I have been proud to call North Carolina my home since I was a young child and my parents moved back to attend Appalachian State University and become teachers. I was educated in the public schools, attended Davidson College and Wake Forest Law School, and decided to start my law career here in North Carolina.
When my wife Janice and I decided to start our own family, we knew right where to go. We moved to Raleigh in early 2001, and we have loved being part of the growth and progress that Wake County has seen in those 15 years. Our three children all attend Wake County Public Schools, and we are deeply rooted and invested in this community. Wake County's quality of life, excellent public schools, booming economy, and potential for an unrivaled future drew us here and keep us here.
I ran for Wake County Commissioner to preserve that quality of life and to help shape Wake County into the kind of place I know my children will want to return to raise their own families some day. This County has provided them with a solid foundation on which to build their dreams, and we can do that for every child.
It is my honor to serve you as your Commissioner. When my colleagues and I took office in December, relations between the County Commission and the School Board had reached an all-time low, with teachers and students paying the price. A transit plan had been bottled up for over five years, with no progress toward a transit solution to our growing traffic issues, and the County Commission had a reputation of being a very political and antagonistic place to be.
We promised to move Wake County forward on all those fronts, and we have followed through. This year, working with the School Board, we passed a responsible and careful budget which provides the largest one year boost to school investment in Wake County's history, while keeping our property taxes the lowest in the region. We have continued to invest in the preservation of open space and the protection of our water resources. We passed a historic investment in arts education programs and Smart Start to supplement the work our schools are doing.
We have worked diligently to improve relations with the school board, and treat all persons who come before our board with respect and attention.
And we are finally moving forward on transit, with a public process that has sought out participation from all areas of the county. A proposal will be presented before the end of 2015, and placed on the ballot for your approval in 2016.
We still have much to do, including tackling Wake County's mental health care and affordable housing crisis, confronting the challenges posed by growth, continuing to invest in schools for the future, and continuing to sell Wake County to the international business community as a place eager for investment and brimming with opportunity.
Thank you for your trust and support as we have undertaken this job. While you're here, have a look around. Check out what we've accomplished together so far, and where we are headed. Wake County is moving forward.