MONROE — Bob Yanacsek lives by a paraphrased quote from Lord Robert Baden-Powell which states: “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it …”
Though he is not leaving Monroe anytime soon, he wants to make the city of roughly 35,000 a better place than when he moved here. To do that, Yanacsek is running for mayor. He has campaigned for council and mayor once before.
Just like current Mayor Bobby Kilgore, Yanacsek has experience in law enforcement. He will be retiring this year from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department after serving for 30 years.
He grew up near Marshville and graduated from Forest Hills High School. He has lived in Union County since 1978.
A high crime rate is a concern that city residents often address. To reduce the amount of crime in the city, Yanacsek’s plan is for police to work with departments within city government to run criminals out.
For example, police officers would work with code enforcement to remove a suspected criminal from a home with obvious code enforcement violations. Either the home be inspected and repaired, or the suspected criminal could move out. In most instances, the suspected criminal would leave the property. He said this method worked in the City of Charlotte.
“If you make it difficult for a criminal to live in that area they tend to move somewhere else and not only is that a good thing — it also makes a place better for those that are good citizens. The quality of life goes up a lot more not only because there is a reduction in crime, but you also have properties starting to be taken care of, animal welfare is taken care of, traffic,” Yanacsek said.
“I think that’s what we’re missing in Monroe. The police do a great job…but they can’t do it alone. You can’t arrest your way out of crime trends.”
Implementing this method would effectively revitalize areas that are subject to more crime like in the historic district where Yanacsek lives. He said there is a large amount of gun violence that occurs near his home.
Yanacsek stated that as mayor, it’s important to remove all biases when making decisions that affect citizens’ lives, which he learned how to do when he trained to be a police officer. In training, he said he learned how to listen to everyone regardless of their differing opinions or backgrounds. He admitted that if elected mayor, he would have to keep his bias toward law enforcement and emergency services “in check.”
In the coming years, as Monroe sees construction of more homes and apartment complexes, it will need to increase its police and emergency services personnel at the taxpayers’ expense. Yanacsek said he’s not against residential growth, but he favors responsible growth. He sees importance in considering residential growth’s impact on law enforcement, emergency services, schools and roads.
“When these developments come before the planning board and the city, you can’t look at it as a single island when there are ten other islands getting ready to be created near it. You have to look at the whole picture,” Yanacsek said. New residential development projects have to be taken into context of what is being built and existing surrounding developments.
Yanacsek said there is a national shortage of police officers. The City of Charlotte, he said, needs 250 more officers and the City of Monroe — he guessed — needed nine to patrol the current population. An issue he would address as mayor, if elected, is to bring more officers to Monroe to help patrol the city as more people move to the area.
Yanacsek would like voters to know: “I take the business of being mayor very seriously. No matter what decision you make, it impacts someone’s life … it’s much like police work. You make decisions all day that impact somebody’s life.”