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Cornelius News

Commissioner Puckett: Declaring independence from tolls


May 20,1775 is when Mecklenburg County founders declared their independence from King George, more than a year before the rest of the Colonies. In that same spirit of feistiness, we asked Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett, two of whose ancestors signed the document, to put his thoughts about I-77 in writing on the eve of  this important anniversary.

This is also the 100th anniversary of the visit of President Woodrow Wilson for the 1916 Meck Dec Celebration.

There will be an exhibit of the original papers that establish the existence and wording of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence Friday at the Bank of America Heritage Center in Founders Hall in the Bank of America Building at the corner of Trade and Tryon Streets. These papers have never before been exhibited outside of the Southern Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Here is what Commissioner Puckett has to say about the current state of affairs:

Puckett_HSI found it horribly ironic that on May 20, 2015 NCDOT moved up the financial close with Cintra, essentially wedding us to a 50-year debacle. 

Ironic because it was 240 years to the DAY that two of my forefathers along with 26 others signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence pledging to give all they had up to and including their lives to separate themselves from an overbearing, non-responsive, tyrannical government.

The fact that EVERY elected official wasn’t up in arms over the actions of the DOT left me nearly speechless. That said, our delegation in Raleigh has worked hard to make up lost ground and is dong yeoman’s work on trying to cancel this contract and save some hides. One member derisively called the I-77 toll opponents “wingnuts” and likely now realizes the error of his ways.

NC Reps. Tricia Cotham and Charlie Jeter have structured bipartisan bills to cancel this contract and the similarity between the two should allow them to find adequate support to cancel the contract and subsequently deal with any cost. I would remind the Governor and the legislators that Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he would vigorously support NC in court if the contract is canceled and I and others will be trying to determine what Mr. Cooper’s actions would be should he become governor and the contract is still in place. 

I am hopeful that Messrs. Jeter, Bradford and Tarte will be able to convey to their colleagues the compelling argument so many of us have made in Raleigh and that Gov. McCrory will see the time is right to cancel this contract and protect the future economic development potential in north Mecklenburg and south Iredell while there is still time. 

Let’s get this done and celebrate one of the great grassroots movements in memory and one that would offer us just a taste of what the results of those brave souls who rejected the British Crown must have known with victory.