FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
I-77 BUSINESS PLAN ANNOUNCES CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS
--Gubernatorial Candidate Roy Cooper Tops Bipartisan Slate--
CORNELIUS, NC (October 4, 2016)—The endorsement committee of the I-77 Business Plan is pleased to announce its candidate endorsements for the upcoming November 2016 election.
The I-77 toll lanes have undoubtedly been one of the most controversial issues the Lake Norman area has ever seen. Voters in North Mecklenburg and South Iredell Counties have made clear their opposition to the project, with various polls consistently showing public support for project cancellation at above 90%.
The I-77 Business Plan is a group of area business leaders that has spearheaded efforts to convince the General Assembly and Governor McCrory to cancel the state’s contract with Cintra, the controversial Spanish corporation selected to construct and operate the project. After exhaustive study and more than a year of intense interaction with citizens of all backgrounds and political philosophies, we are certain that no other issue is of greater importance to the economic and social health of our community.
Recognizing the devastating consequences this ill-conceived contract will have on our community for the next 50 years, our organization considered every candidate’s position on this issue alone to have greater impact than all other issues before us at this time. Our recommendation is reflective ONLY of the candidate’s standing as it relates to the I-77 toll lanes issue. It is with that single-minded focus our committee considered the following when determining our endorsements:
All local candidates must have completed our campaign survey, which asked:
1. Do you support cancellation of the I-77 Toll Lanes / Cintra contract?
2. Please describe your past efforts to support cancellation of the I-77 Toll Lanes / Cintra contract.
3. Specifically describe the legislative (if applicable) and persuasive actions you will take, if elected, to cancel the I-77 Toll Lanes / Cintra contract.
4. Would you consider supporting a repeal of Mecklenburg County’s half-cent transit tax?
The answers to these questions—coupled with our member’s personal knowledge of the candidates’ history on the issue—formed the basis for our decision. Our endorsements consist of both Democrats and Republicans, incumbents and challengers. Only those candidates who have proven effective at working across party lines—as well as demonstrating a willingness to stand apart from their own party’s leadership in support of the citizens in this effort—have been considered worthy of our support.
With that criteria in mind, we chose to endorse candidates in the following races: NC Governor, NC Lieutenant Governor, NC Attorney General, NC Treasurer, State House Districts 92, 98, 103 and 105, State Senate Districts 41 and 44 and the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.
Topping this list of endorsements is gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General, Roy Cooper. Current Governor, Pat McCrory did not respond to our survey request.
Stated Cooper spokesperson Jamal Little, “If elected governor, Attorney General Cooper is committed to investigating the details of this project to determine the true cost of cancellation. From the beginning, too many details involving this contract and its negotiation have been shrouded in secrecy—and that lack of transparency is troubling. It's clear that the McCrory Administration waited until construction began to publicly estimate an $800 million penalty when the Governor could have canceled the contract at any point beforehand.
The I‐77 tolling plan is not just a bad deal for the state, but a burden on the families who use I‐77. As Governor, Attorney General Cooper is firmly committed to partnering with families, local leaders and organizations like yours when making decisions that affect hard working North Carolinians.”
A full listing of our endorsements can be found below and on our website at http://www.i77businessplan.com.
2016 I-77 Business Plan Candidate Endorsements
Governor: Roy Cooper (D)
Lt. Governor: Dan Forest (R)
Attorney General: Buck Newton (R)
Treasurer: Dale Folwell (R)
District 92: Chaz Beasley (D) and Danae Caulfield (R)
District 98: John Bradford (R)
District 103: Rochelle Rivas (D)
District 105: Constance Green-Johnson (D)
District 41: Jeff Tarte (R)
District 44: David Curtis (R)
Mecklenburg County Commission
District 1: Jim Puckett (R)
At Large: Pat Cotham (D) and Ella Scarborough (D)
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SPECIAL BUSINESS BRIEFING:
THE BUSINESS OF TOLLS--MYTHS, MISINFORMATION AND MAYHEM
CORNELIUS, NC (August 3, 2015)--The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will hold two separate special business briefings on Tuesday, August 11th and Tuesday, August 18th from 6:30 to 8 PM, at The Galway Hooker Irish Pub located at 17044 Kenton Dr. in Cornelius. While the Chamber of Commerce would like to encourage local business owners and managers to attend, the special business briefings are open to the public. Chamber leaders will be joined by Mecklenburg County Board Commissioner Jim Puckett as they cite the business and economic implications of the proposed Toll Lane plan on the Lake Norman economy.
The Chamber initially took a firm stance that the widening of I-77 from exit 36 to just below exit 23 was critical to the overall economic health of the region. Bill Russell, President of the chamber and an ex-officio board member of the Lake Norman Regional Transportation Commission, points out that local elected and business leaders were presented with the option of widening I-77 through tolling or waiting 20 years or more for the project to be funded with general purpose lanes. “We did not think putting off relief for 20 years was an option,” he said. “However, it would now seem the proposed HOT Lanes will not relieve congestion – it actually guarantees it.”
Past Chamber Chair John Hettwer agrees, “Like many business owners in the last few years, I was battling through the recession, building my business, and confident our elected leadership was looking out for all of us. Unfortunately, they were being given misleading information by the NCDOT, and we now find ourselves in a fight for the economic and business vitality of our region.”
Jim Puckett, Mecklenburg County Commissioner for District #1 has been a longtime opponent of the toll project. “I- 77 is the lifeline of North Mecklenburg and South Iredell counties and the current design and tolling plans will have a devastating impact on the future of our region and economic development going forward. With the current ill-conceived plan contracted to last 50 years, NOW is the time for the business community to push for a better solution. “
Chamber leaders hope to use the meetings to further educate businesses and citizens on the impact of tolling at the lake and plans to move forward. Russell said he hopes citizens and business owners will attend one of the two meetings and encourage their friends and neighbors to attend. “I know a great many elected leaders, including our governor, say it’s far too late to stop this project now. Perhaps so, but on the other hand it’s simply never too late to do the right thing.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAKE NORMAN BUSINESS LEADERS DEEM RALEIGH VISIT A SUCCESS
--Visit a Positive Next Step in Process; Sen. Tarte to Submit Defunding Bill--
CORNELIUS, NC (July 1, 2015)—A group of Lake Norman-area business leaders, representing the I-77 Business Plan group (http://www.i77businessplan.com, @i77businessplan), visited the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh on Tuesday, to express their region’s growing outrage over the I-77 toll lanes project. The group represented a collection of over 1000 Lake Norman-area businesses, including members of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the toll lanes project.
In the morning, the group met with legislators from both parties and found that many lawmakers share the region’s concerns regarding the I-77 toll lanes. Among these are such matters as: the lack of congestion relief provided by the toll lanes, the 50-year non-compete clause included in the toll lanes agreement and the effects that uncapped toll pricing will have on hard-working families. Estimates of toll rates have shown round trip pricing between Charlotte and Mooresville to be as high as $20 initially, rising to $40 by 2035.
The afternoon saw the group participate in a press conference at the Legislative Building. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett, group founder John McAlpine, motorsports executive Greg Wallace and State Senator Jeff Tarte all spoke regarding their region’s exploding opposition to the project. Representatives John Bradford of Cornelius and Charles Jeter of Huntersville were also on hand, along with a number of other legislators who wished to show their support for the group.
In his remarks, Tarte formally announced that he will file legislation asking the General Assembly to defund the unpopular toll lanes project. At the request of the I-77 Business Plan group, Tarte will allow the group several weeks to continue cultivating the positive responses they received today, before bringing the bill to a Senate committee vote.
The group collectively noted, “Overall, this was a great day for us. This process is all about education and awareness. The more people we reach, the more people are awakened to what a terrible deal the I-77 toll lanes project is for the Lake Norman region. Education is the key to stopping the toll lanes and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.
“Certain people initially expressed doubts about the ability of a defunding bill to pass the Senate, but the positive responses we received today—from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle—really exceeded our expectations. In fact, we were so pleased with the response, that we asked Senator Tarte to give us some additional time to continue building on the relationships we developed today. We’d like to thank him, along with Representatives Bradford and Jeter, for their support of our group.”
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LAKE NORMAN BUSINESSES TAKE THE
I-77 TOLL LANES DEBATE TO RALEIGH
--Area Business Leaders to Visit State Capitol on June 30th--
CORNELIUS, NC (June 29, 2015)—A delegation of Lake Norman-area business leaders will visit the North Carolina State Capitol on Tuesday, June 30th, to express the region’s strong opposition to the I-77 toll lanes project. They will arrive armed with petitions from hundreds of Lake Norman-area businesses, as well as resolutions from the Mecklenburg County Commission and the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.
The Lake Norman delegation will meet with a number of state legislative leaders during Tuesday’s trip and will hold a press conference on the first floor of the Legislative Building at noon on Tuesday.
The group consists of individuals representing a diverse array of industries, from banking to motorsports and many in between. Among the dozens expected to attend are John McAlpine, organizer of the I-77 Business Summit, Aquesta Bank CEO Jim Engel, John Hettwer, CEO of Payroll Plus, John Stritch, founder of Carolina Beverage Group, Champion Tire and Wheel General Manager Todd Carpenter, Greg Wallace, VP / Brand Management at Rusty Wallace, Inc. and Sperry Van Ness Managing Director Tom McMahon.
Representatives of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will include President Bill Russell, Board Chairman Mike Russell (MADVAPES, LLC), Vice Chairman Denis Bilodeau (Aquesta Insurance) and Vice Chairman Joe Vagnone (ENLIGN Business Brokers). Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett is slated to attend the event as well.
Opposition to the I-77 toll lanes project has amplified greatly in recent weeks. Both Mecklenburg County’s Board of County Commissioners and the Cornelius Board of Commissioners have passed resolutions requesting that the state terminate its 50-year agreement with the project’s developer. The towns of Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville have also passed resolutions expressing strong concerns about the project.
Last Tuesday, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce came out in opposition to the toll lane project. It passed a resolution asking the state to terminate the I-77 toll lanes agreement, after 94% of its members responding to a recent survey opposed the toll lane project.
Said McAlpine, “In our meetings on Tuesday, we plan to express the enormous negative impact that the I-77 toll lanes project and its 50-year agreement will have on our local and state economies. We hope to discuss the best ways to move forward, which involve a solution that provides our local businesses with the infrastructure they need to thrive long term. The toll lanes simply don’t meet that criteria.
“We want to thank all of the area businesspeople that have signed petitions, attended meetings and otherwise expressed support for this movement. The support of our local business community has been nothing less than overwhelming.”
For more information and to view the businesses that have joined the “I-77 Business Plan” petition to stop the toll lanes, please visit i77businessplan.com.
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