By NC Senator Bob Atwater (Ret.)
Pittsboro, NC – Prior to running for the NC Senate in 2004, I had the honor and duty of serving as a Chatham County Commissioner. My tenure as a Commissioner afforded me insight into how a county like Chatham successfully navigates the elements of unending change, and how experience and relationship building is critical to success.
Early in my state Senate career, I and Speaker Joe Hackney both sought out Commissioner Cross for key committee appointments working on State initiatives. Mike understands the role that county governments can and ought to play in state-wide conversations, and that partnership building is essential to the success of the County and the State.
Commissioner Cross’ support for education in Chatham has been impressive, understanding that education is an integral part of Chatham’s success. Supporting opportunities for engagement between the Chatham Schools, Central Carolina Community College, workforce development efforts and Chatham’s Economic Development Corp, Mike strengthens these crucial relationships.
Commissioner Mike Cross is a strong supporter for our environment. Our local coal ash situation provides a prime example of the strength of his environmental leadership. The General Assembly severely constrained local governments’ legislative authority as it relates to coal ash matters. Therefore, you either negotiate something for the county or you will otherwise certainly be left with nothing. Commissioner Cross took unfair criticism for his part in negotiating an agreement with Duke Energy on the legislatively inevitable coal ash disposal in Chatham.
The concluded ~ $19M agreement called for a maximum of 12M tons of ash to be transported to Chatham County for deposit. Mike’s dogged efforts were successful in getting Duke to include in that 12M tons, more than 5 million tons of ash from an existing dirty ash site near the Haw River, situated at the closed Cape Fear Power Plant. Additionally, Duke consented to pay five years of ad valorem taxes on the closed plant (over $570K) and make a $300K contribution to the Moncure Volunteer Fire District to assist in reducing its debt. Finally and very importantly, the negotiated agreement provided funds to monitor the disposal area for pollution as well as insure Duke’s overall compliance with their permit. In the contextual view of the difficult circumstances surrounding the coal ash issue, this was a victory for Chatham County.
It is this experience and engagement, particularly during these complicated times, which make Commissioner Mike Cross without question the best candidate for the job. I want someone with experience who understands Chatham, its people, and its future. I want someone who is willing to make the hard decisions, even if it is not always politically expedient to do so.
For all the above sound reasons, I strongly support Mike Cross for Chatham District 2 Commissioner. I also respectfully and strongly commend his candidacy to my fellow Chatham County citizens.