“If elected…”

Many Weddington residents received a mailing last week from a group named Western Union Fire Safety or WUFS.  The mailing didn’t list the names of the members of WUFS nor did it indicate who paid for the mailing.  Listing names usually adds credibility to a cause, but maybe not in this case.

The group is opposed to the Town of Weddington creating a municipal fire district where the county would stop collecting fire fees and fire taxes from the houses in Weddington and the town would increase its property tax rate to cover the cost of fire service in Weddington.  The town would redraw the fire lines within Weddington, so that each house is served by the closest fire station under contract with the town.  This is the direction I said I would take, if elected, when I ran for mayor.

On Monday, I received an e-mail published by WUFS that said, “We have learned that Mayor Walker Davidson is planning to present creating a Municipal Fire District for Weddington to the County Commission.”  This was never the case, but the group didn’t bother to verify with me what they had “learned.”  Those of you who know me know that I attend the county commission meetings on a regular basis regardless of what is on the agenda.  I suppose the group was trying to suggest that if I was seen at a county commission meeting, people should be concerned.

I was glad to see members of WUFS at the county commission meeting on Monday night.  It was good to see the people who have been telling the Weddington town council that fire service is a county issue, finally go to a meeting where they could tell the county that fire service is a county issue.

Once the identities of some of the members (they have 7) of WUFS were revealed, people could quickly come to the conclusion that WUFS could just as easily stand for Weddington’s Unelected Few Speakout.

One member ran unsuccessfully for town council in 2009.  Another member, Stephanie Belcher, just completed an unsuccessful campaign for mayor where she stated that, if elected, she would support the town’s move to a municipal fire district.  Another member, Jerry McKee, recently lost his re-election bid for town council.  As a member of the town council, McKee voted for a municipal fire district on October 10. McKee lost the election on November 8. On November 14 McKee voted to rescind the vote for the municipal fire district.

I think it’s unfair to describe the behavior of Belcher and McKee as some sort of John Kerry moment where they were for it before they were against it.  Many times when candidates answer questions, they begin their answers with two words, “if elected.”  They seldom say what they will do if they are not elected.  If Belcher and McKee had been asked what they would do if not elected I assume they would have said that their next step would be to create a group to oppose those who were elected by the people and if they needed to switch sides on an issue in order to generate interest, then so be it.

One of the recipients of the WUFS mailing told me that it’s hard to know who to believe in politics.  I think the recent behavior of Belcher and McKee adds to that feeling.  Unfortunately, it does take some effort to be an informed and active voter.

The Weddington town council is in the process of gathering information regarding a municipal fire district.  Once that process is complete, I plan to ask the town council to add this item to the town meeting agenda.  At that town council meeting we will present the pros and cons of our plan of action and listen to input from the citizens of Weddington.  I don’t think this process should come as a surprise to anyone.  Although, I do realize that this was not the process used by the previous town council prior to the October 10 vote on a municipal fire district.

Walker Davidson

Mayor of Weddington

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