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Editorial: 10 years from now in Rowan

One question posed by moderator Dr. Michael Bitzer at Tuesday night’s county commission candidate forum may have inspired the candidates as much as it challenged them.

Bitzer read the question exactly as it was submitted.

“My name is John Barnette,” the moderator read. “I’m an eighth grade home schooler in Rowan County, and I’m in attendance at this debate. My question is, what do you want Rowan County to look like 10 years from now, right after I’ve graduated from college?”

How’s that for putting political ambitions into perspective — knowing an eighth grader is looking to you to shape the community he might come home to after college? That is, if he doesn’t follow his career calling somewhere else.

Developing an economy and community that will pull Rowan County’s college-educated young people home was a recurring theme in the candidate forum. There are a lot of things to like about Rowan County, but to 20-somethings looking in the rearview mirror, job opportunities are hard to spot.

Several people submitted questions for Bitzer to consider asking at the forum. JohnBarnette was by far the youngest, and his question was the most concrete — “10 years from now, right after I’ve graduated from college.”

John sat in the audience with his parents, Kara and Tim Barnette, and two siblings, and the candidates addressed him directly. In a brief interview afterwards, John said he submitted the question because he “just wanted to get involved” in the commissioners’ race.

What would he like Rowan County to look like in 10 years?

Without hesitation, John said he’d like to see a little more growth, more water and sewer services and school board improvements. He added that the candidates answered the question well and they were all qualified to be commissioner.

Consider this a brush with the future. Today’s politicians will be answering to John and his peers before you know it. Rowan County is heading into a new era.

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