A vibrant democracy requires active participation from an informed citizenry. People in a civil society trade some degree of individual liberty for the public safety and general welfare provided by government, whether it is at the local, state or federal level. In doing so, it is incumbent on citizens to not only be well-informed regarding the candidates for office who seek to govern them, but also to actually go out and vote for the candidates they think are most qualified to lead.
In the mayoral race in 2013, only 18 percent of eligible Charlotte-Mecklenburg voters cast a ballot in an election that saw Democrat Patrick Cannon defeat Republican Edwin Peacock by 6,094 votes. Everyone knows what happened next.
In March 2014, Cannon was arrested on charges of accepting $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents. Obviously the few Charlotteans who even bothered to vote did not bother to vet candidate Cannon very thoroughly.
We have an important mayoral race coming up this Nov. 3, providing another chance to help determine our future as a city. We have a streetcar project that is at least partially to blame for the city's $21 million budget deficit that led to two tax increases in three years. The total tab is expected to be $500 million for the 10-mile track with no funding source in place. At $50 million per mile, don’t we have other things we could spend that money on? Traffic congestion relief perhaps?
Crime is on the rise as well. The single most important role of government is to protect the citizenry. Our police do the best they can, but they need the resources and support of our elected officials. Could some of that streetcar money go to hiring more patrol officers?
For the last 20 years, Charlotte has been known as a city that was “open for business.” We need a mayor and a local government dedicated to maintaining our city as a destination for job creators.
It’s no secret that citywide elections have become increasingly challenging for Republicans. We only have to look at other long time one-party cities like Detroit, Chicago and Baltimore, with pie-in-the-sky-free-ice-cream-for-everyone policies, to see the path we’re on without balanced leadership in Charlotte.
Charlotteans, and all Americans for that matter, should exercise their right to vote. We need to have a say in who leads us and in their vision for our city and our country.
Frank Dowd IV is chairman of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company.