Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Iredell County Commissioner Ken Robertson responds to Report questions

A quick note: Ken Robertson's computer has been on the fritz, and every e-mail that I sent him with questions for the county commission candidates kept bouncing back to me. Robertson found out about our questions when a reader asked him a couple days ago why his responses had not been included on the blog. And Robertson called me that very evening, expressing interest in responding and asking me to send him a copy of the questions. All that to say that the delay in posting Robertson's responses was due to "technical difficulties" and not a disinterest in answering your questions.
Also, I did not edit your questions for content or take out any questions, even if one had already been asked by someone else. That's why you will see some of the same questions asked twice.

Here are Mooresville resident Ken Robertson's response to your questions.

1.What is your position on the CATS 83X bus line and specifically the need for the county to contribute funding to help support this service for the residents of Mooresville/South Iredell?

The county governments are not funded to provide transportation. We do not build or maintain roads. We are responsible for the schools, emergency services, DSS, and Health. The state and feds have responsibility for transportation. Because we do not have the funding, without cutting into education (50%) of our budget, we are unable to subsidize transportation at this time.

2. What proposed funding solutions do you have to address overall traffic issues in Mooresville/South Iredell?

Same answer as above. We cannot increase taxes enough to build roads. The county budget is about $150 million. The BSR road budget to widen a relatively straight and flat road was almost 50 million (give or take based upon latest estimates)......and that was just to widen one road. So as you see, the county is unable to realistically build roads out of the mess. What we can do is slow the number of residents moving into the county.

3.What is your funding solution and solutions in general for bringing commuter rail into Mooresville/South Iredell? Just as a side note, I am very tired of generic, divisive and non-definitive answers - they are no longer acceptable – we need solutions now.

In order for me to support rail, the CATS group needs to allow the fares to cover the cost. There are 150,000 residents. The CATS own projection for ridership is about 350/day. It is difficult to justify a tax increase on 150,000 people to subsidize transportation for that few.

4. What is your position on our school districts in Mooresville/Iredell County? We currently have two. Do you support keeping both districts? Why or why not?

Keep them both. I think Dr. Edwards is going to do GREAT things in the MGSD. I am VERY impressed. The ISS has made some very real improvements in test scores. So if it ain't broke.....

5. Provide your definition of quality of life for Iredell County residents. Is it different for those in Mooresville/South Iredell vs. the rest of the county?

No difference. Most people want to drive without traffic, see beautiful landscapes (farms, forests, pastures), have a variety of shopping and dining opportunities, low crime, a responsive emergency service, and EXCEPTIONAL schools.

6. Do you believe transportation issues have an impact on the quality of life for Mooresville/Iredell County residents? If so, what are your proposed solutions?

Yes they matter. Details already answered above.

7. How would you go about facilitating a more collaborative and productive working relationship with the Town of Mooresville? What you would do to ensure this is a results-driven relationship? Please be specific in your recommendations.

I think we have a very good working relationship. Although there may be party differences, I really to like and respect all the Town Board members. This is a good group.

8. Why should a resident of south Iredell vote for you? What makes you different from the existing commissioners, and how will you represent the interest of the residents of Mooresville/South Iredell?

I am willing to stand up to the out of state developers who come here build a bunch of houses, then leave us with the mess.

9. Who do you support for N.C. governor?

Pat McCrory

10. Should the County partner with other entities such as municipalities like Mooresville & Charlotte (CATS) to provide for Regional Transportation Initiatives such as Commuter Rail and 83X (Commuter Vans). Why or why not, & which is a priority?

Answered above

11. (a) Should the county release ETJ (Extra Territorial Jurisdiction) to municipalities such as Mooresville, Troutman, & Statesville so that their more "urban" planning codes can control the rapid growth, especially in southern Iredell? Why or why not?

Yes for commercial, no for residential. The county needs to adopt some of the same standards as Mooresville, but within our own system. Why can't the county have the same high standards?

11. (b) What is your position on releasing ETJ of the Highway corridors such as NC Highways 115, 21, 150, 801, 70, 90, etc so that the county's municipalities can more effectively manage the growth and traffic patterns leading to our urban centers?

I am on the HWY3 committee and supported doing exactly that.

12. How can the county best partner to meet regional recreational needs such as parks, programs, etc.? Are there effective partnering opportunities with municipalities? If so, what are they?

The problem isn't relationships or partners, the problem is MONEY. All the county's money.....now and in the future, appears to be destined to doing nothing but building new schools for children who just moved here.....and paying interest on those big bonds. If we want parks, we need money, to get money, we have to slow down the school building program, to slow down the school building program, we need fewer kids to move here.

13. Do you support the county's current 2 School system, or should the Mooresville Graded School System be eliminated and rolled into the Iredell-Statesville School System?

Already answered this one

14. What are you going to do to deal with the near gridlock traffic conditions?

That is a state function. The DOT knows my name, my signature, and they have heard me ask, beg, plead, .......you name it, we have done it.

15. How do you plan to control the rampant over-development of our area?

Change the rules for development.....have developers share the cost for new schools.......maybe leave a tree standing, that would be nice! How about adding a lane along the entire length of the property being developed.....Charlotte does that....when the road is developed....it is already 4 lanes....and YOU did not have to pay for it. That will add cost.....and that will slow it down a bit, but it will also have the folks causing the problem to help SOLVE the problem as we go instead of asking the people who have always lived here, and minded their own business, to pay to fix the mess created by overdevelopment.

16. Taxes continue to rise. Where does it stop?

The taxes will stop rising when the RATE, yes....the RATE of residential population growth slows to a level that enables all the government services to keep up. Until then, and this is a VERY hard truth to swallow........taxes will go up. So be smart, elect folks like me that will enact policies that don't "force" your commissioners to raise your taxes and claim they couldn't do anything about it.

17. What will you do to get our area our fair share of transportation dollars? (Am I the only one who wonders why there are 6-lane highways in BFE North Carolina but not in Mooresville-Davidson-Cornelius?)

Having been beaten about the head and shoulders, almost daily, for 4 years over this issue, I can honestly say there in NOTHING I as one person can do to really honestly make a difference you could see. What I can do is educate people how the system, or the process works. People come to commissioners because we are here, you can literally reach out and touch us. We don't have the FUNDING RESPONSIBILITY, but we are available to hear you, so we listen........what I can tell you is this, the Governor swings a lot of power. That is why I think McCrory is our best bet to solve the transportation issue. He has suffered with us through this transportation funding disaster. I think he will fix it. I can mislead you and tell you I can scream, pull strings, or hold my breath longer than the other commissioner candidates while demanding more money.......but that is a half truth......the whole truth can be won, and the whole truth is this battle will be won or lost on the doorstep of the governor's mansion.

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