This Thursday voters will begin to go to the polls to flex their electoral muscle - each doing their part to keep our democracy strong. To me the choices are easy. As a city we can continue down the same, status quo path that has brought and kept us above 10% unemployment (one of the highest in the country) for going on 5 years, national rankings that are even less flattering (5th worst place to live), and leadership that is chomping at the bit to enact higher taxes on us to pay for even more "pet" projects (Rudy's food tax and Inspiring Spaces).
Rudy Wright is definitely not one for numbers and facts. Rudy instead bases his campaign on words. At Friday night's forum we heard a lot about "turning the corner" and "Inspiring Spaces". While the other candidates talked about ideas they would like to work towards over the next four years, our mayor repeatedly insulted and demeaned them by referring to their proposals as unrealistic and telling the audience that the other candidates needed to address his go to slogan "Inspiring Spaces".
Rudy is resting his entire case for re-election on the undefined and unsubstantiated claim that Hickory has "turned the corner". Mr. Mayor, I know you read this blog. Would you please tell me and the other readers what exactly you mean by "turned the corner"?
Under your tenure as mayor, we have seen the loss of over 30,000 jobs. Several of the other candidates from the League of Women Voters' forum offered up ideas on how they would address our current unemployment situation. While those individual plans can be debated as to their effectiveness, what matters is that those candidates are actually willing to address the issue. Where is your plan Mr. Mayor?
The most honest thing you said at the forum was this - " I'm going to keep on doing what I've been doing." Translation: Re-elect me and you're going to get more of the same.
Mr. Mayor, Hickory doesn't deserve, nor can we afford, more of the same. We are owed fresh new ideas. We deserve actual leadership willing to actually get out of "campaign mode" and roll up sleeves and govern - making the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions truly great leaders are tasked to make.
It would be nice to be led by a mayor that isn't constantly campaigning. I'm sorry Mr. Mayor, but leading/governing isn't making the daily morning stops at Bojangles, McDonald's, or the Snack Bar. Governing is actually directing the City Manager's office to fund the projects you know the citizens want. Your job isn't to accept the answer of "we can't do that" from the City Manager. Your job is to instruct the City Manager to bring you the different options of how to get something done and then deciding which option is the best - not going to the City Manager with a "mother may I..." approach. Sadly, you have either forgotten or never understood that the City Manager serves at the Council' s pleasure - and perhaps more importantly, the mayor serves at the pleasure of the voters. The mayoral "job" belongs to the people.
I ask all the citizens to please consider that, in Hickory, we have a truly important decision to make. Please don't accept that Rudy is the best we can do simply because he is what we have. Until now, we haven't had qualified, capable, and legitimate alternatives who were willing to get into the arena and truly challenge Rudy Wright. This election cycle we have more than one alternative. Please look closely at all the candidates. Don't be afraid to consider one of those alternatives. No one can honestly say that Hickory is better off today than we were 12 years ago. What new has Rudy offered that will significantly change things over the next four years that he hasn't been able to accomplish during the previous 12 years? If he hasn't done it by now, then what makes you think he will do it in the next four years? Please consider voting for something more than just personality. Vote for ideas.
And consider this - Rudy has been mayor in Hickory longer than he hasn't. He was a citizen for only 8 years before he ran for mayor, and now he's been mayor for 12 years. I ask you this question - has Rudy been good for Hickory, or has Hickory been good for Rudy?