MAYORAL ELECTION

Foxx vs. Lassiter

[ NOTE: We are keeping the comment column below, originally posted the day before the election, in order to solicit your responses. To read the 10 questions asked of the candidates at the CABA Mayoral Face-off held in October, CLICK: Faceoff ]

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Comments from Martin Zimmerman / Exec. Director – For the past decade, beginning with the passage of an earlier city-wide bike plan, outgoing Mayor Pat McCrory never waivered in his enthusiastic and sustained support of bicycling as part of a multi-modal transportation and recreation strategy. He has consistently stressed that bicycling be totally integrated with the street, bus, light-rail and greenway systems of our community. He has served our cause faithfully and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude.The same can be said for the strong bipartisan support from City Council during this time period.

It was not until the crucial votes  on the Urban Street Design Guidelines and the updated Bicycle Master Plan in 2007-08 that such support began to falter. In both cases divisions occurred mostly along party lines and in both cases it was John Lassiter who took the contrary lead.

The bicycle community spoke loud and clear. Hundreds of emails in support were garnered by CABA and presented to City Council. Bicycle supporters attended and testified on vote nights. Telephone calls were made.

No doubt candidate Lassiter was well aware when he graciously accepted CABA’s invitation to participate in “Mayoral Face-off” event last month that he was being watched closely for signs that he would alter or amend his previous position. And yet, when asked why he voted the way he did, he offered no explanations or caveats other than those he voiced at City Council. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine that he actually expects much support from bicycle interests in this election. Mr. Lassiter is a savvy and seasoned politician; he is not naive.

What happens after Tuesday may be another matter. This is because regardless of  who claims victory, that person must, by necessity, provide leadership in a recessionary climate. This means that the $$$ bottom line will be even more critical than in recent memory.

There is a likelihood that neither Foxx nor Lassiter will support our interests to the level they deserve under such circumstances. Nor may the voters-at-large, the City Manager or City Council. Annual budgets for street improvements may decrease. The 2010 transportation bond issue may fail to succeed, which would mean that the bike budget will hold constant instead of doubling. In other words, storm clouds loom ahead which may stall progress on the bicycling front regardless of who is elected Mayor. But as far as Tuesday is concerned how the bicycle community votes should not be a guessing game for either candidate.

The real challenge ahead will be to articulate the best case possible for bicycling within a highly constrained political and economic environment.

Submit your comments on how best to represent our cause to Mayor Anthony Foxx and the newly elected City Council by clicking the comment bubble below.

NOTE: The statements above do not necessarily represent those of the CABA Board of Directors or the membership at large. As a 501- ( c ) – 3 corporation, CABA is not permitted by law to endorse candidates.

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