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Quality schools, living-wage jobs and support for those battling addiction are just a few of the issues Wilson Mayor Carlton Stevens told Rotarians on Monday he hopes to address during his term.
“My goal is to address issues and concerns that transcend political affiliation,” the nonpartisan elected leader said.
It’s a fitting message for a political newcomer who campaigned on united all residents as “One Wilson.”
“We can’t expect the city or the county to do it all, but with the city and the county working together, Wilson will be a better place,” he said. “If we’re one, imagine all we can do together.”
Officials from the city and the county currently meet once a year, but Stevens said he hopes the elected officials can get together to discuss joint issues at least twice a year. And as a former educator, improving the school system was high atop his list of campaign promises. He still is working with advisers about specific ways to improve schools, but noted that recruiting qualified teachers and strengthening funding are essential.
“Let’s say, ‘This is the problem, how can we address it together?’” Stevens said.
The issue of recruiting a drug treatment facility to Wilson County struck a personal chord with Stevens, who lost a younger brother to an opioid overdose in June.
“The drug problem is taking lives. It is causing our unemployment to go up because people cannot keep a job,” he said. “It is causing our crime rate to go up and jails are full because of instances stemming from the drug problem.”
He also offered praise for existing efforts such as the Recovery Concepts Community Center, known as RC3, and the Wilson Police Department’s Police Athletic League but added that more can be done when Wilson works together.
Other issues Stevens discussed with the Wilson Rotary Club during its meeting at Something Different Cafe & Catering included revitalization along the U.S. 301 corridor to maximize improvements to the road, easing the process for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the city and supporting existing workforce development efforts.