|J. Scott Padgett
J. Scott Padgett was elected to the position of Mayor in 2001 after serving on the City Council since 1995. A longtime resident of Concord, Scott is a retired elementary school principal who received his undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University, Master of Education Degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and an Advanced Degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Very active in the community, Scott is a member of the Concord Rotary Club (Paul Harris Fellow and former Board of Directors member), and All Saints Episcopal Church. He is a past member of the North Carolina League of Municipalities Board of Directors, is an active participant in the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and is a current board member of the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Cabarrus Boys & Girls Club and Cabarrus Bank & Trust. He is a member of the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Board of Trustees, has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, and has been honored with the Order of The Long Leaf Pine.
Prior to becoming an elected official of the City, Mayor Padgett served as a member of Concord’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He is married and has one child and three grandchildren. Mayor Padgett states, “I have always been impressed with the leadership in Concord, and it is an honor to serve the citizens. We have many challenges today, but they are no greater than those faced by our forefathers. Working together, we can make this an even better place in which to live and work.”
A Message from the Mayor
Local decision-making is critical to our future
I was riding through town on July 4 and noticed something that stuck out among the many people enjoying a day off and the red, white, and blue—a Concord Water Resources crew making an emergency repair. We are so assured our needed utilities and services will be there that we seldom think about them. Fortunately, there are many who think about them for us. This is just one example of what we enjoy by living here. Hundreds of dedicated City staff members are ready to respond to keep life moving, no matter the day or time.
This may not surprise you, but I think it is worth saying: I love living in a city, specifically, this city. People live in cities because it makes sense. Living near our jobs, schools, places of worship, and businesses makes life easier. Being in close proximity to neighbors makes it easier to help each other out. Humans are created to be social, and cities are the original social network.
I understand that some prefer a more rural way of life. That is actually a good thing if you ask me… North Carolina's diversity of landscapes and lifestyles is what makes our state such an appealing place. Unfortunately, not all appreciate this mix. Many in the North Carolina General Assembly have declared war on cities.
This is a big problem because in North Carolina, cities exist and are only allowed to function with permission of the state legislature. We are at the mercy of the very body attacking us. "Our cities are increasingly being squeezed by mandates that are put upon them by the legislature while their revenues are being taken away," says former state senator and Carrboro mayor Ellie Kinnaird
The Salisbury Post
sees the writing on the wall, that with state interference into local revenues, "cities and towns will have to raise taxes or reduce services to make up…"
The Greensboro News & Record asks an important question, "what becomes of our progressive cities if their ability to make their own decisions is overridden by a not-so-progressive state legislature?"
80 percent of economic development in America occurs in cities.
Cities are expected to grow at the rate of 30 percent each year.
By 2040, 67 percent of Americans will live in cities.
For the good of our country and state, North Carolina's cities must have the authority to control local issues and policies. Shouldn't state legislators hold a similar position? Their outcry about interference from Washington, DC into state affairs is commonly heard but not supported by their actions against municipalities. Local elected officials are closest to the people they represent. We live here, are elected here, drive local roads, and go to local churches. We know local issues first hand and are held accountable for our ability to respond to them.
Each municipality should have its own personality, rather than be constrained to a one-size-fits-all set of rules from Raleigh on how to govern. Legislators have held up isolated examples of abuse as their reasoning to apply fixes to local issues such as water systems and airports. When asked by Concord elected officials, they freely admitted we do not have any of those problems here. If there are local problems, then why not work on local solutions with county and municipal elected officials, rather than apply broad action to regions or even the entire state?
There is no better reason to end this madness than economic development. Cities are where growth and prosperity will take place in our future. At the same time, there are opportunities for the state's rural and urban areas to work together for the good of all. Local governments should have the ability to manage this growth and all that comes with it as they see fit.
For many years, bringing jobs to our community has been one of City Council's top one concerns. We have been successful over the years at attracting investment and thousands of jobs to Concord. In order for this to continue and to best serve the community, we need the flexibility to respond to local needs and meet local priorities.
I believe we must remain focused in four areas:
1. Continue adequate funding to maintain our transportation and utility infrastructure. Roads and bridges, sidewalks, public transit, air transportation, as well as electric, water, and sewer systems are all crucial to everyday life and development of business.
2. Dedication to long-term resilience and decision-making. Protecting our environment and natural resources such as water and energy, but also making the best use of economic resources and financial stewardship.
3. Stay aggressive and competitive in economic development and job creation. Forty-seven percent of the labor force is women, and 62 percent hold minimum wage jobs. One third of all women are living below the poverty line. New and better-paying jobs for all segments of our population are the best way to address income inequality.
4. Provide great K-12 education and job training. In North Carolina, public schools are a state and county responsibility. But, Concord should continue to be active supporters of good education to meet needs of today's students. This is a moral and economic issue. If our state and county had the best schools in the region and nation, there would be no need for incentives to bring good-paying jobs in the future. We would be the desired place to invest, work, and live.
The political environment in Raleigh has been disheartening to say the least. However, it makes me especially appreciative of our City Council. Together with the City's staff members who work around the clock to keep our community going, I know we will continue to be the best place to live, work, and play in North Carolina. Let's hope our state legislators will soon remember where they all come from: cities, towns, and counties.