Ken Robertson’s 12-year tenure was marked by a consistent, strong support of public schools.
Upon the occasion of his last meeting as a commissioner, Our Schools First was pleased to present this commendation during the public comment period in honor of Ken Robertson’s service to Iredell County.
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016
When Ken Robertson was first sworn in as Iredell County Commissioner in 2004, things around here looked different. Interstate 77 had fewer exits, Iredell had nearly forty thousand fewer residents, school choice didn’t exist, and nobody carried iPhones—because they hadn’t been invented yet. While none of these things in particular is under the jurisdiction of a county commissioner, Ken Robertson has helped guarantee Iredell County was positioned for success as our county and world grew larger and larger.
As an officer in the United States Army, Robertson developed a disciplined mind that depended on facts. “Not making a decision is seen as making a very bad decision by default,” Robertson said in a 2013 interview. “I prefer to be part of the decision-making process because I know my decisions will be based upon facts and experience, not wishful thinking.”
Iredell County constituents of all stripes have always been assured fair representation by Commissioner Robertson. He’s never shied away from discussing tough issues with people who disagreed with him. But, as Robertson said, “What I dislike is trying to have such a discussion with someone who has failed to educate themselves with facts or failed to consider indirect ramifications.”
Robertson’s fiscal conservatism has served Iredell’s taxpayers well over his 12 years in office. Iredell has maintained the lowest property tax rate in our region, and his wise stewardship enabled our county to sufficiently weather the 2009 global recession. Robertson’s concern for the bottom line kept Iredell free of unmanageable debt.
But that doesn’t mean Robertson hasn’t pushed for county investments when they make good sense. During Commissioner Robertson’s tenure, Iredell voters have approved two education bond referenda, including the 2014 bond decision that delivered $131 million to Iredell-Statesville and Mooresville Graded Schools and Mitchell Community College. Robertson was a champion of the effort, introducing the motion for the bond to be placed on the ballot and urging voters to ensure its passage.
Not every county commissioner could attend the Cool Spring Elementary School groundbreaking ceremony in the winter of 2015, but Ken Robertson was there, shovel in hand, ready to begin construction on a desperately needed upgrade for those students. This past fall, when the new building was completed on time and under budget, our county’s wise investment was tangibly realized, and the Cool Spring community moved into a school house they can be proud of for years to come.
Robertson has worked with our state legislative delegation to ask for more per-pupil funding, pushing Raleigh to level the playing field for state appropriations. And listening to educators—and common sense—Robertson voted against a county policy that would have armed public school teachers.
In his dozen years on the county commission, Ken Robertson has always understood that most issues—especially those concerning public education funding—are complex matters requiring a discerning approach to governance. Says Robertson, “A favorite quote of mine is ‘For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple—and wrong.’”
Our Schools First is grateful that Commissioner Robertson has spent his time on the board endeavoring to find the right answers, not just the easy ones, and working to promote our community’s prosperity, even when it meant taking on manageable debt. Our county’s school children, the young men and women who will become our next generation of leaders, are in a better position to realize their potential thanks to Ken Robertson’s remarkable tenure.
We wish him the very best as he returns to a full life away from public service. Please join us in expressing our utmost appreciation for his hard work and invaluable service to Iredell County.
Beth Packman, President
Our Schools First