Dear Editor and Hello Boone!
What an exciting two years it has been!
Never in my life did I imagine that we could accomplish so much in such a short few years, even when the democratic process could be slow at times. I am so glad that I took the initiative two years ago to get involved, and I would always encourage others to do the same if they want to continue to help our community.
Our little town has made leaps forward in many areas, most notably, how we address our relationships with both Watauga County and Appalachian State, how our capital projects and needs are planned and prioritized into the future, and how the track is laid for community and neighborhood sustainability. The wheels of progress are turning forward at an exhilarating rate, with or without the help of our elected representatives. I am confident our new candidates will be as diligent as I attempted to be, and I look forward to seeing how their ideas and direction steer our community. As I close out the final year of my 20’s, I can only say that as rewarding as it’s been serving you on the Boone Town Council, I do look forward just a little bit to my early ‘retirement’ from politics this coming December, though I have a feeling it won’t be for long.
After my experience jumping into the deep end of local politics, I honestly feel like we are, and will be, in good hands with good people who really care about the community at the local level. I ran out of fingers and toes for how many committees, boards, task forces and advisory councils I was involved in, and all of them full of good people trying their best to make good decisions for our community. For every talking-head that we see or read about in the papers, there are countless more regular but amazing residents out there volunteering and doing their best for this little town. I cannot speak more highly of these diligent volunteers who donate so much of their time helping their community. I would also like to both thank the Town of Boone’s amazing staff and employees for their top-notch service, and also apologize to them all for the headaches we crazy elected officials give them along the way. I know they and our committee volunteers lose as much, if not more sleep than our elected folks do over many of our ‘exciting’ town issues.
In my short political honeymoon, I was able to help with Boone’s first public-private solar project, extending our greenways, expanding funding for sidewalks and bike projects, budgeting streetscape improvements and (finally!) major funding for downtown Howard Street improvements. We went through planning and development revisions, overlay wellness districts for our UDO, finalizing a New River restoration project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, debated noise and parking ordinance changes, and even looked closely at parking decks, all among booming construction and revitalization projects. Years from now, I will probably still get headaches thinking about the tough legal issues the state decided to put us through for reasons I do not agree with, and still do not understand. Many of my favorite initiatives and projects came from our sustainability task force, now re-formed as the permanent Sustainability, Economics, and Environment Committee (SEEC). I very much look forward to continuing the promotion of those sustainability goals, as I hope you do too. I couldn’t have done it all without the support of our excellent community volunteers. Thank you sincerely for what you do, even in the face of the political storms we read about in the papers.
As an unaffiliated voter I had hoped to remedy some of these issues of partisanship that we have experienced in our community. Although I feel that progress was made, it is going to take a lot more than one person in a highly visible and highly political position to be able to complete that tough task. It will take our entire community coming together, and although we don’t have to all agree on every issue, I can at least hope we agree to approach issues with discussion and logic rather than petty personal attacks, while not wasting taxpayer money fighting each other over which color is our favorite. Children and young-adults are looking to local leaders for examples of how they should act, how to act with those who might disagree and yet still accomplish the task at hand, and I hope and wish that all of us will do a better job of keeping that in mind.
In order to address the issue of divisive partisan politics, one of the most important issues in my opinion, we need to do more work in the community itself. We need to do work not just against the mysterious reds, or blues, or black and gold, or ‘us’ vs ‘them’, but rather working together as non-partisan community members who care about issues and care about our town and county. This will be tough, but I know we are capable of success.
With the election coming up next week with both new and familiar faces running, I want to focus on the issues and solutions to make our community as great as we know it can be. Focusing on what color arm band ‘they’ are wearing during what is supposed to be a non-partisan election is counterproductive to creating solutions. All of these excellent candidates are giving their time and devotion to us as a community, and we need to both hold them accountable to their promises and motivations, as well as thank them for being willing to enter the stressful, often circus like world of local politics. This is not just for Boone, this is for all our local political races. (See you at the polls Nov. 3rd!)
Thus, I would like propose that you join the new Boone Community Improvement Association. The purpose of the BCIA is to draw attention to the issues and concerns of the community at large, and to create a space for non-partisan discussion and debate on how to best address those issues. I want to hear what issues YOU believe are most important to our community, and how YOU think they should be approached. Together, we will continue to focus our community on solutions as we grow and change with the times.
Join us on Facebook as we decide on the date and time this November for our humble community volunteers to meet. I look forward to spending my spare time in political retirement collaborating with our local volunteers, leaders, civic associations, businesses and other community groups on helpful projects as our area continues to grow exponentially.
Thank you for the wonderful opportunity I have had to serve the last two years, and thank you for encouraging participating in the selection of who will have that honor next at the election this Nov. 3.
If you can’t find us on Facebook, please send your questions, concerns, and ideas to [email protected] or, as always just give me a call: 828-719-8131