By Leigh Altman
Editor’s note: Leigh Altman made the following remarks Dec. 7 after getting sworn in as an at-large member of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. This is her first term on the board.
Esteemed board members and voters of Mecklenburg County, I am Leigh Altman, and I’m excited to join you and to learn from you as we work together to improve the quality of life for all the residents of Mecklenburg County. Thank you to my truly incredible husband, our three teenage boys, my dear friends, members of the faith community and my amazing campaign staff and army of volunteers.
My background is as a public interest lawyer, where I worked on behalf of people who needed a voice. I’ve seen a lot of things that went wrong along the way — unequal justice under the law; hard-working folks getting preyed upon by scam artists; qualified renters being denied housing by racist landlords; the elderly and the infirm being mistreated sometimes even by their own family members; and children grappling with abuse mental health issues, neglect and lack of opportunity.
It broke my heart but it also intensified my resolve to find opportunities to make things right and just. That is why the county commission means so much to me.
I’m here to fight for families, and for me, that means two things: the health and safety of families and the economic empowerment of families, because poverty is one of the great common denominators of human suffering.
Now the management and recovery from COVID is paramount. We are going into a difficult winter and we will have to keep avoiding gatherings and we will have to keep wearing our masks. We will listen to our scientists to our caregivers and to our public health officials. Bless them all.
We must also confront systemic racism in all of our public institutions, whether from the criminal justice system to health care to education, wherever it may exist.
And we must work to increase the household wealth for our residents. I believe there is much more that we can do to connect people to training for 21st century jobs in growth industries here in Mecklenburg County.
We need to do this not only because we’ve seen record unemployment here in Mecklenburg County due to COVID but because improving household incomes is key to improving access to affordable housing, health care, transportation, food security and so much more.
As an at-large board member, it is my job to represent all the people throughout this entire county and I take this responsibility very seriously.
No matter who you are and no matter where you live in Mecklenburg County, I want you to know that I am here to learn from you and to listen to you. I am ready to get to work.