2012: The Year of the Mecklenburg Activist
This past year saw several victories for grassroots activism and activists in Mecklenburg County. Yes, there were defeats, and if you are a conservative some of those defeats are hard to swallow. But here are a few of the victories which owe their success in large part to citizen activism. Remember them. Use them when a challenge seems too big to overcome. You just might win.
- Dan Forest Lieutenant Governor Campaign – This campaign is now the model for how North Carolina statewide elections can be won by harnessing the power of local activists. Here locally, activists with CAUTION (Common Americans United to Inspire Our Nation) formed a core of campaign supporters working tirelessly to get out the campaign’s message. If it wasn’t for these activists here and across the state it’s hard to see how Dan Forrest would have become only the 2nd Republican Lt Governor in modern state history.
- Mecklenburg County Revaluation – Every Mecklenburg County resident owes former Cornelius Commissioner Jim Bensman and his fellow activists in Cornelius a big thank you for their relentless efforts in pushing for an audit and review of the botched 2010 revaluation. Together with SMART (South Mecklenburg Alliance for Responsible Taxpayers) they kept the pressure on county staff and our elected officials. Without that pressure nothing would have happened.
- 4-Year Terms Defeated in Davidson – This year, the Town of Davidson in North Mecklenburg saw the reemergence of the topic of 4-year terms for Town elected officials. There can be little doubt that commissioners would have unilaterally made this change back in 2011 if not for local activism against it. When the issue resurfaced this year, activism from aShortChronicle blog and other locals once again helped ensure it did not happen – protecting the voters’ voice at the ballot box.
- Activists Rise to Positions of Influence – Matthew Ridenhour, a leader in the Charlotte Tea Party movement, and Claire Fallon, a former community activist with the Northeast Coalition in the University City area, have begun making their respective marks as elected officials. Ridenhour becomes the first person elected to office in Mecklenburg County directly associated with the Tea Party, and Fallon has achieved the status of “Chief Fly in the Ointment” of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx’s dreams of an expanded Streetcar.
From Statewide to hyper-local, Mecklenburg activists shaped and influenced many of the most important debates in our communities this past year. It is an exhausting and often thankless effort, but one that is needed. I’ll leave you with a quote I heard from Don Reid years ago at one of his famous Thursday breakfast meetings in South Charlotte. To many, Don is the godfather of Mecklenburg conservative activism. If you think a challenge is too big to tackle, remember these words.
“To achieve great things, attempt something where only divine intervention will allow you to succeed.”
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