Serving in a political office was never one of my life’s aspirations. Now, I celebrate the one-year anniversary of my election to the Concord City Council.
With one year down in a four-year role, I am using “The Independent Tribune” to reflect upon my experiences.
Let me be clear. The content of these articles is only my personal perspective. My thoughts do not necessarily reflect those of other Council members. I do not speak for our Council or our City.
“The Independent Tribune” does not pay for these columns. I consider these articles to be part of my public service. Thanks to Mark Plemmons and Victoria Young of this paper for their encouragement.
I take final responsibility for all the content. All errors and omissions are mine.
Scope of information
All of the information I share is already available through public documents and platforms. The newly revised City website – www.concordnc.gov -- and other regular communications offer much more information.
I am simply providing a bird’s-eye impressionistic view of our City.
In addition to my Council duties, this year I also took part in Concord 101, a fourteen-week overview of the City available to all citizens. Led by City staff, my 68 classmates
and I studied many facets of our City’s life. We discovered so much about our City’s achievements, challenges, and possibilities.
Overall, without reservation, Concord continues to be the 24th best place to live in our nation. I am honored to serve on City Council.
Desire to serve
My goal in life has always been to serve God and my neighbors. For 42 years I have done so as an ordained Christian minister, primarily as a pastor of local churches. I love my vocation and have been blessed.
When I retired in 2018 from Central United Methodist Church (in downtown Concord across from the library), I began a more relaxing schedule: traveling, exploring family history, and having more time with friends and family.
A change in plans
In July 2019, Sam Leder, a distinguished member of the City Council, a community leader, and a friend, suddenly died. We all miss Sam and continue to support Shannon and their two boys.
Within days of Sam’s death, however, new candidates had to register for an open seat on the City Council. After many phone calls and visits with friends and community leaders, I decided to run for Concord Council District # 1.
I had less than four months to campaign for the very first time. Suddenly, I had to learn about fundraising, political signs, websites, advertising, and election laws. What followed were coffees, gatherings in homes and community buildings, and social media posts. I spent three weeks sitting (pre-COVID) outside the Elections Office during early voting. Friends worked the polls on election day.
With the support of many friends, I won the election.
Throughout my ministerial career, I have been a pastor to Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. I had to serve all people. I, therefore, am registered as Unaffiliated.
I was blessed that I received votes from Republicans, Democrats, and other Unaffiliated voters. We are entering a political landscape in which more people vote for the candidates and not the party. People in the middle are more numerous than voters at either extreme.
Incorrectly, as I ran for office, I believed that I already understood much about our City. I have been a resident since 2003. Church friends came from neighborhoods throughout the county. Political, business, and religious leaders were within my sphere of friends. I served with dozens of non-profits throughout our community.
What I have discovered is that the City of Concord is truly a major City. The tenth largest city in North Carolina, Concord encompasses over 100,000 people within 64 square miles. Our City budget is almost $270 million and is served by 1,100 City employees.
In this time of major population growth, together we now face major storms such as COVID-19, an economic crisis, and discussions about inequities. Concord also faces additional challenges with many opportunities to make us stronger.
Other people throughout our City understand the complexities we face far better than I. I have been humbled about how much more I have to learn.
A bright future
Despite all the headwinds facing Concord, our future is bright. Concord with its many advantages and opportunities continues to be an exceptional place to live, work, and play.
I am excited to be part of this wonderful City, and believe that you are also.
Join me as I continue this journey to know more about Concord.
Andy Langford is a member of the Concord City Council. He is a former pastor at Central United Methodist Church. He previously wrote a series articles on Cabarrus Communities of Faith for the Independent Tribune.