Steve Schewel: Durham really needs him

I don’t typically use this forum to plug individual candidates, but I’m making an exception in this case because it’s so important: Steve Schewel is running for Durham City Council. We need him. And we need him badly.

Durham has made remarkable strides in recent years. Take a quick look downtown for evidence of that progress. The American Tobacco complex alone is phenomenal. In general, downtown Durham is the go-to spot in the Triangle these days. Only a few years ago it was moribund. How rapidly things can change with a little wisdom, vision and guts among those in a position to make the big decisions.

But there’s more to Durham than downtown revitalization. Issues such as our ability to balance rapid growth with fundamental quality-of-life issues are absolutely critical. Steve is convinced this is one of the top priorities facing our city today — and he is right.

Steve, who among other achievements founded and operates the Independent Weekly and has served on the Durham School Board, believes it is essential to make our city functional, economically vital and enjoyable for all residents. He is correct to believe that we must consider the needs of a broader range of residents, not simply those who have the means to catch a Bulls game, by whim, any given night, then hit Tyler’s Tap Room afterward for a few apps and a beer.

I believe significant issues such as the merging of city and county services also must continue to receive close scrutiny. Addressing the duplication of some of these services could reflect big savings for our community. Why has so little happened in this area recently?

Of course, crime remains an issue, although it’s not the problem it once was. And it certainly is not the problem our neighbors in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and elsewhere would have people believe. Violent crime in Durham is actually down. Property crime is up. But it’s property crime that touches the lives of most people. We must continue to improve in this area. Steve knows this and wants to help bring about change.

City dwellers still pay relatively high taxes. Are we getting our money’s worth? Can’t we have more serious, intelligent debate about these needs? There must be alternatives. It’s complex stuff — balanced delicately with the need for growth and management of development — but it’s the kind of issue we must face as a community head on. That is the kind of leader Steve Schewel is. And in my book, it doesn’t get more basic than that.

Finally, during the past decade, watching City Council meetings has at times resembled old Laurel and Hardy sketches. But I can say the following with utter confidence: Steve Schewel is no Laurel. He’s no Hardy. He’s a smart, committed citizen who, if elected, will work his rear end off to make Durham a better place to live. If you know Steve, this is something you already understand . If you don’t know him, you should. Steve is the kind of person who wants to leave a better place behind when he’s gone. That’s the nut, isn’t it? What more could one ask for?

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