The November midterm elections saw record voter turnout that ultimately restored divided government to Washington, D.C., and the state of North Carolina.
I believe balanced governance by moderates on both sides of the aisle yields the best results for our country, our state and our city. But at the local level in Charlotte, we did not see a return of party balance. Democrats now enjoy a 9-0 majority on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and were unopposed in winning district attorney, sheriff and clerk of superior court races. This is on top of a Democrat mayor and a 9-2 Democrat majority city council.
As it currently stands, our local governing bodies are free to raise taxes and increase spending without so much as a speed bump of opposition. The sweep of the county commission will have an immediate impact as the board is getting ready to oversee a “countywide tax revaluation that is expected to send property values soaring,” according to The Charlotte Observer. And over the summer, the city council approved a 1-cent property tax hike that included raises of 3 percent or more for the city’s 8,000 employees. The tax increase was on top of fee hikes of $23 for water, $9 for storm water and $7 for trash pickup.
Our country is often ill-served by the concentration of political power in one party’s hands, regardless of which party holds it. Our history is rife with examples where one-party rule has led to corruption and a lack of accountability. It is an inherent part of both human nature and the nature of government.
As if to prove the point, personal finance website WalletHub recently released its rankings for the worst big cities in the country. Of the 150 cities ranked, 15 of the bottom 16 have something in common: They are and have been run by one party for decades. Democrat-run Washington, D.C., ranks dead last in the survey, dubiously winning it the “worst-run city in America” designation, followed closely by New York City and Detroit.
Several of U.S. News & World Report’s top-10 most dangerous cities are also at the bottom of the WalletHub list, including longtime Democrat strongholds such as St. Louis, Atlanta, Baltimore and Cleveland.
Chicago has long been the poster child for the perils of one-party rule. The city last elected a GOP mayor in 1927 and currently endures some of the worst inner-city violence imaginable. In 2017, Chicago witnessed 2,785 shootings — more than seven a day — and 650 murders.
Democrats who’ve run these cities cling to the notion that government spending can conjure up private growth by “investing” in all manner of bureaucratic programs to alleviate any ill in society. So taxes must go up to pay for these government interventions in the private economy that seek equality of outcomes rather than equality of opportunity, resulting in an unbroken string of failures despite good intentions.
Is this the future we want for Charlotte? Right now, the Queen City is still attractive to business, with a skilled workforce, great amenities and a can-do attitude. But we haven’t had balance in our elected governing bodies since 2007, when we last elected a Republican mayor.
We have our glaring problems like any other major metropolis, but the answer to those problems does not lie in limiting ideas and potential solutions to one side of the aisle. I just hope when we look back a decade or more from now that Charlotte does not end up on the dubious list of once-vibrant cities run into the ground by one-party rule.
Frank Dowd IV, chairman of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company, is a registered independent. Charlotte Pipe and Foundry is a 117-year-old U.S. manufacturer of cast iron and plastic pipe and fittings, with seven plants around the country.