Michael Careccia sees tremendous potential in Caldwell County, but he’s not seeing the kind of leadership required to reach that potential. That’s why he decided to run for a seat on the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners.

In the last six months, Careccia has been building his campaign with a particular focus in mind: bringing up new ideas and giving Democrats a much-needed voice in local government. Careccia is one of the first Democratic candidates for County Commissioner in eight years.

A local concern Careccia is focused on is the opioid crisis. With this crisis prevalent in the Hickory area (ranked fifth worst city in the United States for opioid abuses), the issue is a very real one. Careccia said he wants to work with law enforcement and local organizations to battle the opioid epidemic in the area and reverse its alarming trend.

Another concern in Caldwell County is education. Careccia wants to see a bigger investment in the county’s future by improving the overall environment in schools through sufficient funding. Careccia said of education: “We must invest in our children, our grandchildren, Caldwell County students, for the future of Caldwell County.”

Caldwell County doesn’t have to look far to find the funding for future improvements and tax base. Careccia would like to capitalize on busy U.S. 321 as well as Caldwell County’s natural beauty and attractions for a much-needed revenue boost. “Tourists go straight through 321 to get to Watauga County,” he said. “They stop here for fast food, they stop here to shop at Wal-Mart, but that’s about it. We need ideas to get them to stop here.” Careccia cited local businesses and art in addition to natural beauty as assets to bring in tourism, comparing our revenue of $40 million in tourism to Watauga County’s profit of $250 million. If this revenue could be increased, the income could contribute to things such as property tax and improving local schools. Careccia suggests the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce and the Caldwell Arts Council are possible resources to bring this tourism into Caldwell County.

“I believe that Caldwell County can help lead western North Carolina into [becoming] an environmentally-friendly, clean, energy-efficient place to live.”

Careccia also wants environmental improvements. “I believe that Caldwell County can help lead western North Carolina into [becoming] an environmentally-friendly, clean, energy-efficient place to live,” he said. He spoke of bringing in businesses that would benefit the environment, such as solar farms and wind turbines. In addition, he expresses a desire to keep water and the county’s land clean, both to preserve and enhance its natural features.

“He’s qualified, active, interested, with enthusiasm and good ideas for the future,” said Tom Blanton, another Democratic candidate for County Commissioner, when asked about Michael Careccia. “He’s strong on renewable energy, and I think it’ll be good for the county’s economy and future to pursue that.”

Another emphasis Careccia made was on the living wage in Caldwell County. Careccia outlines an ideal minimum wage of eleven dollars an hour for Caldwell County, but adds that he would like to see more than that, asserting eleven dollars should be a minimum requirement for any new businesses coming to Caldwell County.

A problem in Caldwell County is the lack of information provided to the public about what its local government is doing. Careccia intends to change this. “I vow to participate in all aspects of our county’s government,” said Careccia. “And the people I report to first are the people of Caldwell County, because I believe that a more informed and involved community is a prosperous community.”