Union County Needs You!

About David Williams

Father. Husband. Attorney. Businessman. Constitutional Conservative.

David grew up in Denver, Colorado and graduated cum laude from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee with a B.A. in Economics. Subsequently, he began a career in financial services as a Registered Investment Advisor, Registered Representative and insurance broker.

David made North Carolina home when he moved here in 1997. After a successful career in financial services, he embarked on a career change and entered law school in 2010 in his 40s. Today David works as an attorney in Union county as a sole practitioner and can often be seen in the courthouse in downtown Monroe. He knows how to read contracts, interpret financial statements and ask good questions, and intends to bring these skills to the Union County Board of Commissioners.

David and his wife Emily live in Indian Trail, and have two teenage sons in Union County Public Schools and a daughter at NC State.

The Issues

Undoubtedly the #1 issue in this election is the 33% water utility rate increase approved by a 3-2 majority of the current board on December 2nd.

Commissioners Rushing and Helms voted against the rate hike and Commissioners Aikmus, Simpson, and Rape voted for it. This increase will be implemented in two stages through a 15.5% increase on February 1st and another 15.5% increase on January 1st, 2021. It is important to keep in mind that rates have already been increasing annually at 6.5%

With these new monies the current majority intends to help underwrite nearly one billion dollars in capital projects, with the lion share going to the ill-advised Yadkin water project. Indeed, the same majority that voted to increase your rates also voted the same day to authorize these capital projects. The Yadkin plan involves a scheme to build an intake and pump station in Norwood, Stanly county off Lake Tillery and move that water into northern Union county. New treatment facilities, sewer plant and above-ground sewer storage will follow.

I stand firmly opposed to these rate hikes and the Yadkin project. Responsible policymaking doesn’t entail breakneck development subsidized on the backs of current ratepayers. If this Yadkin project isn’t stopped the resulting unbridled growth will lead to big property tax increases in order to pay for more schools and more roads. Make no mistake: Commissioners who are comfortable raising your utility rates 33% won’t blink at the prospect of raising your property taxes similarly. If this project is not stopped, it will ruin the quality of life we now enjoy in Union county.

There are better and less expensive alternatives for meeting our water needs. Our shared facility with Lancaster county is a fine example of delivering water right, and currently accounts for approximately 70-80% of our needs. There are aquifers all along our South Carolina border that recharge at the rate of over one billion gallons/day. We also have an agreement with Anson county currently in place. In short, there are a multitude of options for meeting our water needs over many decades to come that don’t involve a massive wealth transfer from ratepayers and taxpayers to the developer community.

I will look with a skeptical eye at plans that come before me for high-density development. The plain truth is that most high-density development comes at too high a cost in terms of overcrowded schools and congested roadways. I won’t pledge to reflexively dismiss all such development, however, any such plans will have to pass a high bar with me.

We need to embrace more robust commercial development. Unlike much residential development, commercial projects will often “pay for themselves”, and more folks living and working here means fewer burdens on our roadways.

Emergency services should not be held hostage to politics. Where there is a public need we devote ourselves to meeting it.

To my fellow citizens who are still on private wells with dangerous levels of arsenic: I am your advocate. Help is on the way.

Commissioners serve on many regional committees that are tasked with mediating, managing and solving big issues that go beyond the county line. We need great representation for Union county, and another commissioner who will ask great questions. In CRTPO we need an advocate who will make sure we get all the federal transit dollars we are due and not in ignorance leave money on the table year after year.

Can we talk ETJ? If you’re unfamiliar with the term it stands for Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, and relates to the power of municipalities under NC statute to manage to some degree land use and development outside their municipal limits but within their peripheral area. Roughly two-thirds or all North Carolina municipalities exercise ETJ, but here in Union County only four of our municipalities do so. Municipalities don’t need extra state or county permission to exercise ETJ. It can be accomplished by passing a local ordinance under the authority afforded under current statutes. It’s important to note there is no municipal power to tax inside the ETJ and no right of the citizens in the ETJ to vote on municipal matters. What ETJ gives the municipality is solely the power to manage planning and land development in its periphery.

I recognize that the right to exercise ETJ is unique to each municipality. Some towns may decide it’s not right for them. However, keep in mind that planning and land use decisions will get made either by the county or the municipality. I’m a big believer in pushing decisions down to as local a level as possible in ways that make sense. To the extent that the county does less land use and planning, and the municipalities do more, I think we’ll likely have better results and fewer frayed nerves at county commissioner and planner board meetings. Municipalities will often plan better in their own periphery, and do it in a way that is more consistent with the local character and needs of that area. Municipalities may also benefit from negotiating interlocal agreements with their municipal neighbors over these issues.