1. Why are you running for mayor?
Well, I’m running for mayor of Raleigh because I’m concerned about the direction that the city is going in right now. I think that there’s a group of individuals that aren’t being represented within the city. And I think that the priorities that the current leadership has are misplaced. So I’m running to go ahead and present a good, clear image of leadership within the community and represent everyone in Raleigh, not just a select few.
Could you explain, who do you feel is underrepresented?
Well, I think that the people that are being affected by the UDO or the rezoning and remapping of Raleigh. There’s 45,000 property owners that are losing and hurting part of their property rights with this rezoning. And especially southeast Raleigh, where it was predominantly settled by some of the first freed slaves in Raleigh. And now the city has decided that they know what is best for that development. And all those communities down there are going to be broken apart in the name of progress.
Forty-five thousand properties is a major number, and typically 500 is a reasonable number of properties to be rezoned every year, but to affect 45,000, I think that that’s a very large number. And honestly in the past ten years or so, not everyone in Raleigh has been very beneficial in this success. Meaning we get almost $2 billion in debt, which I understand debt’s going to accumulate in a city the size of Raleigh. However, I don’t think that everyone in Raleigh has benefited from this. Certain roads get taken care of while others don’t. Our police and firemen are starting out at $34,281 a year. They haven’t had a significant pay raise in the last 10 years. So there’s a lot of different issues of individuals that aren’t being represented. I just want to present a good … I think that we need to sit down and listen to everyone in the community, not just a select few.
2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city and also what would you propose to do about it?
I think the largest issue that we have right now is the basic infrastructure. Infrastructure hasn’t been able to keep up with current growth. Our budget has gone from $411 million in 2007 to $834 million today. And our population has increased at a large pace also. But last year in a city council meeting — it was the April 2nd of 2014 city council meeting — they pointed out the fact that the current roads that we have, the roads project we’re at a current pace of replacing each road in Raleigh at a rate of 113 years.
I don’t that’s feasible. Definitely when you drive around Raleigh you’re avoiding potholes everywhere. We only have a 21 person roads project — that’s three teams of seven people that go out and they patch these roads. And the basic infrastructure, we need to look at that. We’re talking about the roads, we’re talking about the water, and we’re talking about sewer.
3. A text change ordinance was recently passed restricting sidewalk dining. Was this the right move, and why or why not? What kind of balance should be struck between revelers and residents?
We already have current ordinances for noise, we have ordinances for sidewalk safe passage, you can’t be blocking the sidewalk, we also have fire code things in place. I think that it was a very large and encompassing overreach by local government. I think this mayor’s kind of out of touch with the fact that she voted for that. What we need to do — it’s hurting these local businesses — and we spent millions of dollars to build up that downtown community and make it vibrant and now we’re coming in and we’re saying, “Well, that’s too much.” Or we don’t like that. OK?
And basically what this mayor and the city council’s doing, is they’re picking winners and losers, and whenever government officials start to pick winners and losers there’s going to be a recourse, and you’re starting to see that anger in the local population. And people are upset and it’s hitting them in the pocketbook, and a lot of people that own establishments, the servers, the busboys, everyone has a financial investment in that, and they’re being hurt by this overreach of government. Again it’s misplaced priorities.
4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of top ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?
Well, I love Raleigh. Raleigh is a great community. I think that they’re on the right path. I don’t think that this mayor has really contributed to that. I think that everything has kind of set up in motion. And we’ve got some wonderful businesses in the community that have driven that. Some of our local amenities here and our weather is definitely beneficial to the residents of Raleigh.
However, I still think that Raleigh could be doing better than what it is today. With the patio restrictions, with our police and firemen being underpaid for ten years, there’s still a portion of Raleigh that’s not being represented and their voice needs to be heard. Again. we need to have leadership for all.
5. Council is currently considering a rezoning case that would remap a significant portion of the city. Should this be approved as is, with changes, or not at all? Why?
With this current rezoning and remapping and the UDO, it is very large and encompassing. It has affected 45,000 properties. I think that it is an extensive government overreach and basically what they’re doing is they’re telling people and the poor neighborhoods that you’re not allowed to be living here because we’ve got big building plans for this area.
And then they pass that off by saying that they’ll build affordable housing, but the affordable housing is going to be in a different ZIP code, and it’s relocating groups of people and that’s never worked out well in American history. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s abusive. I think it’s going to be hurting those local neighborhoods and communities and churches, and I think that it is very abusive.
So would you say that you don’t think that it should be passed at all?
The way that it is? I think that is shouldn’t have been passed. I think that it’s too large and encompassing. Again, you look at other cities the size of Raleigh, typically you’re looking at about 500 properties that are getting rezoned on an annual basis. But that’s being driven by the private market and if there’s a need there where a private developer comes in, and if they want to go ahead and develop something, they work with the local neighborhoods.
Everyone has an opportunity to hear about it, and there’s a process in place for that. I think just doing a blanket rezoning that affects 45,000 properties at once and just sending out two postcards is not communicating with the neighbors and is not representing everyone in Raleigh.
6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by the City Council over the last two years? And why?
That’s a very good question. I think the best decision is the fact that they’re starting to look at the basic infrastructure and sewer lines of certain neighborhoods. I think that’s good. It’s just that it’s lacking. We need more thought into that process. And development shouldn’t be in hindsight. It should be the primary. This is what we’re going to do. It shouldn’t be this is what we have to do now to catch up. So that’s good, that they’re finally looking at that.
The worst decision is, I think, this rezoning and remapping, because I think a lot of people in the community, especially southeast Raleigh, they’re unaware of what this is going to do to them: the fact that their property tax is going to go up; they’re property insurance is going to go up. It means that if they’re on a fixed income, they’re not going to be able to afford it, or even if they can afford it, the city can still go ahead and do an eminent domain and come in and take their property, and I think that the big picture of that, with everything that’s going on in the country today … people are angry and upset, and once we start to talk about taking property and homes away from individuals, I see a lot of angry people getting upset and it’s going to be a negative image for Raleigh in the future.