Davidson’s Peaceful Transfer of Power
The peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of America’s electoral system, and has remained one of the greatest accomplishment of our founding fathers these many years since our beginnings.
The peaceful transfer of power occurred at Davidson’s Town Hall on Tuesday evening, December 12, 2017, as the new mayor and town board members were sworn in to a standing room only crowd. The four board members who left elected office, Stacey Anderson, Beth Cashion, Rodney Graham, and Brian Jenest, and the mayor, John Woods, all received standing ovations when they were given Resolutions of Appreciation by the town. They each reflected on their time in office in brief remarks.
The newly elected board members, Jane Campbell, Matthew Fort, Autumn Rierson Michael, and David Sitton were given hearty rounds of applause, as well, after they were sworn in, as was Jim Fuller, the only returning board member. Fuller, also, was elected Mayor Pro Tem by his fellow board members.
The new mayor, Rusty Knox, was sworn in by his wife, Danielle and Judge Eric Levinson, who spoke about the history of the Oath of Office in North Carolina prior to delivering the oath itself. After a standing ovation, Mayor Knox assumed his seat at the dais, along with the board members for 2017-2019. They conducted their first official meeting before adjourning for the night.
Mayor Woods made the following remarks of encouragement to the elected leaders and citizens before turning over the gavel to Mayor Knox:
“I am leaving at the dais the gavel that was presented to me ten years ago by the first Board I served with as Mayor. A gavel is, of course, an important symbol and it meant a great deal to me to be given this affirming gift by my board. I am proud to say that I never had to use it. And now I will pass it along to our new mayor, in hopes that he also finds it unnecessary.
I thank you for the opportunity to say a few words about what an honor and privilege it has been to serve my home town, and I know it will be just that for those who were elected this past November. It is a unique responsibility to be a servant leader, as former Davidson College President John Kuykendall, encouraged us to be. We who lead, also serve in the best sense of the word.
In my twenty years in public office, I have witnessed the best in humanity. Neighbors helping neighbors, supporting one another in times of joy and in times of grief. I have seen thoughtful, unselfish, and objective decision-making on the town board and on all our various volunteer committees. This is the Davidson I know.
We have dared to dream that Davidson could look to its history, while embracing new ideas. From roundabouts to greenways, open space, affordable housing, vibrant new retail and commercial endeavors, we have faced our future with optimism and found creative solutions to many issues.
The things that I have learned in public office were first taught to me at home. My dad and mother were missionaries in China, which is where they met. They settled in Davidson and devoted their lives to our family and this community.
From them, I learned that in order to lead, one must serve a greater cause, beyond one’s own door. I hope you will find ways for this work you do to be about everyone in our community.
I found, as my father told me, that trust and respect are earned because of what we do, not what we say. Day in and day out, in this most public of arenas, we have to say what we mean and mean what we say and act accordingly. I hope that you will take considerable pride in the work of your office because you are trusted by citizens to be people of your word.
We know that things like air quality, water quality, water quantity, and traffic do not respect town borders. Consequently, we must find ways to work productively with our neighboring communities, all the way from Charlotte to Statesville. If one of those communities has a coal ash spill, it definitely will affect us, so the good of the region often works to our good, as well. However, we have to think locally, too, and pay attention to our public safety, our lower wealth citizens, our children, our planning principles, our park and rec programs, and all of the things that make life in Davidson so special. I hope that you will find organizations and programs in town that will make your lives richer and fuller.
Thoughtful, well informed decision-making can sometimes require courage and it always requires cooperation, preparation, and consensus. But it can be great fun to build relationships and work together. I hope that you all will have those happy moments when you think, “we are really doing good work for the town we love.”
It has been a special privilege for me to get to work with the young people in our community. The Scouts, students learning about civics, athletes, our high school council, and many other student organizations have been steady participants at Town Hall. Kids I worked with years ago are now grown, and I still hear from them about how they liked learning about their hometown. I hope to stay involved in meaningful experiences for the young people who call Davidson home, and I hope that you will have the opportunity to work with them, too.
Another gift of my time in public service has been the chance to work with this incredibly talented and devoted staff. Their intelligence, selflessness, and passion to do good work is unparalleled among towns in our state. I hope that you will get to know them and enjoy the chance to work side-by-side with them.
Davidson’s future is bright. You have a seat at an important table. Our unique community now rests in your hands. And you have my support and my wishes for your success in keeping it unique. I hope that you find these years provide you the best work you have ever done.