Union County Pulse
Ten years ago on Dec 10, I was first sworn into office as Waxhaw Town Commissioner. I was 28 years old and had no idea what I was doing. I came in pounding my fist on the table, vowing to correct all that was wrong with Waxhaw. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do that, nor did I really have any idea of the magnitude of all that was wrong. It didn’t take me long to realize that, in fact, there was nothing at all wrong with Waxhaw. What I saw from the outside that seemed so corrupt became clearly straightforward once I took the time to learn the policies and the processes for decision making on a local level. After that realization, I knew that I needed to make Waxhaw’s government more clear and transparent to the citizens. I did that by managing Waxhaw’s first website and newsletter. Also, I often would stop meetings when discussions became convoluted to try to put complex issues is simple terms … more often than not, that was as much for my benefit as for others.
Those ten years represents a lot more than serving as a Waxhaw town commissioner. It represents missed story times, delayed vacations, cold dinners, and time away from my family. I recognize that if not for my family, that there is no way that I would be here today. My perspective has always been from that of a husband or a father. The decisions that I made were always made with my family in mind. When answers were not always clear, I would consider what my children and family needed in their community and the answers became apparent. Their sacrifice for this town has been huge, and I thank and love them for supporting me these last ten years.
Notice that I don’t say that I ‘worked’ for Waxhaw. Never did I consider what I have done here work. I have enjoyed what I do immensely to the point that I had fun being a commissioner. I have met more people and made more friends over the last ten years than I could have ever imagined. They are who made it so much fun. I never subscribed to the thought that just because my mail came to Town Hall addressed the ‘The Honorable Martin Lane’ that I had to be this stuffy, proper, ‘all business’ kind of person. I laughed, joked, and had fun, but never compromised my morals or ethics, nor did I ever take my position for granted, or the decisions that had to be made lightly.
I don’t have much advice to offer the new Board, I will mention one thing. Everyone in this room is bound by law. As a commissioner, you will be bound by a code of ethics. I will take that a step further. As mentioned earlier, you will start to receive mail addressed as ‘Honorable’, and you have to conduct yourself as such. You need to recognize that once you are sworn in, that you are a Waxhaw town commissioner and mayor 24/7 and that what you do, day in, and day out reflects on the entire town. Your personal conduct and behavior inside and outside of these meetings will be scrutinized by the public. When people talk about Waxhaw, it needs to be a positive, not a punch line.
I mentioned that I never ‘worked’ for Waxhaw. That’s not to say that there is not a lot of work to be done. The dirty little secret is that commissioners do little of that work. It is the great staff who works for the residents who do all the work. I have often joked that it is the staff who makes me look good. Years ago, I discussed with staff the possibility of developing an athletic complex behind Kensington Elementary. They made it happen. One Sunday, while at a family reunion in Elkin, I sent staff a picture of their park and asked why our park couldn’t be that nice. They made it happen. Years ago, I asked for lights on the buildings in Downtown, and you see what we have today. This Board meets twice a month for a few hours and directs staff to draft policies, develop strategies, negotiate contracts, build sidewalks, control crime, and complete infinite other tasks, and we come back a month later and it is done. When trains derail (literally and figuratively) I know that there is no need for me to run down to the scene, set up a command post, commission monuments, and get in the way. We have skilled, qualified, trained professionals handling any situation that may arise. I sleep well at night knowing that we are all in such capable hands. I would wager that their commitment to this town rivals that of any of your elected officials, me included. We owe them all a debt of gratitude, and I want to publicly thank them for their tireless work and dedication to this town. I consider each of these individuals a personal friend and look forward to seeing them for years to come.
Thank you for ten great years.