04 students and teacherNorth Carolina is experiencing an economic boom. Forbes ranks North Carolina as the best state in America to do business. CNBC ranks North Carolina third of all 50 states in the same category, and North Carolina has ranked in the top five years now. Much credit must go to the Republican majority for their efforts on tax reform and fiscal restraint.

Despite being the fifth most populated county in the state, Cumberland County doesn’t seem to be sharing in this boom. While the state’s economy grew last year by 2.4%, we lagged behind at 1.7%. Unemployment in Cumberland County is 4.6%, 35% higher than the state average, and while the average income for the state is $46,117, here in Cumberland County it is only $38,780.

There are a number of factors that go into making a vibrant economy, but I think three of the most important are education, transportation and quality of life. While I was on the board of education, we started the academy system, which gave students the opportunity to choose a school based on their interest in a specialized curriculum, such as finance, health professions or a classical education. We also built 12 new schools. I would now like to go to Raleigh to gain additional state support for students attending school in less affluent areas like ours.

Commerce also needs good transportation. Wake, Durham, Guilford and Mecklenburg counties seem to constantly have major road construction in progress. Cumberland is the fifth largest county in the state, yet our area seems to never get its fair share of infrastructure funding. Maybe it’s time for the state government to combat the urban sprawl in the Triangle and Charlotte areas by diverting some attention to Cumberland County. With my experience as a County Commissioner and chair of the Joint Planning Board, I feel I can make a strong case for that.

Certainly, quality of life has a lot to do with a company’s decision to invest in an area. This is something we can point to with pride. The progress we have made in the past few decades is truly impressive. There is nothing that can be mentioned, whether it be theater, museums, entertainment, sports teams, dinning, parks, a revitalized downtown or whatever, that we do not have. The only thing we don’t have is an image that matches up with reality. People who are not from here do not appreciate what a vibrant community we are. They don’t know the many wonderful people who have worked so hard to get us to this place. We are an untapped resource, a diamond in the rough that can be a tremendous economic asset to the whole state. That’s a message I would be honored to take to Raleigh.

All my adult life I have tried to help make Cumberland County a better place to live. I have volunteered on over 20 boards and served on both the school board and as a county commissioner. For the first time in my life, I am in a position to give it my full-time attention. I know I have the desire to do it. I feel I have the experience to do it well. All I need is your help to get there. I humbly ask you to vote for Diane Wheatley for the North Carolina House of Representative in the 43rd District.

Thank you and God bless,
Diane Wheatley

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