Kurt was the first citizen to stand up and objectively and factually explain to our community why the I-77 toll lanes are wrong for Cornelius.
Today every elected official and candidate agrees, but it wasn’t that way back in 2012, when Kurt first spoke up. Back then he had every LKN town board against him as well as every LKN Mayor, state representative, state senator and even the local Chamber of Commerce.
With little support from elected officials he took his case directly to the people. He started a grass roots organization, wrote over two hundred blog posts, gave scores of presentations throughout the Lake Norman region, wrote editorials for the Charlotte Observer as well as local weeklies, was interviewed by every television station in the area, gathered thousands of petition signatures and made ten trips to Raleigh to convince state legislators.
He broke the news about the $20 round trip toll estimates; the contractual non-compete clause that effectively prevents us from widening I-77 for the next 50 years; the $75 million taxpayer subsidy and the potential taxpayer bailout if the project fails.
In fighting the I-77 tolls Kurt accomplished something rarely seen in politics:
He changed the political establishment’s position without alienating it.
In fact, Kurt has been endorsed by state and local officials across the political spectrum from Charlotte to Statesville.
He did all of this as an ordinary citizen, with no credentials other than the strength of his arguments and incredible persistence. For his efforts he was recognized as the 2015 “North Carolina Citizen of the Year” by the NC Open Government Coalition and his organization, Widen I-77, was recognized with the 2015 Distinguished Service Award by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.
Despite near-unanimous condemnation, the toll lane project continues to move forward. The contract can and must be cancelled, but that will only happen if we have strong, persistent leadership.
As your commissioner, Kurt will be committed to ensuring our town receives the transportation priority it deserves while spending your tax dollars wisely. Specifically, he looks to:
And, of course, keep fighting to cancel the I-77 toll contract.
The challenge now facing town leadership now is not whether they are for or against the Arts Center. That issue has already been decided by the most important opinion there is: the citizens of Cornelius. We voted for $4 million in bonds to build an Arts Center.
So the issue before us now is to ensure we build and operate the best possible Arts Center we can within the existing fiscal constraints. We’re off to a great start. We have a strong Arts Board composed of citizens who care deeply about this project, and we just hired a director with a track record of success.
As your Commissioner, Kurt sees it as his job to ensure this project fulfills its promise of creating a vibrant town center and revitalizing the surrounding area.
Historically the town has looked at development on a proposal-by-proposal basis. We need to broaden our perspective and better understand how a specific development affects the entire town, not just the vicinity of the project.
We need to improve our tax base toward more commercial development and less residential. To do this we need to attract businesses with good infrastructure, a low tax rate and skilled employees. But it’s important we attract the right kind of business.
As the owner of a local manufacturing business, I’m able to pay good wages and full healthcare benefits for all of my employees. I would like to see more emphasis on attracting higher-paying light industry so people who work here can also live here.