The Wake County Board of Commissioners faces increased expectations since last fall’s election turned it into an all-Democratic board. But while the election swung control of the board from Republicans to Democrats, the change is more profound than a change in party.
The change is about a swing from closed to open, from skeptical to ambitious, from quarrelsome to cooperative, from a former Wake County to a dynamic new Wake County. Though the change is welcome, it won’t really take effect until the critics who became commissioners turn their complaints into actions.
The previous Republican-led board was conservative, but members did what they said they would do – they held the line on taxes and spending. Now progressive commissioners will have to translate their promises into action and move the county forward while maintaining its solid financial standing. Governing will involve hard choices and making sure the county residents understand and support the changes to come. The following should be priorities.
Roads simply cannot absorb the rate of growth in population and traffic. Wake has already lost precious years of transit funding, planning and development as previous boards debated whether there was enough “density” for mass transit. Now Wake has to catch up even as Orange and Durham counties are already collecting light-rail taxes and planning routes. That means getting a transit tax on the 2016 ballot, selling the tax and rolling from there.