I’ve known that my town is essential for a long time – long before COVID-19 and the current crisis we’re facing as a nation.
I knew before I was elected to Lexington Town Council in 2004. I knew before I joined the National League of Cities, first as a representative of my community, and now as its First Vice President.
Because all cities, towns, and villages are essential. America’s communities are special and they’re home to our families, our workers and over 80 percent of our nation’s residents.
But I’ll be honest, it’s tough out here right now, for everyone. I’m thankful that Lexington is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in South Carolina. Our success and growth in the past have in large part been due to the people who live here, the businesses that thrive here, and the spirit that grows here.
Right now, those people, businesses, and spirits are facing challenges they have never faced before. In South Carolina, we are concerned for our small businesses. This week, our state allowed restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity, and in our town, we saw the return of our farmers markets. Next week, you can get your haircut too.
Even still, the small businesses that make Lexington Lexington have such a tough road ahead. We’re doing what we can, including our recent council vote for a $25 credit on water and sewer bill for residents if they support a small business, but we need more support for our town. We need partnership from the federal government.
Not one city or town in South Carolina got direct funding in the CARES Act. Not one. We need to keep all of America’s communities and residents connected and engaged in our recovery. We can only recover from this crisis if we are united and working together.
That is why I’m proud of NLC’s Cities Are Essential campaign – because every city, town and village is essential to America’s economic comeback. Direct funding to local communities is the only way to restart our nation’s economy.
Our nation was built by small towns like mine. Now, so many of our nation’s small and rural communities are facing the real possibility of being wiped out. We cannot allow that to happen. We need to support our communities and our municipal workers, who are doing everything they can to keep our country going.
Municipal workers are the everyday heroes keeping our country running – firefighters, sanitation workers, health care professionals, and police. They are our neighbors and friends, and they make our communities the places we love to call home. In Lexington, the police department is going above and beyond every day to keep us safe – they’re even leading parades to celebrate children’s birthdays at a safe distance. That is what Lexington is all about.
Unfortunately, across the country, municipal workers are the ones whose jobs are threatened by lean local budgets and falling revenues.
Every local elected official is doing what they can to lift up their city or town. At the city works department, in the council chamber, or the mayors’ office, we are closest to the people. We know what citizens need and we are working with everything we’ve got to make sure the American way of life continues.
Lexington and America, I can tell you this: We are going to get through this – and we’re going to be better for it. Let’s rise together and rebuild America together.
About the Author: Councilmember Kathy Maness serves on the Town Council of Lexington, South Carolina, and is the first vice president of the National League of Cities. Maness has been an active member of NLC since taking public office in 2004, including serving as president of the Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) constituency group. Her areas of expertise include education, finance and youth civic engagement opportunities. In addition to her role as a councilmember, Maness is the Executive Director of Palmetto State Teachers Association.