Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor — Bill Cole

[media-credit name="Bill Cole" align="alignright" width="150"][/media-credit]William “Bill” Cole ― Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor
Age: 52
Occupation: Software solution architect
Campaign website: None

Very few people know what the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor does. How would you explain to voters what you do?
The Soil and Water District is an organization that is non-regulatory. We’ve been chartered by the state to, if you will, help direct federal and state grant money towards agriculture and conservation projects. A lot of what the board of supervisors does is to review projects, approve them, sign off on them. Ah, what else? Our budget. We don’t necessarily provide any direct money for conservation. All of our conservation work is funded through grants, through the USDA and EPA and DENR.

We’re about implementing conservation projects on the ground that affect soil, water – water in particular – while both for the agriculture community and also for the urban community, which is definitely one of our developing goals is to start working with urban conservation projects and education. Because we’re finding that, at least within Wake County, which is a highly metropolitan area, there are only 800 farms in Wake County, okay, so, the number of agricultural projects are somewhat limited although some farms are big. But really, the environmental impact in Wake County arises primarily from residential, suburban, types of conservation problems.

What are your priorities for the office if elected?
My priorities is to find additional sources of funding for the district, whether they be through the federal government, or through the state, too – that’s one. Secondly, to work with land trusts throughout the state – coastal land trusts, piedmont land trust, Triangle land trust, nature conservancy, all of the above – to work, partner with them on conservation projects. Or we can perhaps partner with them and provide some money for them, in addition to helping them with their goals of creating either protected or open space within Wake County. My third goal is to educate people about the water quality issues that I see are going to be critical in the next 10 to 20 years.

I’m a firm believer that fresh water is going to become as valuable a resource as oil at some point in the near future. With a lot of the climate change that’s occurring right now, coupled with just the population of growth within the world, fresh water is becoming a rarer and rarer commodity. We in the United States are actually blessed with an abundance of fresh water, so we don’t feel it as acutely as, perhaps, Europe or other parts of the world. But the key is, we have to start protecting and conserving our freshwater resources better. Without fresh water, there is no life.

Why should your constituents elect you?
I bring a diverse, pragmatic background to the role. I grew up on a farm in central Indiana, but after taking an engineering degree, I haven’t looked back and I’ve lived in suburbia ever since. What that’s given me is a perspective to look both at the agricultural side of life and the urban side of life. I pride myself on not being a rabid ecologist. I realize that conservation has to be tempered with the economic constraints that we’re operating under, in addition to the needs for growth. I mean, the population is growing. You know, we need to accommodate the new people that are coming in. And so, I think I bring a diverse perspective in addition to an engineering background that makes me somewhat uniquely suited to this particular role. More so than, perhaps, your traditional candidate.

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