The 9-member Board sets the policy for the county, determining the strategic vision for the county, appoints a county manager, attorney and others to serve the county. The Board's primary responsibilities are to adopt an annual budget, set a property tax rate and establish priorities to address the County's needs, especially in the areas of health, education, welfare and mental health. Six members are elected by districts and three are elected at-large every 4 years.
My goal is to ensure that my decisions always put people over politics and that I serve with honor, humility and integrity.
My primary goal has been to leverage my passion, knowledge, and diverse skill set to deliver results by bridging the gap between critical issues and policy. As residents of District 4, we have been fortunate to have moved forward long-standing community issues encompassing some of the following areas:
• Affordable Housing
• Parks investments
• Senior support services
• Education investments
• Minority owned and small business investments
In addition, the ability to understand the needs of our residents have provided an opportunity to advocate for and/or support the following specific initiatives in less than two years of service on the BOCC:
• Accelerated greenway projects (Briar Creek and Reedy Creek)
• Senior rehab program with Habitat for Humanity
• Institution of a County sponsored rent subsidy program to address affordable housing
• Pay increases for educators (highest paid in the state), MCSO Detention Officers, Mecklenburg County staff and CMS non-certified staff
• Supported the minority small business lending program
• Successfully advocated for participation in the "aging in place" program to assist with tax relief for seniors Countywide
• Expansion and accessibility of mental health services to vulnerable communities
• Improvements for Veterans Memorial Stadium, Albemarle Rd, and Mason Wallace parks
At the end of the day, it is our responsibility to ensure results are delivered for those we serve.
It is imperative that we realize that many of our major issues are inter-connected, and that the adoption of a comprehensive strategy to support the community will be required to address the issues. Specific areas of concern will center around the delivery of healthcare, education, mental health services, housing security, food deserts and the devastating economic impact it has caused on individuals and businesses. Many of these issues are long standing and have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the adverse impact will reverberate into the future. Targeted investments will be required in the areas mentioned, to include a focus on seniors, residents with disabilities and communities of color.
According to the Pew Research Center, working with community members is the most effective tactic to achieve equality. It is imperative that we clearly outline our commitment to equity and justice in areas of healthcare, education, infrastructure investments, housing, and economic mobility. We must work with individuals, key institutions, and organizations to establish measurable and achievable goals and remain committed to the process to achieve our desired outcomes. I would also continue to advocate for the implementation of the recommendations of the Opportunity Task Force, which would address upward mobility and addressing the institutional structures and barriers that create inequity.
It is critical that we leverage education as a way to break the cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, in our community we find that the quality of our education is tied to zip code, which in turn is tied to economic mobility and opportunity. We have too many children of color and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged that are severely under-performing academically. I am also an advocate of of increasing vocational training opportunities in skilled trades to provide options for those who do not choose traditional paths to higher education. Unfortunately, we are not currently living up to our goal of ensuring every child graduating college and career ready.
I am happy to say that during my first term, I was able to vote to increase the local supplement, which made CMS teachers the highest paid across our state. I believe educators are one of our most important community assets and should be compensated accordingly. With everything that our educators are asked to do to support our children, they should not have to live at or below the poverty line. In addition, I was proud to cast a vote to move salaries for CMS non certified staff to $15/hour.
We have the ability to establish the conditions needed to improve and strengthen our economy. We must be committed to investment in key areas such as infrastructure and education, which will break up pockets of poverty and provide increased access. We must be smart about the development of land and how it will impact accessibility to critical points throughout the community. Support for small and minority owned businesses to ensure access to capital and a reduction of barriers that are clear impediments to being competitive in a global marketplace is critical. A commitment and investment in these areas will have a significant impact on the quality of life of and strengthen the local economy.
County data reflects that there are far too many citizens who are not receiving adequate medical or mental health treatment. First, we must ensure that we have highly competent individuals leading critical community components such as our Health Department and community efforts around health. The BOCC can also implement a community education program, which would encourage citizens to take proactive measures to address health concerns and ensure healthcare facilities are easily accessible to our most vulnerable citizens. We must also work with and leverage the resources of non-profits and faith organizations to provide additional support. Finally, we must work with our major health systems to expand access and re-think the way we deliver public health services. The use of mobile units, expansion of services and hours will be critical to deliver services to those with limited access and are high risk.