Randall R. Kincaid and the Order of the Long Leaf Pine
The members of Randy Kincaid’s last board with which he served as mayor wanted to nominate him to receive the Order of the Longleaf Pine for service to state and community. It was my honor to write this nomination letter, and it describes only a fraction of how much we admired and loved Randy, and how much we learned because of his leadership. Randy did receive this much deserved recognition upon his retirement in 2007.
For ten years, Randy Kincaid has guided the Town of Davidson with subtlety and grace. As a mentor and consummate role model, his effective leadership has been characterized by the combination of intellectual prowess and his deeply held values of open communication and compassion.
Randy has the gifts of the mind to dissect any thorny dilemma that we may face in public office, by studying and reflecting on all sides of an issue. He understands the increasingly complex world in which we now live and the place of municipal government in making better the lives of our citizens. He does not leap to conclusions. Rather, he projects well into the future the cause and effect of our decisions, being determined that what we do today will serve generations as yet unborn.
One of the hallmarks of Randy’s time as mayor is that he wields his gavel so rarely, preferring instead to give every voice a chance to be heard and understood. During his tenure, the town created the Town Message, established its website, and initiated work sessions and charrettes to give citizens more opportunities to participate in open discussions of the issues.
Compassion is inherent in Randy’s approach to people and, thus, to finding solutions that serve their needs. Randy talked about affordable housing before the term was even adopted officially by the town in its ordinance. Almost 30 years ago, he was one of the founders of our local Habitat chapter, and his sweat equity is evident in many of the Habitat houses that were first built in Davidson.
Later during his 18-year tenure on the Town Board, when our new land planning indicated that we were at great risk to lose housing for our lower wealth citizens, Randy formed an affordable housing committee in 1995 to study the problem and make recommendations to the town for dealing with it. Out of this study, the Davidson Housing Coalition (DHC) was born. In its first months of existence, the DHC had an opportunity to buy and save an affordable house; however, the DHC had no money and no way to raise money because it was so new. Randy stepped in and used his own home equity line to purchase the house. He made the great leap of faith that DHC would become self-sustaining and would repay his loan. Both of those things did happen, but it was Randy’s initial belief in DHC that made it possible for it to become the organization that it is today.
One of the characteristics of great leaders is that they will strive to do new things and to make things better. But, as Machiavelli said, “there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Our new land planning, while actually attempting to preserve the best of our past as we moved forward, appeared, at first blush, to be dramatically new. And, as always when something new was attempted, there was resistance and controversy. But Randy realized that simply to maintain the status quo was a formula for mediocrity, and that was certainly not his way. His ability see past the fray and his courage to lead the Town in that direction was a huge factor in developing the plan and realizing its vision.
The ten years of Randall Kincaid’s tenure as mayor and the years before that when he served on the town board and gave unselfishly of his time in many volunteer efforts will be long remembered for the civility, intellect, humanity, and courage he exhibited. Aristotle noted, “in the arena of human life, the honors and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities.” Randy’s good qualities are in full evidence in Davidson, a town whose destiny has been shaped and uplifted by his service to all its citizens.
Marguerite (Margo) Williams is a novelist ("Madame President"), editor, and business owner of A Way With Words. She has lived in Davidson since 1977. Visit her at her website.