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Time to Start Thinking About the 2011 Mayor’s Race

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While it is “only” August of 2011 and elections for Charlotte Mayor and Charlotte City Council are 15 months away, it seems to me that NOW is the time we should be planning, fundraising, and doing the legwork that will be required if we are to change the makeup of City government in Charlotte.

This is not to say that the upcoming County Commission elections are unimportant…..quite the opposite is true.   We must continue working hard to get our candidates elected to County Commission this fall so that we flip that dynamic as well. 

Why did I choose to write this column about a race that no one is yet thinking about?  Simply put, we need to get out in front of upcoming elections and be doing the important work to ensure victories years into the future, not just weeks or months.  The part of me that thinks strategically believes that all the sitting City Councilors should already be huddled with those thinking of running to determine who is likely to be on TEAM 2011.  Even if the field is crowded and there are primaries next spring, the overall direction to be taken by council and mayoral candidates should be taking shape now. 

Now is the time for leaders to emerge and set the tone for 2011 victory.  Now is the time to put together the team who will do the research to detail all of the current and future problems we are facing, all of the wastes and failures of City government, and craft the plan that will result in Charlotte government creating a pro-business and pro-employment atmosphere that will have companies locating, relocating, and expanding in our community.

If there is anything I have learned in the last 6 months, it is that “it” is not about politics.  It is not about political philosophy or ideology.  Simply put, it is about economics.  And speaking frankly, the economic policies of the City of Charlotte have resulted in and are resulting in bad governing policies.  Conversely, good economic policies will ALWAYS result in good governance.  We know as a historical fact that the only way to drive economic growth is by removing all of those things that government does to inhibit growth.  Cutting taxes, reducing business fees, stream-lining licensing processes – these are the items that encourage businesses to locate, relocate, and grow.  Higher taxes, higher fees, and governmental red tape are all things that make businesses (and people) move from Charlotte (and take their sales and property tax dollars) to Fort Mill. 

We have allowed the Democrats to run with the concept of telling citizens that taxes have not been raised in Charlotte.  This is blasphemous.  Politicians will point to the fact that property tax rates have not risen in a number of years.  Too many citizens believe that means their taxes are not being raised.  But what about property valuations?  If your property has not been devalued since the onslaught of the Great Recession, you have, in fact, been hit with a tax increase.  Have water rates gone up?  Yes they have…and guess what, that’s another tax increase.  What about the personal property tax on your car(s)?  Is the value placed on your car by the County the fair market value?  No, it isn’t.  Again, no change to the rate, but that does not mean your taxes have not increased.

I am continually frustrated when I hear Republicans tell me that the days of Republican Mayors in Charlotte has passed, and that folks like Anthony Foxx are unbeatable.  “We can’t get Blacks to vote for Republicans” is something I have heard more times than I care to recount over the past 2 years.  That, in plain English, is a cop out and an excuse.

As Republicans, we need to do better.  And, we need a candidate for mayor who will look our city’s Black population, Black Political Caucus, and Black businesspeople in the eye and tell them the truth.  And the truth is that the policies that have been pitched as “helping Blacks in Charlotte” have NOT had the intended results.  Is crime REALLY down in Charlotte’s predominantly Black areas?  Is employment and financial opportunity REALLY up in these same neighborhoods?  The answer is a resounding NO.  Yet, instead of thoughtfully and articulately going on the attack on these issues, we run from them.  My experiences tell me this is the wrong approach.  Just like sticking to labels like Republican and Conservative and Democrat and Liberal do nothing to solve problems but definitely are great for sticking the wedge of divisiveness between us.

We need REAL solutions, not just political rhetoric.  To say we need lower taxes and less government is right, but it is not enough.  To someone who believes that they “need” government programs and services to survive, lower taxes and less government will NEVER be the winning philosophy.   A concerted and focused effort to create opportunity for people are dependent is what we need.  We must put an end to the practice of using taxpayer funds to support people who are here illegally.  While we do that, we must explain to those who vote for Democrats that it the Democrats that vote to use our limited resources for people who are not citizens.  That results in a direct hit to the help that government could provide to those here legally!  Think about it….if you are someone who needs assistance and votes for Democrat candidates, do the Democrat candidates ever tell you that by voting for them you are causing yourself harm?????  Heck no they don’t…..and the problem is, neither do we.

I learned many years ago the definition of leadership.  Forget all the gurus and fancy authors.  Leadership is the ability and the courage to stand up for what is right and to look people honestly in the eyes and tell them the truth – and like good parents do – to tell the person WHY it is the truth – and to explain it in a way that has real world meaning to the recipient. 

It’s time we find that leader here in Charlotte.  The clock is ticking and November 2011 is fast approaching.  Who is going to lead us back from the brink of despair, and return our city to prosperity?  That’s the couple hundred million dollar question facing those of us to the right of center in the Queen City.

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