On the Paris Agreement


I’ve been told there is a petition started by someone (not from Apex, NC) asking me to sign on to the Climate Mayors initiative to show President Trump that people oppose his decision to withdraw the United States of America from the UN’s Paris Agreement to have its members voluntarily make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

To date I have not seen this petition, but it makes no difference. I will not participate in the Climate Mayors initiative. If you’re open-minded, please continue reading.

[Update 6/18/17: I’ve just read the petition. The Apex petition on change.org was, in fact, started by an Apex resident. I don’t know the author, but we do share a couple of Facebook friends. The wording was copied from a model petition and adapted to reference Apex and me. Wilmington’s petition, for example, is nearly identical and three days older. This is a minor detail, but I wanted to establish the facts, since I started with what I was told, the specifics of which were simply lost in translation. Be that as it may…]

Personal Policy
It is my personal policy to let a governing body govern themselves when it does not hinder our ability to govern ourselves. Let me elaborate with an example.

Suppose the North Carolina General Assembly decides that all new drivers (less than 3 years of experience) must wear their driver’s license on a lanyard while operating a motor vehicle. Any bill they may propose or law they may pass does not hinder our ability to do what’s right for Apex, and therefore, I would choose to ignore it.

Yes, it will affect people in my town, and many may find it intrusive and obtuse, but a law governing driving in the state is the purview of the state. If I want to call my representative as a citizen and oppose it personally, I may choose to do so.

But in my role as mayor, this law does not hinder my ability to guide town council to solving local issues. I will not make a proclamation or draft a resolution because the state has not hindered my ability to manage municipal issues.

Taking Care of the Home Front
We have a duty of care for the people and the problems right in front of us. We have increased traffic motoring along our old narrow roads and speeding through our residential streets.

We have gaps in our sidewalks that make walking to school or downtown difficult or dangerous. We have parents trying to sign children up to recreation activities, ending up on waiting lists.

We have citizens who want to frequent our downtown businesses that wonder where they are going to park as the town continues to grow. Today, like every day this year, we issued two C.O.’s and seven people became Apexians, paying taxes and demanding services.

These are tangible problems, calling for immediate solutions, staring us down like velociraptors. We are strong enough to handle it because we know our primary responsibility is to take care of our home front.

Stewardship Doesn’t Require Signatures
Anyone who has followed my public service for Apex since I first joined the Planning Board in 2003 can testify that I believe smart planning and solid execution result in a sustainable town that can stand the test of time.

I want to live in a neighborhood with a healthy diversity of trees. I want our commercial services to be located in pockets around the town, nearest the intersections of our existing (and future) thoroughfares in order to provide convenience and reduce the distance required for travel, which also reduces the total number of car-miles driven per day.

Within the past year your town council defined our first Tree Board to advise on common-sense tree-related development regulations. And we planted a tree for Arbor Day and become a Tree City USA certified town. We even just passed a tiered water usage rate to encourage conservation.

My first involvement in local government was to stand in front of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Advisory Commission and tell them why disc golf was a such great activity into which the town should invest because they wouldn’t have to cut down any mature trees.

Heck, I’ve been known to pull plastic bottles out of trash cans and carry them until I find a recycle bin. I turn out lights when I’m not using them, I keep my shower under seven minutes and I turn off the faucet when I brush my teeth. I often walk, rather than drive, to downtown.

It would be incorrect to presume that my non-participation in any national initiative implies that I’m not committed to promoting environmental responsibility in Apex. I don’t have to sign an agreement in order to be committed to being a good steward of the resources that we’ve been given.

So, petition or no, I care about a sustainable Apex. No one can rightly say otherwise. If every mayor would spend as much time doing the right things for their town as they do posturing and politicking, we’d all be a lot better off.

Excuse me for a moment, I see a plastic bottle in the street. I’ll be right back.


3 thoughts on “On the Paris Agreement

  1. Lance- I applaud your direct communication and willingness to share this platform with your Apex citizens. But I’m saddened to hear that you/Apex feels it must take a hands off policy regarding the Paris agreement. True, your lone signature would likely have little real impact on that agreement. True, it would not improve the sidewalks of Apex and the immediate and tangible items that need to be dealt with. But what it would do is make a statement. It would identify publicly and easily where you stand and what your values about environmental awareness happen to be. You’ve explained them quite nicely above. But a signature, a vote, a yes or no, is a snapshot of what a person, or a town representative, stands for.
    I do believe we, as citizens of the earth, can make a difference in conserving and saving this planet one person, or one community, at a time. I hope, if the opportunity for you to sign anything that could help with this grassroots effort, you’ll reconsider the statement you choose to make.
    I do look forward to exchanging ideas with you again. You are a good person with a positive attitude. Thanks for sharing a responsible discussion with me.
    Rick Sullivan

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