Let’s play pretend politician: what issues would you own?
I’m not running for office and never will, but as a citizen of Haywood County and Western North Carolina and the U.S., it’s somewhat sporting to imagine what positions I would campaign on if I was running for election in one our towns or counties, hell even at the state or federal level.
It’s interesting to find out just what motivates people to put themselves out their and run for office. Today’s media — and I’m not talking about local newspapers — creates a challenging, frenzied political arena.
In my years as a journalist, though, my experience has been that most people run for office for the right reasons. They want to give back to their community or step up to plate because someone needs to do it. Those good intentions can initially blind the novice politician to the scrutiny and backstabbing and conniving that goes on in a venue where your boss is the taxpayer and you may be on a board whose decisions may affect the future of several hundred town or county employees, a number that jumps to the thousands if you are an elected state official or even more when you get to Congress. Tough job indeed.
Giving these folks their due credit, then, should be easy. But that’s just not the case. Most of the time their phone only rings when they’ve done something wrong. Or we show up at the county board meeting when we want more of something.
So right now, as everyone is signing up to run for office, I’m going to play pretend politician, which means pretending it’s all about what I want. Here are the issues I’d push at each level:
Waynesville Town Alderman
I know this election has already happened and things are already happening. But there are a two issues that I think aren’t getting attention.
• Open the Waynesville Watershed to hiking and biking. I know this isn’t even on the radar (and some say it can’t happen), but doing so would create a significant economic boost. I go to the Bent Creek Forest (adjacent to the N.C. Arboretum) in Asheville to walk, jog and mountain bike, and there are hundreds of people there every day. Although we are surrounded by wilderness, there’s really no place close within 35 minutes of Waynesville to get out in the woods on short notice. By my estimation this is public land and we could find a way to make use of it for recreation while also protecting the water and land.
• Complete the greenway from the town rec park to Lake Junaluska. Someone just has to decide to make this happen. Again, if you want to bolster job creation and make this town more attractive to entrepreneurs, then outdoor recreation opportunities will help. This would create one of the finest greenways in the region. Anyone know one of the main reasons Sierra Nevada Brewing moved to Mills River? Outdoor recreation opportunities, or so says the CEO. Ever been to Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard? Its parking lot adjoins a greenway trail used for walking, running and biking.
• My platform would be comprehensive land-use planning. Yeah, I know I’d never win, but I’d go down fighting. By my estimation land-use measures are like infrastructure. They allow homeowners and potential business people to know the lay of the land and not have to worry about the whims of politicians or neighboring landowners or developers who may not share their values. We just witnessed a very loud, very contentious debate about the proposed recycling plant in Beaverdam that having a land-use plan would have helped alleviate. This just needs to happen.
• Rewrite the lottery funding formula. I’m sorry, but I just don’t see local school systems using this money wisely right now. One school system used it to put turf on its football field. I’d fight for a system similar to Georgia and Florida, where students who make a certain grade point average get their tuition paid with lottery funds at state universities. This would keep most of our better students here at home for college. It would also bolster the economy because by alleviating student debt, Plus, mom and dad would have more expendable income. Instead of putting off buying things in order to save for college expenses, that money could be circulating in the economy right now.