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Mayor Chet Mann Remarks from Building Integrated Communities Sanford, NC Meeting

The following is the video and written transcript of Sanford, NC Mayor Chet Mann’s welcome speech at the Building Integrated Communities public meeting. In addition to welcoming immigrant residents, he enthusiastically put forth an invitation to Latino community members to take part in the city and county leadership. His speech, as well as the public presentation on Sanford/Lee County demographics, will be televised in English and Spanish on a local television station in Lee County. 

Hola and Bienvenido.  I am Chet Mann and I am proud to be your Mayor of Sanford. It is my pleasure to be with you here tonight and I thank you for coming.  As your Mayor I have been a big advocate of the Building Integrated Communities Effort in Sanford and Lee County. I believe that to truly be a shining City we must all be one people. I am very grateful to all those who are helping to integrate our Latino residents and who are helping us become an even better community because of our integration efforts. 

We love Sanford. It is our home town.  For me it has been my family’s home for over 100 years. You are here too because you have made it your home and have a love for this City also. Many of you have shared with us that you find Sanford to be peaceful, safe, and calm. We feel the same way and it is one of the many reasons we live here too. We want you to be here and we want you to share the great qualities of life that we have found to be true for decades.

As your Mayor and on behalf of the City of Sanford we want you to become an even greater part of our City. We estimate that there are nearly 4,400 Latino residents in Sanford or 16% of our population.  In order for us to be a great and prosperous City we need you to feel safe, respected, and productive the same as everyone else.  I understand that many of you don’t feel as safe as you should. That many of you face issues of racism and discrimination.  We do not condone that feeling or treatment in Sanford. We want all of our citizens to be treated fairly and equally based on their character and good heart. I also can tell you that it is my belief that the way to break through these barriers to a better life here are to embrace our efforts to integrate and become part of our fabric and not shy away from them. 

By integrating we mean to set aside our fears and reluctance to join in our community. . We know that to be a great City all of our citizens must participate and contribute to our well- being.  We want you to take advantage of our schools and educational opportunities. In order to get a better job you have to have a better education. We want you to register to vote. We want you to open businesses and play in our sports leagues, we want you to frequent our restaurants and shops, and we want you to have good jobs.  We are a City beginning its revitalization this month. This month we will be updating and improving our downtowns, adding more greenways and walking paths, and building more parks and recreational places. We will be putting a new emphasis on attracting new jobs and companies here with our new Economic Development Corporation. We hope to expand our housing and tax base.  We can do all that but if we don’t have you as an important part of our Community than we will never be the best City we can be. With nearly 7,000 Latino residents living in Sanford and Lee County today it is past time that you are represented.  It is time that there is a Hispanic Councilman in Sanford or a Hispanic County Commissioner in Lee County. You deserve to be represented but that starts in large part with you.  The first step to that representation is real Integration.  We are reaching out to you so please reach back out to us. Let’s hold hands and grow together so that all our children will know a better life.  So that 100 years from now one of your grandchildren can say their family has lived proudly and prosperously in Sanford for 100 years like me.  Maybe they will be speaking as Mayor or Senator or Governor! It is up to all of us – you and me – to work together, to set aside our natural fears, our past experiences, and our differences in order to enjoy all that Sanford has to offer and raise our families and live happily ever after. 

I am proud of you. I encourage and support you. I implore you to reach for more. Set your goals high and continue to work hard to receive the blessings you deserve.   The City of Sanford wants to love its Latino brothers and sisters. Hopefully, tonight will be a new beginning where we can learn more about you and your needs so that you can begin to find Sanford an even better place to live and we can count on you to help us be the best City and Community we can possibly be.

Thank you.