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Padgett will not seek re-election in Concord

July 5. The long-time mayor of Concord, Scott Padgett, announced that he will not seek re-election today.  Padgett was elected mayor in 2001 after serving on the City Council since 1995. A longtime resident of Concord, he is a retired elementary school principal. Prior to becoming an elected official, the popular pro-business mayor served as a member of Concord’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce. Padgett released this statement:

“Serving the citizens of Concord during a time of historic progress is the honor of a lifetime. If over 40 years ago someone would have asked Scott Padgett, the newly arrived teacher and salesman (of World Book encyclopedias and shoes), if Concord would be what it is today, he would have laughed. If someone asked the kid in Forest City who would rather go on joyrides than to class if he would ever be a college graduate and later a school principal, let alone Mayor of one of North Carolina’s fastest growing and largest cities, he would have waited for the punchline.  

And still, here I am, blessed to have served this incredible community in many ways over the last four decades, culminating in four terms as Mayor. Presiding over Council meetings and being in intense economic development negotiations has not come easily or without discomfort. But I worked at it, keeping in mind that my goal is to serve for the betterment of the community, and in time I found my own rhythm. Stretching out of my comfort zone in this way turned out to be some of the most rewarding experiences. The times are a changin’, and it has been both a pleasure and honor to be a part of it, meet so many people along the way, and hopefully help people have a better life in the process.

My wife, Teresa, is the single most important person in my life. Many have told me I would never have won any elections without her, and I agree. She has served as Concord’s First Lady with grace and enthusiasm in her own down-to-earth way. She finds ways to make a difference in the community beyond her work as an educator. Teresa is well known for a friendly wave while running through town, as well as co-hosting the Concord Christmas Parade broadcast on Channel 22. I am happy that so many people have gotten to know the compassionate, intelligent woman who truly is my better half. There is no way I would be able to serve the community without her supportive nature, excellent advice, and unwavering patience. She is my rock!

My son, Joel, made me proud when on his own accord he decided to take a courageous leap and start a new business called 26 Acres Brewing Company, which simultaneously honors Concord’s earliest history and captures the excitement of today. He is an example of the kind of young people that give me hope for Concord’s future. He and his wife Tracy, and my grandchildren Jonas, Jace, and Jake, have kept me rejuvenated and I thank them for their love and support over the years. 

People who have reached my age know that time has a way of picking up speed, and I can’t believe how these years have gone by. My public service with Concord began in the early 1990s with five years on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Those years of appointed service helped me to see both sides of growth—from the property owner who wanted to develop his land to those affected by development. It also helped me to understand how neighbors could have very different perspectives about the effect of the same set of facts.

During my two terms on Concord City Council that started in 1995, I learned the importance of a professional staff and that all departments of City government have an essential role in working together to provide needed services to our citizens. I also came to appreciate the Council-Manager form of government and the value an excellent City Manager could provide. I had the opportunity to participate in the hiring of current City Manager Brian Hiatt in 1998, and I will always consider that the most important and successful decision made while I served on City Council.

During my terms on Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council, I didn’t give much thought to running for Mayor because we had such good leadership in place. However, midway-through my second term in 2001, a combination of fate and circumstance lead me to consider and ultimately decide to run for Mayor of Concord. The next sixteen years leading to today feel as if they seamlessly built from one term to the next, with the community and those serving it growing, learning from mistakes, and growing into roles that didn’t seem possible just a few years (or decades) before.

My service and that of my colleagues on City Council greatly benefit from the foundation set by so many outstanding Concord leaders that came before us. Many of them have passed on: Mayors George Liles, Alfred Brown, Bernie Edwards, and Harold McEachern; Council Members Jim Dorton, Hector Henry, Frank Dusch, Robert Mathis, C.T. Sherrill, Allen Small, Joe Warlick, and Larry Barringer. These were truly amazing people—to me they were giants who were ready to make the hard decisions necessary to keep Concord moving forward. Decisions like advocating for at-large, nonpartisan City elections; incorporating the Electric and Water Departments within the City organization; and locating and opening Concord Regional Airport. None were decisions that made them popular, but each decision was critical to the success and quality of life we enjoy today.

Every community experiences its share of highs and lows. Some of Concord’s lows have included two major droughts, severe ice storms, the loss of major employers, and heartbreaking tragedies. However, how we responded to these very challenges are what I am most proud of, including the Interbasin Transfer and construction of the Concord/Kannapolis-Albemarle water transmission line, leadership in conservation and natural resource protection, diversification of our local economy and employment opportunities, making special efforts to honor the service and sacrifice of veterans, and supporting many families and friends who have lost loved ones.

The importance 16-year process leading to the opening of the Albemarle water line cannot be overstated. This was an effort involving public and private sector cooperation from three communities, countless hours, opposition from entire communities and even another state, and sleepless nights. I firmly believe that the eyes of history will see our work in securing an adequate water supply while being conservation minded as critical to this community’s success. This is just one example where we have been blessed to learn from our mistakes and use our challenges as opportunities to improve.

Over the last two decades, the City Council has focused on necessary investments. Whether complementing or loaning funding for state-maintained roads, developing an extensive greenway network, constructing civic, public safety, and operational facilities, or deploying technology to help coworkers deliver better services, Concord’s elected officials have consistently raised their hands in support of achieving common goals and giving our citizens a higher level of service and better quality of life than anywhere else in the region. Some decisions, such as the recent enhancements at Concord Regional Airport that now provide affordable commercial air service to the community in addition to the established general aviation core business, built on earlier Council decisions. Other decisions, like matching millions in grant funding for traffic management technology that makes traveling more efficient and safe, could not have been dreamed of when I was first elected Mayor.

Our current City Manager, Brian Hiatt, has served for nearly 19 years and is Concord’s longest-serving City Manager, as well as one of the most tenured active managers in North Carolina. He deserves a huge amount of credit for everything accomplished by the City over the last two decades. He is the consummate professional with the highest ethics, and has facilitated good decision-making for the elected officials. He has embraced being a dynamic leader who is not afraid to improve an organization as necessary to serve a changing community, all while keeping quality service and efficiency as the top priorities. At the same time, his conservative financial approach allowed us to remain good stewards of public funds and maintain needed services, infrastructure, and equipment despite the challenges of growth, recession, and multiple impacts on revenue from the General Assembly.

Brian has built an organization of over 1,000 coworkers who embody a culture of service excellence He has developed and selected excellent talent to serve in staff leadership positions, and coworkers at all levels of the organization understand their important roles in successfully carrying out the mission and goals of the City. I cannot say enough about the men and women who wake up every day to go to work for the City of Concord. Some are very visible and come to the rescue of people in need, others do their jobs behind the scenes so well that most citizens do not know they exist. Many work in highly technical fields and stressful situations, and countless more are proud to do jobs that others wouldn’t want to. No matter where they work or what they do, Team Concord has consistently delivered needed services that make this community a wonderful place to live, work, and visit.

Thankfully, we have many outstanding former elected officials still active in the community and making great contributions, including David Phillips, Jim Ramseur, Bill Cone, Jim Fisher, John Howard, and Laine Harling. The current City Council Members—Sam Leder, Brian King, Ella Mae Small, Al Brown, Jr., Lamar Barrier, Jennifer Parsley, and John Sweat—make me proudest when they embrace two traditions passed on by our predecessors: 1) serving with the greater good of the community in mind, and 2) having the boldness and courage necessary to make the right decisions at the right time. I consider promoting and keeping these traditions at the forefront among the City Council as the most important role I have played as Mayor and ensuring their continuance has been a primary motivator in my service.

I have every confidence that future leaders of Concord exist who have the necessary vision and courage to build on our strengths. With this in mind, I am announcing today that my current term as Mayor of Concord will be my last. I thank my family, colleagues, and the community for their endurance, friendship, and support over my 27 years of service. I look forward to waking up on December 15, 2017 with the titles I hold dearest in my heart: husband, father, grandfather, and citizen.”

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