Wake County’s population and its geographic area are too large – with each community facing its own range of issues – for the county to be considered one district in which all county commissioner candidates should be elected by a countywide vote.
There are “communities of interest” throughout Wake County without a consistent voice in government due to an exclusive “at-large” election system that promotes politicians catering to the more densely populated areas. For a county as diverse and large as Wake, effective and fair government requires representation that combines countywide and district-only votes.
As a native of Wake County, I’ve witnessed the county’s transformation. When I graduated high school in 1986, fewer than 800 people lived in Holly Springs. Cary was a town with fewer than 40,000 residents. The communities of Wake Forest and Rolesville shared one high school. The drive from southern Wake to Raleigh was rarely interrupted by traffic.
Today, the county’s population exceeds a million. The communities outside Raleigh are some of the fastest-growing in the nation. The population of the unincorporated areas exceeds 190,000, the second-largest population component in our county behind only Raleigh.
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The communities outside Raleigh face unique and critical transportation needs not adequately addressed by a transit plan that benefits mostly Raleigh, while being paid for by the entire county.
There is a dire need for new and renovated schools in communities outside Raleigh. Many of these needs have been ignored or pushed further down a list of priorities by politicians needing to improve their re-election campaigns by catering to the more densely populated areas. We have a countywide hotel/beverage tax whose proceeds benefit mostly Raleigh, while the communities outside Raleigh fight for what is left over.
I was born in and love Raleigh, and I clearly understand that a strong Raleigh benefits the entire county. But the current countywide voting system for the board of commissioners is inherently unfair and fails to produce representation that is accountable to the residents, businesses and local governments in the communities outside the more densely populated areas.
This is not a partisan issue. It’s about good government. The Wake County of today requires a system that provides representation elected by district only and countywide voting, so that we all have a voice at the table.
John B. Adcock, a resident of southern Wake County, won the Republican primary for District B, which has been removed from the county’s election map by a federal court’s order.