Moving Fayetteville Forward Together

We are truly at a critical time for our city. Over the last 10 years, Fayetteville has made some tremendous strides forward but for us to truly transform into the city we all expect and dream about, we must do it as one with a common vision and leadership to keep us focused and working together.

07-17-13-kirk-deviere.gifEvery person — no matter how old they are, what neighborhood they live in, where they work or the color of their skin — has a fundamental belief of what Fayetteville should be. We all share the basic expectations that our neighborhoods will be safe, that our government will be ftscally responsible, that we will have a vibrant business climate and that the city will provide basic services for its citizens. These are all common threads that bind us together; but over the last few years we have watched the fabric that is made up of these threads be torn, as discussions have turned divisive. We must now weave these threads back together and strengthen the fabric to have one Fayetteville, with one common purpose and goal for every citizen.

I want to be the next Mayor of Fayetteville because I know and believe Fayetteville can be even greater than it is today. I can help strengthen the fabric of this community. Fayetteville must become a cohesive collection of safe, vibrant neighborhoods and prosperous businesses. This is my vision.

The next several years will be challenging as we balance an ever changing economic climate with limited resources, with the need to grow and transform our city. We have several challenges that stand in the way of this transformation, but I am only going to mention two of these in this article.

We must address the rising crime rate. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2012nFayetteville had the fifth highest rate of property crimes in the U.S., and among North Carolina’s nine largest cities, our city ranked first for property crime rate and fourth for violent crime, which includes murder, forcible rape and robbery. I believe that public safety is the highest responsibility of government. As mayor, I will do all that I can to prevent crime and the quell the fear of crime because our citizens deserve better. Crime prevention and reduction has to be a priority and will be my number one priority when I become mayor.

Crime affects all aspects of our community whether you live in Bonnie Doone, Kings Grant, Haymount, Seabrook, Southgate or Arran Lakes. People want to feel safe — we want to be able to walk safely in our neighborhoods, we want to be able to live without the fear of our homes being vandalized.

Crime also affects our business owners as well as potential businesses that want to open in our city. Churches, schools, police, community-watch groups, businesses, individuals and parents all have a critical role to fulfill. No one group or person can make it happen. We must all work together to reestablish a level of respect and trust while recognizing that respect and trust need to flow both directions — from citizens to our police and from our police to our citizens. We are in this together. We will never reach our potential as a city unless we aggressively address the causes of this crime epidemic and take decisive action.

Here are my priorities:

1. Recognize and accept the fact that we can’t arrest our way out of crime — this fight has to be a community effort filled with structured youth programs, educational and job opportunities that will remain vitally important to our success.

2. Identify successful crime-prevention efforts in other cities that will work in our city as well as support the new efforts that Chief Harold Medlock has brought to our city.

3. Dedicate ourselves to fighting the problem and creating a safer city and community collectively and not in “silos”. This is “our” fight and we must work together.

4. Put the necessary resources (personnel, financial and technical) where they are needed most and challenge and encourage others in the community to do the same.

5. Hold ourselves responsible and accountable for results. We can no longer blame it on the data. Perception is the reality.

In a time where resources will continue to be strained and our city will be asked to do more for its citizens, we must lean in and work smarter to grow our tax base through business growth, not on the backs of our homeowners. We can no longer give this issue “lip service” and we must take direct steps to enhance the business climate so that the business owners (the risk takers) can invest and do business here. We are fortunate to have many of these entrepreneurs and risk takers in our city and we have to find the balance of policies and good business to allow them to invest in Fayetteville and create jobs while making a profit. This growth is what will allow us the resources to fight our crime issue, create better streets, continue our investment in transit, fix our stormwater issues and build better parks and programs for our youth.

It’s clear that we need bold and innovative approaches to our most pressing concerns: crime, business climate and growth, core city services, civic engagement, city image and more. We must remember that we are not just here to grow the city but to weave it together, to restore the fabric that differentiates a great city from a good city. I intend to focus my time and energy on these priorities and not on things that divide us.

Over the next several months, we will build a campaign that is focused on discussing the opportunities and the challenges that we face together as one city and community and a campaign that begins this weaving process. The conversation about how our community can grow as one needs to happen in every corner and every neighborhood of this city, and in collaboration with each and every one of you.

My promise to each of you is that no one will work harder to earn and keep the trust of the citizens of Fayetteville. I will work every day to transform this city to the city we all want it to be. One Fayetteville. Forward Together

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