• 30°

Editorial: Be clear-eyed about need for lobbyists

Particularly amid a pandemic where future revenue is not certain, Rowan County commissioners should ensure they are clear-eyed and sure of their reasoning for unbudgeted expenditures.

That doesn’t seem to be the case for a proposal to hire federal and state lobbyists. Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds on Tuesday justified his request by saying he wants to secure more grant money.

“For the six years that I’ve been commissioner, I’ve been happy for surrounding communities as I’ve seen that they’ve been able to make announcements on federal and state grants,” Edds said. “Frankly, to be honest with you, sometimes I feel like I’m outside in the rain peering through the window watching how the party is going.”

Edds said the county hasn’t ever hired a lobbyist and, as a result, he and other officials started talking to EQV Strategic, a lobbying firm based in North Carolina. After roughly an hour of conversation during Tuesday’s meeting, Edds said that he was ready to “move ahead.”

But there wasn’t a clear definition about what commissioners hoped to achieve by hiring a lobbyist, other than Edds’ statement. It’s better to present a narrowly tailored task than to start a relationship with an undefined goal. That’s why it was good to see commissioners Judy Klusman, Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey ask for more time. County officials should press pause indefinitely on hiring a lobbyist, whether its EQV Strategic or anyone, until there’s a specific goal.

If the goal is to secure grants, hiring a lobbying firm is like using a shotgun to kill a fly. It’s the wrong tool for the job. If commissioners feel like they’re missing out on grants, the best solution is to hire a talented grant writer — a position they previously voted to create but no longer appears to be on the staff list.

Another point: Rowan County has experienced legislators who have proven their worth in securing money for the community. From money for a stage in the town of Faith to $1.5 million for the N.C. Transportation Museum in a recently passed round of COVID-19 relief, local legislators have brought home plenty of bacon. But if there’s money we’re missing out on, it’s important to decide which lobbying firm is best.

With experienced Republican legislators who have developed a good relationship, just how valuable is hiring a lobbying firm with a background in Republican Party politics? Would it be more valuable to hire a balanced firm or one with a background in Democratic Party politics? Maybe Rowan County actually needs to hire a firm with deeper roots in Washington, D.C.

For better or worse, lobbyists are a part of modern politics, and it’s critical that Rowan County commissioners do a better job of defining what they’re looking for before they take a final vote.

Comments

Local

Political Notebook: Interim health director to talk COVID-19 at county Democrats breakfast

Local

‘Their names liveth forevermore:’ Officials dedicate Fire Station No. 6 to fallen firefighters Monroe, Isler

Crime

Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking into Salisbury high, getting juvenile to help

Nation/World

With virus aid in sight, Democrats debate filibuster changes

Local

City officials differ on how, what information should be released regarding viral K-9 officer video

High School

High school basketball: Carson girls are 3A champions

Lifestyle

High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Local

With jury trials set to resume, impact of COVID-19 on process looms

Legion baseball

Book explores life of Pfeiffer baseball coach Joe Ferebee

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education to receive update on competency-based education

Business

Biz Roundup: Kannapolis expects to see economic, housing growth continue in 2021

Business

A fixture of downtown Salisbury’s shopping scene, Caniche celebrates 15th anniversary this month

Local

Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Landis

Landis officials narrow search for new manager to five candidates; expect decision within a month

Lifestyle

Together at last: High school, college sweethearts marry nearly 50 years later

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools sorts out transportation logistics in preparation for full-time return to classes

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Eight new COVID-19 deaths, 203 positives reported in county this week