I was first elected to the Davidson Town Board of Commissioners in 2011. At that time the Town was still feeling the effects of the “Great Recession.”
Regardless of our financial challenges, the Town’s commitment to our core values has remained strong. It is this commitment, I believe, that results in 96% of our citizens saying that Davidson is an excellent place to live.
I wish to highlight a few of our successes these past few years, in the context of those core values.
- Citizens are the heart of Davidson, so town government will treat all people fairly, with courtesy and respect.
- Open communication is essential to an engaged citizenry, so town government will seek and provide accurate, timely information and promote public discussion of important issues.
Since 2011, we’ve hired an excellent Public Information Officer, who has greatly improved the Town’s communication with our citizens, both in written and in electronic form. Davidson was the first Lake Norman town to “live stream” our Board meetings, enabling anyone with an internet connection to view our meetings remotely.
Our transparency has also increased since 2011. The Town Board holds more public meetings than ever, and they’re longer than ever. We’ve instituted regular ‘commissioner chats.’ We’ve done away with the “2×2” meetings which were held outside of the public view. We’ve hosted dozens of public input sessions any time we discuss important projects such as development, rezonings, public facilities, and the Beaty Street project.
- Davidson must be a safe place to live, work, and raise a family, so the town will work in partnership with the community to prevent crime and protect lives, property, and the public realm.
Davidson is a very safe place to live and work. Our police department is CALEA accredited, a tremendous accomplishment for a Town the size of Davidson. Our fire department has partnered with our neighboring municipalities to provide excellent service, and we continue to add staffing to both the police and fire departments. And of course, we are currently building Fire Station #2 to service our growing east side of Davidson.
- Citizens entrust town government with the stewardship of public funds, so government will provide high quality services at a reasonable cost.
In spite of the ongoing challenge of MI-Connection, our financial position is very strong. Our “fund balance” (aka “savings account”) is well above the requirements established by the state, and well above that of our peer group of municipalities. Our spending per capita compares favorably to this peer group, and our tax rate has been unchanged for several years. Finally, investing in property in Davidson has yielded a good return, thanks in large part to the actions of the Board and staff who make Davidson a desirable place to live.
- Davidson’s economic health is essential to its remaining a sustainable community, so town government will judiciously encourage and guide the location of new business opportunities.
Davidson’s commercial base has grown substantially since 2011, with the opening of dozens of new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses. MSC Industrial Supply, the Behavioral Health Hospital, and Valspar are a few of the companies who have opened in Davidson since 2011, bringing hundreds of new jobs across the pay scale. We’ve seen strong growth in our retail sector as well, with the opening of new restaurants such as Kindred, Mestizo’s, and Carrburritos to name a few.
- Davidson’s traditional character is that of a small town, so land planning will reflect its historic patterns of village-centered growth, with connection of neighborhoods, preservation of rural area, and provision of public spaces.
We revised our planning ordinance to requirement additional protection of open space, particularly in the rural area, where the Rural Area Plan will result in 63% of the rural area being maintained as open space. Our planning ordinance also requires ‘neighborhood nodes’ in selected areas, so that more people will have an opportunity to gather in places that promote community.
- Citizens need to move easily throughout the town and region, so government will provide a variety of options, such as sidewalks, bike paths, greenways, connected streets, and transit.
Since 2011 the Town has greatly increased it’s funding of sidewalk projects, as well as road maintenance. We’ve just received funding for an expansion of the Kincaid Trail greenway, and new greenways have been built in River Run (West Branch) as well as Fisher Farm. If the “GO” bonds are approved this November, the Town will have additional funding with which to accelerate the construction of both road improvements and a multi-use path alongside Grey Road out to Abersham, providing a pedestrian link between downtown and our parks on the east side.
- Citizens must live in a healthy environment, so town government will protect watersheds, trees, air quality, and other elements of the town’s ecology.
- The physical, social, and intellectual well-being of Davidson citizens is fundamental to our community, so town government will provide and encourage enjoyable, safe, and affordable recreational and cultural lifelong learning opportunities.
The Town has invested significant funding in improving Roosevelt Wilson Park on Griffith and Houston Streets, and is currently in the design phase for a new park near the Bailey Springs neighborhood which will include tennis and basketball courts (the 2nd phase will include additional passive and active recreation opportunities). The Town’s commitment to creating walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods close to our village center will contribute to improved air quality, which has seen steady improvement over the past 12 years.
- Davidson’s historic mix of people in all income levels and ages is fundamental to our community, so town government will encourage opportunities, services, and infrastructure that allow people of all means to live and work here.
As Davidson has become more desirable, and the economy has continued to be strong, Davidson has become a more expensive place to live, presenting a challenge to maintaining our economic and racial diversity. Maintaining this diversity is why I’ve always supported the concept of ‘clustering’ in our new neighborhoods, and which is why this Town Board revised our Planning Ordinance to require a greater variety of housing types and sizes. Land is expensive in Davidson, so to support affordability and diversity we must encourage housing other than large-lot single family homes. Candidates who tell you they’re going to slow down growth by returning to the old days of low density, single family housing are signing us up to go down a path of less, not more, diversity. I support the clustering of homes, protecting open space, and continuing to strive for diversity in our community.
In short, we’ve had a lot of successes these past 6 years. There is more to do, hundreds more jobs, our financial situation is strong, and we’re protecting hundreds of additional acres of open space through our Rural Area Plan. I believe we’re striking the right balance amongst our core values.