Maverick: A person who has challenged the accepted standards or practices of the business world and found success in diverging from the norm
Glen Lang believes in the notion of gravestone writing, that the details of a person’s life are ultimately forgotten and what’s most important is the nutshell summary left behind. He hopes his tombstone would say: “He made Cary a better place to live.”
Many people would disagree with him, however. He made waves as mayor of Cary from 1999 to 2003 by championing a slow growth model for the town.
Eight years after leaving public office, he’s not surprised people still think of him as the town’s best-known maverick. “I still have people come up to me at Angus Barn and tell me they hate me with every bone in their body,” Lang admitted.
A liberal Democrat in a Republican-dominant part of the country, Lang was bound to meet opposition from his peers, despite voters turning out in unusually high numbers for a mayoral race. Whereas other public figures praise Cary’s population growth rate as a sign that it’s a great place to live and a bolster to businesses, Lang firmly believed Cary needed to slow its growth and let the infrastructure catch up in terms of schools, roads and other public projects before the population could expand further.
While in office, Lang says he improved roads throughout Cary, decreased the percentage of children who went to school in trailers, decreased the residential growth rate and supported a number of other projects like recreational venues and senior centers.
“We need to cater to the young and the old,” he believes. “Everyone else can take care of themselves.”
Politicians usually aren’t proud of raising taxes, but Lang insists people are willing to pay as long as they get their money’s worth. “People want to be able to drive to work,” he said, so he believes they are open to higher taxes to improve roads as long as the improvements are tangible.
“I catered to the Yankees who moved down here,” he said. In his mind, they were used to paying property taxes far higher than Cary’s, which Lang said in comparison are nearly nonexistent. Even the native Southerners, Lang believes, have a standard of life where they would prefer to spend a bit extra in taxes and have more benefits.
Lang is now chief executive officer of Connexion Technologies, a communication network provider. He says he doesn’t run Connexion with a maverick stance, but does still enjoy a slightly offbeat business perspective. “I like the underdog position,” he said.