Since being Mayor, Southport has been nationally recognized as "America's Happiest Seaside Town" and " The Best Beach Town in America for Celebrating July Fourth (2017), both accolades awarded by Coastal Living Magazine. As Southport continues to gain national attention for being a wonderful place to visit and live, transportation and infrastructure must have a stronger focus than ever before. Easing traffic congestion and improving our roads is imperative to our community and the key to our future success.
While we welcome these visitors and the vibrant boost to our economy that they bring, it is a fact of life that they bring an added strain to our roads, highways and infrastructure systems. There are currently several transportation projects underway aimed at easing the congestion and improving the flow of traffic around the area, but many residents remain confused about what these projects will accomplish, when they will be finished and what to expect next on the transportation agenda. I am a member of the Cape Fear Rural Transportation Advisory Committe, which affords me the opportunity to work with the Department of Transportation to address the needs of our highway system that are associated with the growth of our city.
Continued improvements to our breathtaking waterfront continue to be extremely important as well. It is the main destination for those visiting our city for dining, entertainment, historical site tours, festivals, boating and fishing and so much more! Shoreline erosion is an issue for Southport and I plan to keep the momentum of projects that will address and protect our amazing shoreline. It is important that we work closely with governmental and environment agencies to repair and improve the natural beauty of this area, while not impacting the environment.
Long-term planning is essential, not just because the economy and society are changing, but because it is how communities define themselves and commit to working towards a common goal. Involvement of all citizens is vital. Cultivating strong partnerships among all stakeholders - our citizens, public and private businesses and area leaders - allows us to continue to refine our vision of our city's future and work together to successfully execute our plan. Areas to address as part of our strategic, long-term plan include economic development, environmental management, maintaining our traditional neighborhoods and development of new ones, improving municipal services, diversifying the tax base and improving the infrastructure within our city.
Having spent five decades in law enforcement, the issues surrounding public safety are obviously near and dear to my heart. Southport has always enjoyed a low crime rate and strong sense of security in our neighborhoods and homes, but public safety is about much more than crimes and criminals. It is about adapting the laws that protect our people in congruence with our growing community; it is about ensuring the variety of services that provide safety and security are run in an efficient and orderly manner; and that we have strong planning, preparedness strategies and fiscal management of these agencies.
The public safety employees found within our police force, fire and emergency medical services take tremendous care of our residents - they respond quickly, they are well-trained and they are our neighbors and friends. As mayor, I have been committed to ensuring that our first responders have the resources and training they need to continue to protect our city's most valuable asset - its people. I will also continue, as I have for decades, to keep an eye on crime and identify areas for improvement and prevention. A low crime rate doesn't stay that way without keeping a vigilant watch on how criminals are ever evolving and staying one step ahead of them. You can be assured that there is no one with more experience, more insight or more passion around the issues of Southport's public safety than myself.