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Cabarrus Magazine

'Up Front' Concludes Two-Part Series on Newly Elected Officials in Episode 37

Dec 02, 2019 11:02AM ● By Jason Huddle

Episode 37: Meet Your Newly Elected Representatives (Pt. 2)

Huddle: (00:00)
Hello everyone. Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine, sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD store of Concord. I'm your host Jason Huddle

Huddle: (00:25)
Hello once again everyone and again happy Turkey day to you as this episode is being released. It is in fact Thanksgiving and I hope you and yours are enjoying a wonderful holiday and loading up on the Turkey and all the fixins. If you are so inclined, and didn't catch it a couple of weeks ago, we actually had an episode called Surviving Thanksgiving, so I encourage you to go back and check that one out this week. We are in part two of our two-part series on meeting your newly elected representatives. Last week we sat down and talked with Ian Patrick and Rodney Dellinger, newly elected town Councilman of the Town of Harrisburg and we talked about how they were able to unseat two incumbents and what their plans were for the future of Harrisburg. Today we shift our focus to Concord and Kannapolis. Each city has one new Councilman that has been elected. Andy Langford has been elected to the City Council of Concord. He is taking over the seat that was formerly held by the late Sam Leder. We certainly do miss Sam. As it turns out, Andy and Sam were great friends and so he is looking forward to continuing on that legacy. Over in Kannapolis, Darrell Jackson has been elected to the city council as well now. He had actually previously held a seat on the city council and then was not on the city council for a while, and then now has come back, but technically he is a new Councilman once again. So we sat and talked with him about why he decided to get back into local politics and what his plans are for the future of Kannapolis, which is looking really bright lately. You know, with everything that's going on in the downtown area for Kannapolis, I am truly excited about what is going on in that city and I am looking forward to seeing all the things that the city council has in store as they plan for all this new development. Frankly, it's something the likes of Kannapolis have never seen before. Uh, it was a mill town for so long. And then the research campus had big plans. Not that the research campus is a failure by any means, it's certainly not to the grand scale that Murdock had planned originally when he first announced that he was going to build the campus. So I'm excited to see that Kannapolis has taken the bull by the horns and they have turned that downtown area into something really special and it's going to keep growing. There's all kinds of things going on. They just announced last night that they have sold block one on West Avenue and so we're very excited for them about that. Obviously since that was just announced, I didn't have the opportunity to talk to Councilman-elect Jackson about that, but I wanted to make mention of it here. So we've got a lot to talk about with these gentlemen. But before we get to that, let's get to some shameless plug time, shall we?

Huddle: (03:08)
Being the end of the month. That means that next week is the beginning of the month and the beginning of the month means a new edition of Cabarrus Magazine. Look for it in stands and online on December 1st. This month's theme, Tour of Homes. We took a look at some of the historic homes and Concord on Union Street, those old money houses that are so beautiful at Christmas time, and we got a sneak peek inside them to get some great photos for you to enjoy. It's a little bit of a different issue and then there's not really feature articles. We really just wanted the pictures to speak for themselves. So make sure that you get a look at that this week. There's always some great information with our recipe, with our upfront section, uh, just telling you about little things going on in the area and of course our calendar of events. If you have a press release or something that you think is newsworthy, please send it to us at P R that's P as in penny, R as in Randall [email protected] and send us your press releases there. We will see what we can do to get them either online or in the print version. And that is today's shameless plug time.

Huddle: (04:16)
Stay tuned. When we come back we will be talking to Andy Langford, the newly elected city Councilman for the City of Concord, in just a moment, stay tuned.

Commercials: (04:26)

Huddle: (06:08)
Welcome back to this episode of Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine where we're talking with our newly elected representatives and I am sitting in the home of Andy Langford. He is the newly elected representative for the Concord city council, filling Dave Philips shoes. Uh, first of all, Mr. Langford, or I should say Councilman-elect Langford, thank you for joining us today.

Langford: (06:31)
Thank you. It's good to be here.

Huddle: (06:33)
So, Mr. Langford, first of all, tell our listeners a little bit about who you are and your background and then why you chose to run for Concord city council.

Langford: (06:42)
I am a native North Carolinian. I was born in Charlotte, raised in Durham. Uh, my father was on faculty at Duke. I went to Davidson College, then Duke University and Emory University. My career path has been as a pastor. I was a United Methodist pastor for 42 years and in that position moved from town to town. 17 years ago I was appointed, that's the United Methodist language, to Central United Methodist church, which is downtown across from the library, and ended up staying there for 15 years. It was a great congregation. And in my time there, I began to explore more of this community in which I was now a part. I've just discovered that I have lived in Concord longer than any other place in my entire life.

Huddle: (07:43)
Oh wow.

Langford: (07:44)
It's 17 years!

Huddle: (07:45)
So I guess we'll, we'll, we'll consider you an honorary resident.

Langford: (07:50)
I'm not old Concord. I'm new Concord. I've been here for a while. So a year ago I retired and, which is a pretty good gig, and was enjoying that, doing retirement stuff. We decided to stay in Concord because, from my standpoint, the quality of life, health care, friendships, we knew how the community operated. We loved our house. And then back in July, my neighbor and friend, Sam Leder, who lived just a block over.

Huddle: (08:23)
Sam was an awesome guy.

Langford: (08:24)
He was a great guy and did a great job and was going to run on unopposed for this position. And, Sam suddenly, tragically died. And I was blessed to be able to do Sam's funeral and wondered to myself, I wonder what they're going to do. Because there was seven days before they ended registration to run for the office and he was running unopposed. And what happened was, very quickly I began to get some phone calls from friends who said, Andy, you should think about this. You're retired. You know the community. You've been involved in many things. And my immediate reaction was, this is not on my bucket list, but began to think about it, to pray about it, uh, to talk to more friends. And at the end of the day, I've decided I could do this. I'd need to acknowledge that Sam's wife, Shannon, was very supportive of this. And Dave Philips, who had been in this position, Sam followed Dave and David was very encouraging of my doing this.

Huddle: (09:39)
Yeah, I should. I should have mentioned at the beginning. I said you were filling Dave Philips shoes. But honestly, you're filling Sam Leder's shoes. Dave was appointed to Sam's seat to finish out Sam's term, but uh, it's really Sam's seat.

Langford: (09:53)
Absolutely. So I said, yeah, I could do this. I would enjoy doing this. I am a student of Concord. I am a historian by training. So I've been doing lots over the years here reading the histories of Concord because of the congregation. I knew lots of leadership, I knew all the members of the County commissioners on a first name basis, the town council, the chamber of commerce, business leaders. I have participated in 30 nonprofits of this community. So I've, I have kind of a wide basis of knowledge of this community. And I said I could use those contacts for that understanding to improve the community of which I've now claimed as my own home.

Huddle: (10:42)
So, given that you knew the people in the community, you knew what this community was about, why do you think you were elected above anyone else?

I'd try to position myself in a couple of different ways. One is, I am registered, and have been, unaffiliated. It's a nonpartisan election. It was to my advantage that I could say I am neither Democrat nor Republican. My only constituency is to serve the citizens of Concord. I have to acknowledge that some of my opposition tried to make this a referendum on national political issues. I don't think that sold. It didn't work. The second thing I came in saying is, I, in fact, like and trust the leadership of this community. I am not coming in with a preconceived agenda that I think I need to get done. I don't have one or two pet projects that are at the top of my list. I've said to people, I am here to continue to listen to work with those who've been here before and know what's going on, to study hard, to work diligently, and then be willing to make hard decisions. So, I think one of the reasons is I've tried to be, how can a politician be non-political? Thus, non-political - What my goal was, was to be a servant of the people. I think that sold it.

Huddle: (12:11)
Having said you don't have an agenda, you don't have a pet project, but I'm gonna ask you a two part question. What is something that Concord is doing very well right now and what is something that you feel we need to improve on, that the city council can assist us with?

Langford: (12:29)
I'm not going to answer your question. I've already had to do this thing. Um, the major issue facing this community is growth. That's the thing they've got to rustle with and it is a blessing to have all these new people coming in, but it affects our schools, our transportation, the parks, everything else. How we deal with that? I think some of the ways we've done that have been fruitful. Other ways, we need to step up the game. Um, for example, one of the things I heard throughout is, are we truly planning with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which was the lead of this, planning transportation before people move in, rather than after people move here. And the quick answer is not particularly well.

Huddle: (13:20)
No. And I think honestly, if we're just talking between the two of us, Concord has always been reactive in that sense.

Langford: (13:27)
Sure. Parks and Greenways. People love parks and they love Greenways. We have a master plan. It is stretched out over time. As I understand it, in the next three to four years, they're going to build an additional 20 miles of Greenway. We need 200. So where do we get more aggressive about improving the quality of life in this community. Economically, we're well positioned. Health wise, we're well positioned. Our schools are loved. We are in a safe place. I think the city generally is trusted and appreciated, but so how do we go deeper to improve the quality of life of everybody? The other issue, I raised this is in my campaign, we have issues such as traffic and parks and that kind of thing. I'm very cognizant that we really also have some real divisions in our community. Concord has not always done things well. We - old Concord and new Concord, Anglos, African Americans, Hispanics, sometimes live in their own worlds and they do not interact.

Huddle: (14:41)
Well, what's interesting is those worlds are less than blocks away, right?

Langford: (14:44)
Oh, you go two blocks behind Union Street and it's a completely different world. And we don't interact with each other as well as we should. I don't think it's willful, but I think we need to be much more intentional, so things like affordable housing and homelessness are issues that we see all around us. And I think the city council needs to be more attentive to those things. I think they're trying to be, but how do we go deeper in some sense, seek to solve those things?

Huddle: (15:16)
Andy, real quick, before I let you go, just tell us if we're sitting here at the end of your first term, real quick, what's something you hope to have accomplished?

Langford: (15:26)
I hope that at the end of this first term you will say we on the city council, it's not Andy, but we on the city council, with the staff made a couple of key strategic decisions that will change the shape of this city for the next 20 to 30 years.

Huddle: (15:45)
Very good. Councilman-elect, Andy Langford, thanks for joining us today on Up Front.

Langford: (15:50)
Thank you Jason. Very much for this opportunity.

Huddle: (15:52)
Alright, you guys stay tuned. We'll be back in just a moment.

Commercials: (15:56)

Huddle: (17:40)
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrus Magazine. We are in the second week of our meeting our newly elected representatives and my next guest is one who is newly elected this time, but not a newbie, per se, as far as elected office. I'm sitting here with Darrell Jackson, in a very chilly warehouse in Kannapolis, North Carolina. Darrel was just re, uh, I should say reelected I guess? Uh, to the Kannapolis City Council. He had served previously, was not on the board and then was elected and won his seat back this time. He is taking over the seat that was previously held by Roger Haas, who served the city for many, many years. And uh, we're certainly sad to see him go, but -

Jackson: (18:26)
Big, big shoes to fill.

Huddle: (18:28)
Big, huge shoes to fill for sure.

Jackson: (18:30)
He's uh, he was really good.

Huddle: (18:31)
I wanted to have the opportunity for our listeners to get to know you a little bit, Darrell, and talk about where you came from, what your background is and why you decided to come back on to the council. So first of all, thanks for being on the program.

Jackson: (18:43)
Thank you. Thank you Jason. Very much. Well, first of all, I actually was born in Concord and lived in Concord up til I was in my thirties. And then we had a company that actually in 19 November 6th, 1986, caught on fire and burned down. It was a small jean factory, called Danielle, and we had about 50 people who were employed. And when it burned down on the, at November, 1986, um, I was left with just a small, um, outlet store, uh, at Cloverleaf. So I came and to Kannapolis, I was kind of looking around. Murdock had started the outlet center. They had about 70 stores that were, uh, running downtown. Kannapolis and I actually talked to Lynn Safrit, at the time,of leasing me on a weekly basis, one of the buildings to do a warehouse sale for the Lee company. And it was so successful that it turned into about 32 years of retail and -

Huddle: (19:44)
That's a lot of weeks!

Jackson: (19:45)
A lot of weeks. And so over the years, you know, I, I was here 2003 when Cannon Mills, Fieldcrest Cannon, uh, declared bankruptcy and I was here when the campus peaked out and it kind of leveled out and it didn't really become the big dream that they had anticipated. So, I saw a lot of adversity and a lot of problems for the citizens of Kannapolis, who, uh, struggle. I mean, cause they had relied on Cannon Mills and relied on Murdock, and for direction, and all of a sudden that was gone. So, we were sitting here and the stores were just dissipating just, just one right after another and we're closing up. So, uh, it got down to a few stores and we started an organization called DKI, which was Downtown Kannapolis Incorporated, about four of us started and our whole goal was to bring attention back to downtown to show how important a downtown can be, uh, for municipality, for growth, for education, for everything. I mean it's - if you ride through a downtown and it looks like a ghost town, you automatically think that the town is -

Huddle: (21:00)
The whole town is dead, right?

Jackson: (21:01)
The whole town is dead. So I got involved in that and became the vice president and the year of elect, I was supposed to be the next year, the president, while a couple of guys came to and said, you know, we were making some headway here. We're getting a lot of attention. Let's put you on city council, let's get you to run for city council. And I went, ah, man, I, politics is not my thing. But, um, over the years after I got to know a lot of people in, in Kannapolis, I knew that there was a need they needed to, to move this thing forward, the three mile demographics of downtown where we're certainly going down. And it was just was not headed in a, in a, in a positive direction. So I ran and got elected and we, uh, we decided that, uh, David Murdock was not going to spend any money on the, on the downtown area. So we had, we had to do something and we had to do it quick because there's only a few of us that were left and the buildings were, we're going down pretty quickly.

Huddle: (22:03)
So as a group, the council in 2013, 2014 approached Murdock and, uh, he, he decided to, um, to sell it to us. And of course that sounds rather simple, but there was a very complicated transaction and a lot, a lot of, uh, work on the city staffing and, and the council to, uh, to make that come to fruition. But it happened. And so after we, we got it, you know, and we really bought it at a price point that was about 70% below market value. So we knew we had made a good decision for Kannapolis. So after we got it, we decided what in the world are we gonna do with it. And we got involved with the diversified finance incorporated, which is a division out of chapel Hill who works with municipalities and help them kind of identify themselves and under revitalization programs and kind of guide them the process. And this has started and um, we, um, we penciled in, in kind of penciled in the ballpark. We had visited a few towns and saw kind of the type of synergy that it was producing for some of the downtown. So we kind of penciled it in once we had that thing kind of drawn in the project, in the, in the center of town, developers came from everywhere. And all of a sudden, we knew we, we were on the right direction. And of course you can see how it's evolving today. There's some big announcements that's getting ready to happen. And even though I was not on the council after 17, the fact that my boots are on the ground in downtown Kannapolis, I worked with a lot of people. I worked with the developers. Uh, uh, the, that I was here, they knew that I understood the market. And so I've been a part of it the whole time. Even though, uh, I was not sitting in a seat.

Huddle: (23:54)
Is it just a matter of unfinished business as to why you decided to get back onto the council? You hadn't quite yet completed the task.

Jackson: (24:01)
Exactly. And, um, Roger Haas came to me and said that, uh, he was, he was not gonna run again. And, uh, I had worked with all his boys, you know, side-by-side and they kind of, we understood each other and we all understood the project. So, and there were some, some good candidates that, that were, that seemed to be coming on board, but we knew it takes at least a couple of years before a new candidate can really sink his teeth into really, really what's going on. There's so much department heads, you have to understand their lingo. This, there's a lot you have to learn budget is - God, that's a big hurdle. And I'm, I'm a businessman and studied business in school, but budgets for these municipalities are very complicated. So we knew we didn't really, this was not a great time to start training somebody that we needed to hit the ground running because there are some huge projects, not only downtown, but on several, the, the new interchange that's, that's coming on board, um, on the interstate, that's going to be a huge - Kannapolis crossing. It's going to be a huge project anywhere from $250 to $500 million project. And we needed to have - that's Old Beattie's Forde Road by the way - And we needed to have, uh, guys who, uh, that knew, uh, had background and he kinda had an idea about business and how these things work to make some, some good decisions. Let's keep this motivation, this momentum and keep it going.

Huddle: (25:30)
So your term is four years. You get sworn in next month in December 9th. So let's fast forward to December, 2023 and we're sitting in this same chilly warehouse. What do you hope to have accomplished?

Jackson: (25:43)
Well, we did some things to enhance growth, but growth is actually inevitable for Kannapolis. Just the mere fact that our geographic location where we've got interstates, we've got a beautiful airport. Uh, we got Amtrak, we got everything that you could possibly need to become a urban area outside of Charlotte. I mean, we, we've got it. We've got still got room. We spot annexed almost between highway three and highway 73. Uh, we've, we've got water, sewer, almost always the Davidson and Mooresville. So we got a ton, ton of growth area out there. We've got the growth area Beatties Forde road, you know, it's just a lot growth here. And, uh, we again, what I see, uh, in two years, I think what we have to do, we have to back up and we have to look at this growth. We have to manage this growth. You know, we can never forget the people who made Kannapolis, who have investments in Kannapolis. You know, we have to look at, to make sure that any decision that we make will enhance your property and not kill the value of it. So we, we don't want to over density areas where people already own properties. And I see that. And also, I know we're not involved in education in schools, but I would certainly like to see our, our schools, um, improve our grade scores and our, in our schools or education.

Huddle: (27:15)
Do you think that Kannapolis downtown Kannapolis will be the sprawling urban economic center that has been pitched to the community in four years?

Jackson: (27:27)
Oh, I don't think he's any doubt about it. Um, you know, if you look to where we were at and where we are today, you know, and we, we've just, we just basically touched the tip of the iceberg. I mean, there, there's so much had a meeting this morning, there's so much business that wants to come in here. And I, and I, I think opportunities RCC is just expanding on our location. You know, we were looking at possibly the Olympic training center being based in Kannapolis. I mean, all this is, this is huge. And it all evolved from the fact that we felt a need. And I, and I really believe if MurdocK would understood how important the downtown was, I think he would have probably done this before his grand plan on the campus. I think, cause I've understood a lot of scientists came in and looked at downtown and went, eh, I don't think my family wants to live down here. And, uh, yeah, I, I mean, I think we're ahead of schedule.

Huddle: (28:33)
Wouldn't that be a little bit like, I don't know, making a mistake - cause remember, Murdock is the one who came in and designed downtown Kannapolis like it was designed after colonial Williamsburg. His wife had a lot to do with that. Um, wouldn't that be kind of like saying, Oh well, maybe I got it wrong the first time. Do you think that might've played into it?

Jackson: (28:52)
Well, I think the fact that a lot of his administration, a majority of his administration was based in, in California and he had a unique, uh, kinda, uh, interest and love for Kannapolis. And um, I think, um, that a lot of his people just did not see - They didn't see the potential. And it's almost a situation where with all the infrastructure work that had to be done, it almost would take a municipality to even do this.

Huddle: (29:22)
Before I let you go, can you tell us your constituents if they need to get in touch with you, if they want to weigh in on what's important to them, how can they get in touch?

Jackson: (29:30)
This is how I work and I, I've everybody that I've, a lot of people who voted for me know me because they shop in my store and they walk in and, and even when I was at the polls, I said, if you vote for me and you want to talk to me, you know where I'm at. And I'm one of the few guys, after the council meeting the next day, you can walk in the store and we'll have a discussion on the way it is and that's, that's just a part of my way of giving back to Kannapolis cause they've been very uh, loyal to me over the years and I felt like this is, this is something I owe Kannapolis and uh, uh, I'm very approachable and I'll talk to you about anything. If I don't know the answer, I'll find somebody that, that, that should know it anyway,

Huddle: (30:11)
So just come on down to Lee's Clothing Warehouse and Have a conversation.

Jackson: (30:14)
Maybe I'll sell you something in the meantime.

Huddle: (30:16)
I might have to buy something in the process to get something done. No, city council-elect, Darrel Jackson. I appreciate you being on the program with us today and we'll look forward to seeing what you guys get accomplished in the next four years.

Jackson: (30:30)
Perfect. Thanks so much Jason.

Huddle: (30:31)
Alright, you guys stick around. We will be back in just a moment.

Commercials: (30:34)

Huddle: (32:27)
Welcome back. Once again, I want to thank all of our guests over the past couple of weeks, Ian Patrick and Rodney Dellinger from the Town of Harrisburg, Andy Langford from the City of Concord and Darrel Jackson, of course from the City of Kannapolis. We certainly enjoyed having all those gentlemen on our program to talk about their plans for the future of their municipalities and we hope that you have taken this opportunity to really start to get involved, if you haven't already, in local politics. You're going to hear a lot over the next year as we are getting into this presidential election season. How electing a president for one party or another is going to affect your life drastically. Let me tell you, yes, the president affects us in certain ways, but most of it is very indirect. The politics that affect us most are local. That means that before you worry about who's going to be the next president, you need to worry about who's going to be sitting on the next city council or the County commission. Those are the ones that matter. When those people vote to increase your taxes or give you a tax break, it directly affects you. It's not a roundabout thing and it's certainly not something that will sit in committee for six months, eight months, two years, and then finally either get brought to the floor or not at all. Local politics is swift and if you're not paying attention it can affect you adversely, especially if you just voted for somebody because they have a D or an R by their name. So I encourage you, use this next year to really take a look at local politics and what our local elected officials are doing. If it's not something you like, get involved, make sure that they're hearing your voice. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the national elections, we completely forget the elections that really affect us and that's why we wanted to do this two-part series, so you can have an opportunity to meet your new local elected representatives and get a feel for who they are and what they stand for and what their plans are. If their plans don't meet with your plans, make sure they know that. That is about all the time we have for today. Make sure you tune in next week when we are talking about Cabarrus at Christmas time. My favorite season of the year, and we are looking forward to talking about all the great things that you can do in the month of December, leading up to Christmas and New Year's and the holidays and all that good stuff. So make sure you tune in for that. In the meantime, of course, we'd like to thank our sponsors, Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, CERTEC Automotive, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, Merle Norman Cosmetics and Edie's Salon and Your CBD store of Concord. I've been your host, Jason Huddle. Once again, Happy Thanksgiving. Everybody. Gobble, gobble!

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