Point of View

Cultivating a vision of community that lasts beyond the next election cycle

June 9, 2014 

Wake County’s Board of Commissioners and the N.C. General Assembly are making serious budget and policy decisions affecting our community.

Teachers leaving their jobs by the hundreds in Wake County show we’re not taking care of our schools, and this must be higher priority. Taking away the authority of local governments to act in the best interest of their cities harms our communities’ ability to respond to local needs. Rolling back cleanup plans to protect our drinking water resources is really a short-sighted approach to protecting water quality and the opposite of planning for tomorrow’s needs.

Now is the time to ask ourselves and our elected officials: How are we going to ensure a better tomorrow? How can we work together to get beyond politics and plan for our needs? Partisan politics and finger-pointing will not solve the challenges we face. There are no easy answers, and no solution is either “my way or their way.”

WakeUP Wake County’s vision for our community is a Triangle region that is healthy, economically competitive, well-educated and environmentally sustainable. It’s a vision of a community that provides a high quality of life for future generations as we continue to grow. A community where development creates vibrant, mixed-use and walkable communities and offers transportation options, strong schools and diverse housing choices. A community where future residents can depend on a clean and adequate drinking water supply, improved air quality and green spaces as a result of effective transit and land use planning, coupled with policies that protect our natural resources and promote public health. A community where great public schools ensure high achievement for all, attract the best teachers and accommodate student growth.

At a recent gathering of business leaders organized by WakeUP Wake County, a participant said his greatest hope for our community is that we work to ensure a high quality of life so his children and grandchildren will choose to live and stay here. I thought that was a heart-felt, honest answer about the kind of future many of us dream of for our community.

One critical factor that will affect this vision in the not-so-distant future is the reality of our rapid population growth.

The Raleigh-Cary metro region was the fastest-growing in the U.S. from 2000 to 2012, and our county and many of our towns – big and small – top national growth rates. What will it be like to live here with an additional one million people? What will we n0eed to do to ensure our community continues to function well and be vibrant?

Many of us who have moved here are likely unaware of the planning, vision and efforts of past leaders to make this one of the best places to live, work and play. We can’t rest on their laurels but have new challenges, and it’s time for decision-makers to envision what is needed not just for the next election cycle but for a better tomorrow.

If we allow ourselves to engage in the difficult conversations required to implement this vision, economic vitality and jobs will follow. Investing in ourselves is the No. 1 way to encourage others to invest in our community.

It takes courage, dedication and, yes, financial resources. Our community has a history of willingness to share costs for the greater good because, in the end, we all benefit. Remember, the cost associated with inaction will be much greater. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren to take up these challenges as part of a larger vision to keep this region great.

Tomorrow starts today.

Danny Kadis is chairman of the WakeUP Wake County Board of Directors.

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