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New councilors must address old complaints

Forgetting about Team 3 would be a mistake for the new Cornelius councilors.

With last week's appointment of two more councilors, the Cornelius City Council, city employees,

residents and regional partners can begin to move forward following a divisive year of internal turmoil that culminated with the recall of former Mayor Neal Knight and his two council allies.

While we are always uneasy when elected posts are filled by appointments, the choices in Cornelius were good ones.

Harley Crowder was appointed earlier this fall, joining Councilor Steve Heinrich and acting Mayor Jef Dalin, so that the five-member panel had a quorum. Last Monday night, Dave Schamp and Jose Orozco were tapped for the last two spots and Dalin was officially selected as the new mayor.

The three councilors won't have the luxury of learning on the job. First, they must continue the process of finding a new city manager.

Then, the new the council must set new priorities for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends next June.

And, before they know it, it will be time to craft a new budget.

That's enough for any city council, let alone one with three rookies on the dais.

But, we believe there's another item that needs to be dealt with directly and quickly: the legacy of Team 3.

The trio of ousted council members lost their jobs because they misled voters. While campaigning, Knight vowed to work with former city manager Dave Waffle and then, even before taking office, started angling to fire him.

When the the Gang of Three pushed Waffle out the door in June, it was only a matter of time before voters did the same to Knight and his two lackeys.

It would be tempting to try and forget that sad chapter in Cornelius' civic life, but it would be a mistake.

Here's why:

Team 3 was elected a year ago because (a) they campaigned harder then the three incumbents they beat and (b) Knight had a message that resonated with voters. Cornelius, he complained, was stifling business development with its excessive fees, burdensome regulations and overly expensive city government.

Knight never produced any proof of those allegations (and our reporting failed to support them) but they are still hanging out there.

The new council must find a way to bring local business leaders and property owners into the process, hear their ideas for improving the city and enlist their support for any changes that make sense.

Team 3 passed up the chance to take that path. The new council shouldn't make that same mistake.