Wichita Falls faces many of the same challenge’s other cities face. Our record low unemployment (2.6 percent at last report) is both a blessing and a curse. It’s great that nearly everyone who wants a job has one, but for prospective employers it makes it difficult to call Wichita Falls home. It’s forced wages to increase as businesses compete for the best help, but quality employees are becoming increasingly tough to find.

Bottom line, we need more people to call Wichita Falls home. A lot of people with great ideas and intentions are working on making Wichita Falls a place more 18-49-year old’s want to call home, but it’s a process that takes time, investment and determination. Unfortunately, we, like every other city, have a few folks who have a solidly negative outlook for our city. They’ve earned the title CAVE-Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

I find fewer of them today than I did five or ten years ago, but they do persist. And they aren’t all the anti-tax-no-matter-what crowd, either. Some of them are anti-growth no matter where or how it happens. They’re happy with what Wichita Falls is right now, or what it was 30 years ago. They do us no favors whatsoever. They are negative on just about anything and everything you put forth. They are fewer in number as time goes along, but they remain very vocal and they vote. Too few of our 18-49 citizens exercise that right, which gives the anti-everything crowd even more power.

I’m far from a big tax guy. I’m a constitutional conservative who finds the size and scope of the federal government insulting. But I’m also pragmatic enough to understand that we have to do some things for ourselves as a community. We pay taxes to fund the collection of trash, the paving of our streets and the delivery of a safe, reliable water supply. We pay taxes for police and fire services. None of us wants to do without these things, but we raise hell like a pig under a gate about having to fund them.

What I and many others do ask is total transparency, accountability and reliability. We want our elected officials to run a tight ship, but we also want our city to be a place that our young people want to stay after high school and college, where families want to relocate to raise their children, buy homes and grow new small businesses. This requires an attitude adjustment on the part of some of our current citizens.

You can’t be negative Nancy on everything. When your mayor, your city council or your city manager do something you find questionable or don’t understand, call them, email them, go see them. Question them! I have. And you know what? I have yet to have any of them hang up on me or slam a door in my face. Perhaps I don’t always get the answer I’d like to get, but I get one. I ask questions, I offer input and constructive criticisms and, so far, they’ve at least heard me out.

Are there things our city government could do differently or better? Of course! Have questionable, if not downright suspect things happened in the past? Oh yeah. But it’s time to put the past behind us. WE cannot afford to continue to just sit around complaining about what so-and-so did or did not do 30 years ago. There are no magic pots full of money coming from Washington or Austin.

Most of the past players are no longer in the game. It’s time to look forward and take actions that make investors want to come to Wichita Falls to build, improve and grow this city. It’s time to take actions that make our young people want to stay and grow and build this city’s future.  It’s time to stop saying we can’t or we won’t and start saying we must. Yes, sometimes it will involve you and I, the taxpaying property owners, to pony up. Again, demand transparency and integrity, but don’t shout every idea down based on past actions, some real and some perceived.

Private and public investments will make Wichita Falls a better place, a desirable place, for all of us to be. Let’s push our city leadership to constantly look for better, more efficient was to use our tax dollars. Let’s insist on constant re-evaluation of what we’re doing; business as usual clearly isn’t the answer. It's time to elevate our city. Let’s get our heads, hearts and minds on the track of “Yes we can!”

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