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Cornelius News

Cornelius Town Board members attend Davidson Town Board

Dec. 14. In a mutual show of respect and solidarity, all five members of the new Cornelius Town Board as well as Mayor Woody Washam attended the Davidson Town Board meeting Tuesday. It was the good kind of payback: Monday a week ago, all five members of the new Davidson Board of Commissioners attended the Cornelius Town Board meeting along with incoming Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox.

Regionalism, also known as cooperation between the North Mecklenburg towns, is important beyond the hot mess that tolls on I-77 became, starting with a 900-page contract no one can understand except Cintra, the company that was awarded the 50-year contract, complete with no-compete language.

“We must continue to realize the​re is power in numbers and keep our communication open with our neighboring towns,” said Cornelius Commissioner Thurman Ross.

Local history was made when the Davidson board attended the Cornelius board meeting Monday, Dec. 4, and it was repeated Tuesday, Dec. 12 in Davidson, when Mayor Rusty Knox was sworn in. (He is the Newsmakers Breakfast speaker this morning at The Peninsula Club.)

“We must realize that we all have some of the same issues that affect our region and work not only with our neighboring towns but with county, state and federal government​s. We all have different relationships with various persons or entities and by working collaboratively, we will only benefit from regionalism,” Ross said.

It wasn’t always that way with lone ranger types grandstanding where and when they could. The show of solidarity also underscores agreement around the profound failure of the I-77 toll contract as it stands and any kind of meaningful buy-in around the $650 million project.

One of many backdrops to this story is that the former mayors of Cornelius and Davidson scuttled their political careers when they traveled to Raleigh to press the case for the tolls. Indeed, support for tolls has demolished not just political careers but some attempts at regionalism. Huntersvile and Cornelius bailed out of the once larger Lake Norman Transportation Commission after it failed to weigh in on the toll crisis in any way shape or form.

Mike Miltich, the new Cornelius mayor pro tem, says the Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius “infrastructure is intertwined in so many ways.”

One of the chief ways is the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization which passes on almost all things transportation related on a regional basis. Each town or city has a weighted vote based on size, with  Charlotte being the elephant in the room.

Only when the other towns vote together can they out-vote Charlotte, which benefits mightily from toll lanes in and out of the city as well as the additional highway improvements south of the Huntersville bottleneck.

“When we coordinate and cooperate, all of us benefit by having a larger voice/presence at the negotiating deliberations with other entities. A win for one results in a win for all the towns,” said Miltich, the Cornelius delegate to the CRTPO.

A collective approach to large issues like roads, education and even air pollution helps get local opinions heard, according to state legislators.

“Approaching challenges and issues regionally is an area of new opportunity for our Lake Norman towns,” said Washam, the new mayor of Cornelius. All three are expected to reach out to the mayor of Mooresville as well as NC Rep. John Bradford and NC Sen. Jeff Tarte.

“The relationships I already have in place with Mayors Aneralla, Knox and Adkins will be a helpful foundation to move regional cooperation and dialogue to new levels quickly and efficiently,” Washam said.

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