02 pub pen picHappy holidays, everyone!

It’s no secret, Fayetteville is on the go and is growing. I have been heard saying many times that as an entrepreneur, I wish I was 30 years younger. There is so much potential and opportunity in Cumberland County. Unfortunately, when speaking to residents, they are not as forthcoming in their enthusiasm about our arts, culture and quality of life. Also, they are less confident in the future and direction of the community. Instead of attracting high-tech industry and manufacturing companies to prop up and enhance our economic development in our community, we’ve become a welcoming sanctuary for the homeless and downtrodden. Other cities view us as a dumping ground.

Please don’t shoot the messenger. I’m sharing what I sense is a groundswell of concerns surrounding the qualifications of many of our local elected officials and the direction they are taking this city. Planned municipal growth, prosperity and economic development require experience. More importantly, they take vision, empathy and the ability to put people over politics. Our community struggles with that concept on many fronts, and we suffer for it.

Evidence of this surrounds us at every turn. The most obvious examples are the contentious relationship between the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the 18-month struggle Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner and Commissioner Pat Edwards heroically fought — and won — to keep their town and residents safe from unscrupulous self-serving politicians.

Sadly, it’s not just local politics we should be concerned about. My final example is what is happening with the impeachment hearings in Washington, D.C. It is a sad and blatant example of politics over people. As Americans, it makes no difference whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent or white, black, rich or poor, the government is purposely and blatantly not functioning in our best interests. Elected officials’ personal politics take priority over the needs and welfare of our country. And we as taxpayers, get the honor of paying the bill while the needs of our nation fail to be addressed — needs concerning health care, homelessness, our veterans, our military and our national security, as well as education, the opioid crisis, infrastructure, the list goes on.

Locally, if our leaders put people before politics, it would demonstrate that they really care about the welfare of the community. No doubt, continuing to embrace the mantra “politics over people” will only produce mismanagement, enable corruption, cripple our growth and development and breed mistrust of our leaders.

There is hope, though. I admire leaders like Reps. Elmer Floyd, Billy Richardson and John Szoka for their “people over politics” inclinations to support our community. I respect them for supporting a state budget that would bring $136 million for high-priority projects to Cumberland County, including $46 million for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center that would benefit all residents educationally, financially and culturally. This action alone speaks volumes about their commitment to the residents of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

This is real leadership.

As we move into the new year, I hope our community newspaper is saturated with news and stories showcasing examples of great leadership, vision and accomplishment. We deserve it!
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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