that Sue Myrick knew when to use her velvet glove and when it was appropriate to bring out the hammer.

Unfortunately, I didn’t leave many hand-me-down toys to my brother Todd.  But I am certain Rep. Sue Myrick leaves the citizens of District Nine and our nation much stronger because of her sound judgment and commitment to conservative values and principles. 

Sue once told our Chamber delegation, “We have to make those tough choices so our America will be there for our kids and our grandkids.”    Representative Myrick went to Washington to make a difference – to make her district and her nation better than she found it – and she did.  It is her legacy of leadership.

May 24, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passing Thoughts on the Political Scene

Flag electionAs Bruce Springsteen – “The Boss” – was strumming on stage at Time Warner Cable Arena, anxious politicians and supporters were glued to laptops and television screens watching the results of Tuesday’s election results trickle in, precinct by precinct.  While the region will see two new mayors in Charlotte and Mooresville, for the most part voters returned incumbents to continue the job they were doing.  In Huntersville, a conservative seat on the board was filled by a newcomer to the political scene, but one whose conservative views may very well match those of her predecessor.

Cornelius saw the three incumbents returned to continue their public service and were joined by two experienced planning board members who may again closely match the experience and progressive vision the former commissioners share.  Certainly, in neither Huntersville nor Cornelius, will there be a major shift in the course the towns have been headed when it comes to land planning and zoning decisions.

The parity in the elections of Huntersville and Mooresville’s Mayoral contests show just how split the towns may well be in what voters are seeking from their chief elected official.  While the political philosophies in Huntersville could not be more stark in Brian Sisson and Jill Swain, the electorate was almost evenly split in the closest election I can certainly recall in that community. In Mooresville, only 16 votes separated incumbent Mayor Bill Thunberg from challenger Chris Montgomery.  That race centered on fiscal policies – the same issue in which Sisson and Swain were most sharply contrasted.

In the election of our regions’ Mayors – Anthony Fox, Jill Swain, and Chris Montgomery – all three find themselves edging out their opponent with less than 2% separating them from their challenger. (Mayors Tarte and Woods were unopposed.)  Each needs to examine carefully the philosophies, views, and talents from their challenger that the public embraced.  It will not come natural, but they should try to seize on those traits and beliefs in which nearly half their community supported and work to build a strong team and consensus on their board.

It will be much easier in Davidson where the two political newcomers already embrace much of the philosophical direction of their predecessors based on the feedback we heard in the Chamber’s candidate forums last month.  Matthew 22:14 states, “Many are called, few are chosen…”  Last evening, some very good people were elected to lead our communities. Some other very good people were not.  Such is politics.  Few are actually given the opportunity to serve.sunrise

In the hands of that chosen few lay our unbridled opportunities.  Let us hope they put aside the challenges which distract them from the good they can do and capitalize on the strengths that will help us all reach our potential as a region.  Let us work together to build a community and region so compassionate and strong that the generation coming behind us say of us later, they gave their absolute best…

And let us not dare fail in that task.

 

November 4, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vote Tuesday November 3rd!

usflagIt’s that time of year when election signs have been outnumbering the real estate, yard sale, and lose the weight placards which pop up around intersections.  Incumbents smile at everything you say and actually claim they’re glad you said it.  Newcomers to the political scene state they are going to straighten things out and you can be pretty sure someone wants to stretch your budget just a little more with new taxes or fees.

The electorate is a funny thing.  In most cases we will travel around the world to fight for democracy, but we sometimes will not take the time to vote in an election.  Voters recognize a name on a ballot and cast their vote, sometimes without any real knowledge of those candidates’ views.    The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has held three candidate forums to give our communities a chance to hear those views and the local papers have done a great job of focusing on their qualifications.  Now it’s up to the registered voters to decide who will lead their communities.

Some may ask, “Why bother to vote?”  Our local government affects our homes and businesses directly.  Local government provides the fire and police protection, takes up the trash, and sets the tax rates.  Through zoning, they determine what type of business locates where, how they operate, and how they market that operation.    Perhaps no single election will impact your business and your life as much as this local election where you have the opportunity to elect town officials and school board members.vote

On Tuesday November 3rd, please take the time to vote for the candidate of your choice.  Make your own decision that best represents your views and interest in town and education matters.  Weigh carefully how their election could impact your business and your family.  Remember – the only bad decisions are made by those who don’t take the time to make them.

November 2, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment