Huntersville Mayor Apologizes for Commissioner’s Anti-Toll Efforts

Late last month Huntersville Commissioner Rob Kidwell stepped out on a limb and asked the North Carolina legislature to consider postponing the I-77 toll project.  Given the fact we still don’t know basic information like anticipated toll rates it seemed like a reasonable- perhaps even courageous- request.

But apparently Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain didn’t think so.  Even though Kidwell’s email was in the first person (“I am now going to ask…”) she sent an email blast to every member of the North Carolina legislature saying Kidwell did not speak for the Huntersville. (Apparently the irony of sending it from her official town email and signing it as “Mayor of Huntersville” was lost on her.)

She indirectly chastised him for not “educating oneself on the particular issue prior to requesting an entire General Assembly to go back into session” and for not “respect(ing) the time of our elected officials and our governmental agencies.”  (You can read her entire email at the bottom of this post.  You can send an email of your own by clicking here.)

Swain then characterized tolling opponents as spreading misinformation:

It has been an arduous task to get details to our citizens and as you well know, when there are voids of information, people will fill them with their own assumptions. We have strived to combat misinformation for over a year and finally, seemed to be on the right track with a commitment from NCDOT to bring in officials and experts to begin a more open communication process with our elected officials and with our citizens.


This is a consistent pattern for Swain.  Witness her blog post on the topic:

It seems to have become okay to simply pull out one fact or two from a several hundred page document and use that as solid proof that something is wrong (or right).

So shame on us for relying on one source, or two sources, to make up our minds for us. Shame on us for relying on a sound bite or one blog post to determine that the “fact” they quoted really didn’t quite meet the accuracy test.

The “several hundred page document” she references was a consultant study the NCDOT forwarded us in response to our FOIA request.  NCDOT used that study to justify the toll lane project.  Despite that pedigree, in Swain’s mind it “didn’t quite meet the accuracy test.”

Indeed, she never seems to miss an opportunity to impugn our character.  Here she is discussing I-77 tolls on Senator Tarte’s facebook page:


But who exactly is uneducated on the issue?

Over a year ago Widen I-77 predicted one way tolls in the $6- 10 range. An NCDOT consultant came up with $9.  Meanwhile, Swain was touting tolls less than a tenth of that:

It will be worth an extra 30 cents to me to reach Charlotte in time for meetings. It may be worth it to you to have an IT expert pay 46 cents to come from Charlotte to Huntersville to make sure you get payroll out on time.

We’re far from perfect but to our knowledge have never presented anything that is materially inaccurate.

Rather than oblique attacks our character, a far more productive effort would be fostering open discussion and debate.  It would also be an effort befitting an elected official.

We would welcome such a debate… and let the public decide.

Here is Swain’s email:


17 Responses to Huntersville Mayor Apologizes for Commissioner’s Anti-Toll Efforts

  1. PJ Cash says:

    You all are LIARS. Well, whomever wrote this piece. Specifically this: “We would welcome such a debate… and let the public decide.”
    I have tried asking questions on your Facebook page. I was finally blocked from posting. You don’t want open dialogue. You want your way or the highway. Hey, that was sort of a play on words if you didn’t get it. How long before you block me from here?

    • Widen I-77 says:

      PJ- We have a “two P” rule for comments: no profanity and no personal attacks. Calling someone a liar is a personal attack.

      I don’t run the FB page, but if your commentary runs along the same lines I fully support our FB manager blocking you.

      If you would like to debate or discuss, you are welcome to attend any of the public sessions we have held and are continuing to hold. If you have a specific issue or point you would like to raise feel free to do so in this forum, but recognize that as grass roots volunteers we have limited bandwidth to give exhaustive replies in writing.


      • steve baker says:

        all leaders are nothing but < > and only for themselves…I hope this stupid toll road falls through.. we would have money to build roads if the elected trash officials quit stealing it!@!! send all of them packing election time.greedy bastards!

      • PJ Cash says:

        Did you write this article? Are you the leader of widen I77? Is the facebook page ran by another group, then? I asked many questions on a public forum. I was threatened, called names and made fun of. Even in a thread you had commented on. So,if you were telling the truth, your group would not have deleted my comments. And, you would have answered my questions about your statements at the meeting in Mooresville. So, you reply to this because I don’t bow to your words. While I have not been to any of your events, I have attended NCDOT meetings and asked questions. I don’t like the tolls but I see no other way to pay for our road needs over the next 50 years. I have asked your group on multiple times to tell me what your plan is to fix our roads statewide, not just 77. I have been told to look to this website. The answers are not here. I offered to have a sitdown with one of your supporters who made fun of me and called me names on the facebook site that apparently your group doesn’t run. He backed out when I gave him actual facts and numbers about our state’s needs. So, either you or at least one of your supporters is a liar. That is not a personal attack. It is a fact. You have tried to shut me up. I will try to attend your next meeting. Be ready for my questions

      • PJ Cash says:

        AND, I am called STUPID by one of your supporters in the comments on this article. The Mayor is made out to be getting something for supporting the toll road. AND, there are 3 different Bakers posting comments in this article. Are they all the same? 2 of them posted the same thing 2 minutes apart. Looks like personal attacks are ok as long as they stand behind you???? What do you say.

      • PJ Cash says:

        And, when is your next 2 meetings? I will try to attend one. I forgot to ask and you didn’t say in your invite. How many minutes do I get? Is it like a town council meeting where you only take so many comments or for so many meetings? Do you post the agenda in advance? I don’t see it listed on your site.

  2. Ray Suarez says:

    I’m sorry to say but the Mayor of Huntersville is not the Queen. The Commissioner who made the request to postpone the inevitable failed toll lanes, was listening to the people who elected him. Unlike Mayor Swain and Thom Tillis, Commisioner Kidwell finally gets it. Part of the reason Tillis is behind in his race with Kay Hagan is his failure to listen to his own constituents. It’s not too late Thom. For the sake of avoiding the misery LKN will endure for the next several years cancel the pending contract for the toll road and proceed with the general purpose lanes built for far fewer dollars than building toll roads. Isn’t that what conservatism is about?

  3. REPaint says:

    Mayor Swain must be benefiting financially from this boondoggle. Perhaps she has been promised a promotion to the state house? I guarantee she will not accept responsibility when this project goes bankrupt

  4. Pattie Marshall says:

    Mayor Swain does not get it and does not have the best interest for her town of Huntersville. The public has not been given ANY vote on this. This has been decided behind closed doors. General Purpose lanes have NOT been looked at for the lake norman area. I have attended all meetings where the NCDOT told US what we are getting..toll lanes. This will cause complete gridlock for the lake norman area…take a look at the work at exit 28 that caused complete gridlock of this entire town last Saturday. Next up, tearing out 11 bridges that nothing is wrong with to accomodate toll lanes (not to mention 25 miles of construction adding one or two toll lanes – of course only ONE toll lane in Lake Norman area where the congestion is. Unbelievable.

  5. steve baker says:

    anyone tha supports toll roads are pure stupid!! Us regular poor citizens pay tons of taxes and fees to have roads built for us..TOLL ROADS ARE NOT THE ANSWER..unless your rich and stupid enough to pay tolls…free lanes is want is only fair ..we paid for these free roads..and getting screwed by elected scum who are greedy and need to be thrown out of office now!

  6. dave Baker says:

    anyone tha supports toll roads are pure stupid!! Us regular poor citizens pay tons of taxes and fees to have roads built for us..TOLL ROADS ARE NOT THE ANSWER..unless your rich and stupid enough to pay tolls…free lanes is want is only fair ..we paid for these free roads..and getting screwed by elected scum who are greedy and need to be thrown out of office now!

  7. Jennifer Davis says:

    A follow up to my last post, I realize I said widen 77 not Toll roads. Which confirms my lack of education. To clarify, I’d like to see I-77 widened. Here is an outlandish request…Let the people vote.

  8. […] County also cast votes. Combined with Charlotte, the three entities count for 51% of any vote. Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain also casts a vote representing the Metropolitan Transportation […]

  9. Jeff Davis says:

    Jill Swain, your resume and dedication to serving Huntersville is impressive. I understand your frustration after investing so much time in the toll road project only to discover an undercurrent that could cause all your efforts to go to waste.

    I suspect Commissioner Kidwell chose the email detour because he felt his opposition to the toll road project was “road blocked.” Your letter of apology appeared more like a way to quiet a voice of opposition than to solicit help from the NCDOT.

    One of the greatest privileges of Democracy is the Freedom of Speech, even if the person on the stage is shouting out the very words that make your skin crawl, it is their right. After all interests are voiced, we VOTE. Not everybody wins, but at least we had the opportunity to make an informed decision.

    A much shorter email to the officials could have simply stated that “Commissioner Kidwell’s email suggests that there is a need for more communication with the Lake Norman Community about the benefits of the toll road project and I need the NCDOT’s help.”

    As a 20 year resident of Huntersville and a Real Estate Agent, I am proud to tell clients moving to the Lake Norman Area that “this is one of the Best Places to Live.” The recent news of the toll road and fears of $20 fares to Charlotte has caused several clients to ask me to search other areas not affected by the toll road. This shift in thinking concerns me and I need to know the toll road project will improve traffic flow to Charlotte and not cause a downward turn in future real estate values for the Lake Norman Area.

    I have to wonder… Why is Lake Norman being considered as the first in our area to implement a toll road? The worst traffic flow problem of the Charlotte Metro Area is the segment of I-485 East of I-77. Widening construction is nearly complete. Why not add a toll lane there to see how it works? The demonstration of the toll road benefits would eliminate the “Fear of the Unknown” and build support for implementing similar change to I-77 North. If the toll road is truly a benefit, you couldn’t build it fast enough.

    Just a thought…

  10. Get fuzzy says:

    Dwight d. Eisenhower would be ashamed of our local, state and federal government’ s failure to properly allocate road funds to aid the fastest growing location in N.C., and the location of the second busiest north-south interstate in the nation. Remember when the long, Lake Norman bridge was resurfaced? Remember driving thru Davidson behind ten trucks? Our sensible planners would have envisioned a parallel bridge and a widened I-77 to effectively ease the traffic burden and the future need to resurface I-77’s roads and bridges. Not going to happen! We paid for this in our taxesover MANY years – and what do we get – another tax/toll lane!

  11. Jon Garvey says:

    Wow what a control freak! I’m sorry Jill, but you don’t get to tell people who they can, and can’t, send emails to.

    Especially another independently elected official.

  12. […] support for private toll lanes put her in opposition with the anti-toll group Widen I-77, and with some of her own board. In one instance she fired off an email to the entire NC […]

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