dd pic 11.pdfLast week the TCC and Cary Politics co-hosted a dinner with Cary’s newly elected leaders. Guest speakers included Mayor-Elect Harold Weinbrecht, Don Franz, Erv Portman, and Gail Adcock.
They participated in a “dinner and dialogue” with over 100 citizens from Cary and other parts of the Triangle—and from varying walks of life. The results: a calm, cool and collected conversation between Cary’s leaders and every-day citizens and business leaders about growth.
Our hat’s off to Don Hyatt, administrator of Cary Politics, for helping coordinate the meeting, and for doing a masterful job of moderating the discussion. (You can read Hyatt’s take on the meeting here).
For almost two hours, Cary’s new elected officials answered questions (some pointed and tough) from the audience about how they plan to manage Cary’s growth (in a slowing economy).
Here’s what we learned about Cary’s new leaders:
Mayor-Elect Harold Weinbrecht seems wiser. When asked about lessons learned about growth management (from his last tenure on council) Harold said this: “There are no absolutes [in managing growth]. When I served previously, we put our foot on the brake too hard. And we don’t need these huge pendulum swings in how we handle growth.”
We sense he’s very aware of going too far, too fast with new growth policies. He did signal that he wanted input from ALL segments of the community in town policies.
Cary’s new mayor seems very comfortable in his own skin. His historic perspective from the Lang years, along with the lessons learned since, could be good for how the Town handles its current and future challenges. He’s excited about his yet to be published 100-day plan. We hope Harold’s plan reflects his seemingly thoughtful and practical approach to growth management.
The other new councilors all seem to have different, but fresh views of Cary’s future. Don Franz, a local small business owner and father of six, wants the new council to focus on Cary’s downtown. Franz, had the best answer to a question about Cary’s growth patterns when he said: “I love sprawl.” And we love Franz’ honesty and “tell it like it is” style. Every elected body needs a no-nonsense leader like Franz. His freshness and energy will be a great addition to Cary’s elected board.
Erv Portman made it very clear Cary’s ordinances are too cumbersome and need adjusting. When asked what he would do specifically to address growth, Portman said “…by changing Cary’s development and growth regulations.” A planner by education, Portman will be the go-to man on ordinance tweaks. And rightly so. Based on his answers the other night, he seems to know as much detail about Cary’s ordinances as some of the Town’s staff.
Political newcomer and SAS employee Gail Adcock impressed us with her answers to all the questions. She seems very concerned about the schools in Cary, and the region. She also said she plans to use her background as a nurse and business manger in her approach to governing.
In all, we were impressed. Of course there’s always a honeymoon period with newly elected leaders. But it appears everyone’s off to a good head start. We all seem to be on the same page—and all understand we have tough challenges managing growth in Cary (and the region). How we get there, is where we may see divergence.
Then again, that’s what makes our democratic system so great; that and the fact that after a rather contentious election, we can all sit in a room and have a civil discussion about the issues that unite (and divide) us.