My Turn, Darrell Hinnant: Build a stronger council by voting for Rowell, Dixon, Litaker

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 2021

By Darrell Hinnant

Next year, 2022, could be the best year for Kannapolis since the mill closed. 

That statement could seem an exaggeration with all the great things that have happened. Consider a baseball park brought in 250,000 visitors and staff amid COVID-19, VIDA apartments were completely leased in eight months and VIDA II (200 Main) has broken ground with 78 more apartments. According to the Census, our community grew by more than 12,000 persons in the last decade. Thousands of new jobs and many businesses have invested in Kannapolis. How much better could it get? 

Despite those successes, we have so much more to get done. Rarely a week goes by that I’m not discussing with investors about developing residential, commercial, distribution or manufacturing within our city. Downtown is only 40% completed, and by the end of 2022 every parcel could be sold and planned for, with construction started on many. The number of new opportunities is astounding! Many new projects, spread all over the city, are so large they will be phased over several years, but it is easy to see 2022 could start phases that would approach $200 million in new investment with many new jobs.

It is crucial that we join hands with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the K-12 school systems to ensure skilled workers are available.  It is the city’s responsibility to ensure new opportunities bring high-paying jobs. High-paying jobs build wealth, increase home ownership and reduce poverty among our citizens.  

Home prices have soared in Kannapolis. For those who wanted to sell, they have enjoyed unexpected profits. But for people who rent or who want to stay in their homes, they have felt increased pressure to move out. To avoid gentrification, to protect the elderly and those on fixed income, we need an intense planning effort and solutions. Our city council recognized and identified homelessness as a priority to develop solutions.

In addition to the new opportunities that are approaching the city, the last planning retreat prioritized more than 50 projects (ready for action) and 50 studies (work that needs more data). The list includes fire stations, roads/sidewalks and many more.  The level of participation and the skills needed for council persons increases constantly. When I was elected, council met two times per month for less than an hour. Recently, we have been meeting 2 times per month for three to four hours. 

With an election approaching on Nov. 2nd and 11 candidates running for 3 seats, I frequently am asked, “Who should I vote for city council?” 

These are talents and skills that are demanded to build a stronger council for our future. Frequently we have competitive offers from developers for a property. An engineer usually has developed drawings and renderings of their idea.  To have an engineer on council is extremely important. Workforce education will be critical to assist in developing workers for new businesses. Someone with a background in workforce education would be very valuable. Gentrification solutions mean we need someone with skills assisting people and communities. With all those projects and opportunities, someone with planning and zoning experience will be extremely valuable.

Probably the top criteria: we need people with vision —  a vision that will celebrate our legacy and history but to move the community forward at a record pace.  

I endorse the following people because I believe they possess the best skills that will be needed for Kannapolis’ future and all are strong visionaries:

• Van Rowell. He has a master’s degree in engineering. He worked as an engineer for the mill for 22 years. He volunteered to assist with the downtown infrastructure work and the development of the new ballpark. 

• Jeanne Dixon. She is on the board of Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and helped formulate plans for their future in workforce training.  She helped people and communities for 33 years at Cabarrus Social Services.  

• Dr. James Litaker. He has served on planning and zoning boards for 15 years. He is currently on the Kannapolis Planning and Zoning Commission. He has been a successful businessman for 43 years, helping people relieve their pain and suffering. He is vice chair on the YMCA board. He is very interested in bringing projects to Kannapolis that our citizens will enjoy. 

Please vote to build a stronger council.

Darrell Hinnant is mayor of Kannapolis.

Editor’s note: Hinnant is unopposed in the 2021 election and endorsing candidates running in another contest. The Post’s policy of not allowing candidates to write opinion columns or letters to the editor during campaign season is designed to prevent them from endorsing themselves and their policy positions.

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