Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
When campaigning for mayor, Carlton Stevens pushed for name recognition. More than that, though, the 45-year-old businessman worked to convey his vision for “One Wilson.”
“When I talked to people, I wanted them to understand my heart, my vision and my desires for growth of the city, and the method I want it to grow transcends political affiliation, socioeconomic status or race,” Stevens said Wednesday. “I needed them to see my heart and what I thought our city could do. That was my campaign strategy.”
And his strategy worked as he captured more than half of the 7,379 votes cast to unseat Wilson’s longest serving mayor, Bruce Rose. While he won’t be sworn in until December, he is hard at work to develop strategies to implement that vision.
“I personally believe the vast majority of Wilsonians want ‘One Wilson,’” he said. “They want to be able to work together for the betterment of our entire city.”
As a former educator in Wayne County, improving area schools was a core part of his platform. City officials said funding Wilson County Schools has not been a topic of discussion for the city of Wilson. Stevens said he’s working with educational advisers to determine the best way to lend support.
“What would be great is if the city and the county could work cohesively to improve all of the schools,” he said. “Right now, one entity is working to help the schools and doing a great job, but with the support of other entities and the whole county working together, more can be accomplished.”
With six children of his own, he sees the importance of providing a solid foundation and the effect a quality education system can have on a community.
“It increases the positives, but decreases the negatives,” he said. “Education is key for everyone.”
Like education, Stevens said developing innovative approaches to other community issues is essential to building a better tomorrow for Wilson. For example, while the city cannot recruit businesses for private properties, improving the infrastructure, addressing other issues and building relationships with potential investors can pay dividends.
“To leverage the investment through the 301 TIGER grant, it is vitally important for our residents to participate in the census because accurate population counts will open us up to more federal resources,” Stevens said. “Those federal resources can improve the quality of life of our residents and better our community on the whole. That will attract more businesses to our city, which will holistically improve our economic development.”
To ensure he addresses concerns Wilson residents have, Stevens said he plans to organize a meeting in each of the city’s seven districts with the corresponding council member. He said he hopes to have the meetings within his first 90 days in office and determine the widespread concerns and develop plans to address the issues. After the initial meetings, regularly held district meetings are one aspect of his plan to improve transparency as well as increasing the broadcast of public meetings and availability of meeting minutes.
While Rose served full-time as mayor, Stevens will continue his responsibilities at his family’s funeral home, finish his pursuit of a doctorate degree and more.
“The most important aspect of this will be scheduling,” he said. “As I adjust to the new responsibilities over the next few months, it will allow me to more effectively balance my commitment to my community and family.”
With the election in his rearview mirror, Stevens hopes his actions will garner the support of all Wilsonians going forward.
“I ran my campaign on ‘One Wilson’ because I believe we can do better together than separately,” he said. “I will be a voice and a representative for everyone in this city.”