Chamber ‘shadow government’ should cease

Editor,
Given the controversial role of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce president, Bill Russell, in matters pertaining to local government, I suggest that the Chamber should be dropped as a co-sponsor of the scheduled Oct. 18 forum featuring candidates for Davidson Town Board and Mayor – to be held at St. Alban’s Church.
The Chamber is not a neutral organization; it has a political agenda. For too long it has been over-involved in the activities of local governments – sometimes creating conflicts of interest – and often it is allowed to act as a sort of “shadow government” in the towns of north Mecklenburg.

– William E. Jackson Jr., Davidson

Davidson’s push for health initiatives great for residents
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to one published in the Sept. 23 edition of the Herald Weekly

Editor,
Mr. MacDonald considers the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s grant award a waste of federal tax dollars. Perhaps he doesn’t understand the importance of the CDC/Davidson partnership.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says, “The (Health Impact Assessment) framework is used to bring potential public health impacts and considerations to the decision-making process for plans, projects, and policies that fall outside of traditional public health arenas, such as transportation and land use.”
My health is important to me. My community’s health is important to me. I am very interested in knowing how policies proposed by the state legislature or our local officials are going to affect my health. I’d also like to know how proposed developments may affect the health of the residents who live or work here. This grant will provide that information.  I am proud that our town cares enough about its citizens to be on the cutting edge of this relatively new tool. I’m also proud our town takes a thoughtful and holistic approach to individual and community health.
If Mr. MacDonald believes, as he states, that Davidson is no different than anywhere else, he needs to open his eyes and look around. A walk though our town would do him good.  Thoughtful planning has produced walkable streets, a great Main street infill, South Main’s funky design and the traffic circles at exit 30. Anyone with unbiased, open eyes will see that Davidson is unique. Our town is one of the most desirable places to live in the county, region and state. It didn’t just “happen.” Our planning ordinances, town officials and vigilant residents have worked hard to make it and keep it this way.
In an era of rampant obesity and metabolic disease, the Health Impact Assessment will become an essential tool to recognize potential negative health outcomes, just as Environmental Impact Assessments recognize outcomes that degrade our environment. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that 68 percent of the US population is overweight or worse. In many areas of our state (and others) this is clearly evident. If you look around Davidson this is not so evident – could it be that many Davidsonians prefer a healthy lifestyle? Davidson Town leadership has worked hard to provide a pedestrian friendly community; we can walk and bike safely around our town. Our deliberate pace of life also contributes to a vibrant, healthy community.
Mr. MacDonald implies the $350,000 grant would be better spent on cancer research. This Health Impact Assessment will investigate how Davidson core values, planning and policy affects our health.  What if this study links the healthy lifestyle and policies of Davidson to reduced risk of cancer? Sadly too many simple minded Americans think there is a “silver bullet” for every disease and do not maintain the healthy lifestyle that would reduce such a risk in the first place. Good health and good communities require investing in them; I am proud of Davidson for earning this fantastic opportunity.

– John Kennedy, Davidson