Clear vision needed

Aug. 15, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

Max Dolan spends his time talking to people — daily with veterans he’s trying to help get benefits for, weekly at Sanford Jobseekers where he mentors the unemployed or for years as a former overseas missionary.

Now, Dolan hopes to take what he has heard and address the community’s concerns through public office.

“My heart is with people,” Dolan said. “The people of Sanford, I have never seen a community this generous. We need to take advantage of the friendly, generous spirit to make our community better."

Dolan, a Veterans Affairs Benefits Briefer at Fort Bragg, is seeking the Republican nomination for the Sanford City Council at-large district seat and faces fellow Republican Keith Clark in the Sept. 10 primary. The Republican winner will campaign against the Democratic nominee, either incumbent L.I. “Poly” Cohen or challenger Chas Post, in the general election.

Dolan ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Lee County Board of Commissioners last year and said, despite the loss, he was still committed to serving his home.

“I really wanted to become more involved in my community,” he said. “It’s not just politics, it’s because I care. I want to have more influence than simply voting. I’ve applied for various boards and the board of trustees for the (Central Carolina Community) College. I decided that a way I could make a positive impact was to run for public office.”

City Council has become stale with little movement, he said, adding there must be forward momentum in a clear direction. 

“We need a vision,” Dolan said. “A strategic plan that will put something in front of the people. Something that asks where we think Sanford should look like in five years. Ten years. And ask for their input.”

The council needs to tap into resources already available and seek the input from its residents by holding town hall meetings and public forums to discover the community’s concerns.

“I am a firm believer of the old concept of brainstorming,” Dolan said. “Even if they are silly, it’s an idea. And sometimes, at the base of a silly idea is a kernel of a good idea. ... Then you put the recommendations in front of the people so they have a chance to give their input. It’s not a vague plan or concept. You already have a strategic plan and then establish goals for their accomplishments. From the conservative point of view, you pay when you have the money. You don’t want to take on additional debt.”

Dolan said he was glad the city’s $14.5 million bond referendums — which include funds for a proposed open space with water elements, expanding the Endor Iron Furnace, extending sidewalks within city limits and streetscape improvements for downtown Sanford and Jonesboro — would be decided by the voters. But that he believed the timing was off and that the city shouldn’t load more debt onto its shoulders.

“I do not believe we should be increasing taxes and bonds are not free money,” Dolan wrote in a campaign questionnaire provided to The Herald. “Let’s see what we have to work with after the election. For my part, I’m for improved sidewalks.”