A new start for Jeff Tarte
by Staff Writer
by Jackson Sveen
CORNELIUS – After becoming a state senator this week, Jeff Tarte’s first order of business was swearing in
Lynette Rinker as Cornelius mayor.
Tarte will serve in Raleigh as the first senator for the newly created District 41. He makes the move after serving three terms as Cornelius mayor and as a member of the Park Arts Recreation and Culture Commission.
As mayor, he oversaw major town and county initiatives including the Red Line Regional Rail project, Cornelius Veterans Monument and the Mecklenburg County revaluation.
“When I ran for mayor five years ago,” Tarte said, “there were three things I said I would do. The first was to work on establishing relationships with my town boards and staff, try to establish relationships with other elected bodies and third, to create an environment where citizens would get involved and want to participate.”
Mayor Rinker announced the town’s newest baseball field at the Westmoreland Athletic Complex would be named the Jeffery B. Tarte Field to honor his contributions to PARC, the town and Mecklenburg County.
Judge Frank Whitney, a retired colonel and combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, swore Tarte into office during the Jan. 7 board meeting. Whitney serves the Western District Court of North Carolina.
“I really think that the sun won’t shine as brightly in the morning because you won’t be mayor,” Rinker said. “You often say that the motto of Cornelius is ‘A great place to live and work, where everyone loves their mayor,’ and I hope that remains true tomorrow.”
All the commissioners, minus Dave Gilroy who was absent, told the crowd what Tarte’s presence has meant to the town.
“When I think of Jeff, I always think of the friendly face of our town,” Commissioner Jeff Hare said. “Going to Raleigh now and knowing the issues of a small town and the issues that citizens face here will be very helpful. You understand that we don’t see a lot coming back from Raleigh to a small town like Cornelius. We’d love to see more coming back this way.”
Commissioner Chuck Travis gave an especially emotional response as he said this was a day he had been dreading for a while.
“We joke about the ceremonial aspects of being a mayor, but I can remember the first time I came to speak to the town board when I was on an advisory board. (Tarte) made me feel so important. He made me feel like I made a difference for the town. Because of that, I ran for commissioner for the town. The impact you had on me, the personality that reaches out and touches everyone, I want you to take that to Raleigh and inspire others to get involved there as well.”
Town hall was packed with commissioners, town staff, past mayors, business leaders, community members and friends, who Tarte thanked for their support.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships whether it’s family or serving in the community. It’s the people’s lives you touch and the lives that touch you. Service is just a part of that, whether its PTA, Cub Scouts or Rotary and I encourage everyone to get involved.”