1. Why are you running for city council?
I’m running to give back to the city that’s given me so much. I think that even though Raleigh is one of the best places in America to live, work, and find a job we’ve got to keep innovating if we want it to stay that way. I’ve traveled to a lot of other cities, I’m in Denver right now, that didn’t manage their growth wisely, and their quality of life is suffering as a result of that. I want to support Raleigh’s growth in a more sustainable direction so we don’t make the same mistakes other cities did and end up gridlocked with a lot of traffic and sprawl.
2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city, and what would you propose to do about it?
The biggest challenge we are facing is how to manage our explosive growth. People love living here and move here at a rate of 63 people per day. All those people need to live somewhere, and they need to move around the city somehow. If we don’t have a plan to counter that growth we’re going to lose the quality of life, what the current residents love about Raleigh. My plan for managing growth is to encourage new development and to concentrate in dense urban areas where shops, restaurants, and places to work are just a few steps away from where they live. And then for longer trips we need to have more efficient and effective transportation options. I’ve guided Raleigh in planning already toward smart growth and better transportation in my three terms on council and I plan to continue to do so in my fourth.
3. A text change ordinance was recently passed restricting sidewalk dining, was this the right move? Why or why not? What kind of balance should be struck between revelers & residents?
Well we definitely don’t want Fayetteville Street to look like Bourbon Street, Beale Street, or Broadway. But we also don’t wait it look like Main Street, Mayberry, so the balance is somewhere in between. Our goal should be having the kind of thriving entertainment options downtown that people want in the city but also be a comfortable place to live. Residents want to live close to amenities and businesses want to be accessible to customers. So a successful downtown is one with stable residents who support those successful businesses and vice versa. I voted against the sidewalk dining ordinance because I felt like it had some provisions in it I didn’t agree with and I felt like it was done in a way that the business owners didn’t feel like they were being heard.
4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of Top Ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?
I think a lot of it is that we’ve got great schools and great educational facilities. We have a highly educated workforce and that workforce then attracts employers and the employers move here to capture that talent. The businesses then pump money into our economy, which strengthens our education system, so it’s a virtuous cycle there. And so far we’ve been able to accommodate all the new residents while still keeping our quality of life high. If we want to stay on all the top ten lists we have to be smart about how we grow.
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 (back tot he drawing board). Why or why not?
Our rezoning has been in the works for years. I’ve been participating in the efforts toward its fruition since I was on the planning commission when I started in 2006. It has gotten a lot of input from residents. It is a plan that manages our growth and does so wisely. I think there are always going to be things that we can tweak and make the UDO better, and we have a plan to continually adapt the UDO to make sure it’s the absolute best. While there is no perfect plan, I think the UDO is a far better plan than what we have now and it should be implemented.
6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by city council over the past two years, and why?
One thing we missed on in my opinion was our inability to move forward with the BikeShare program. I voted for it because I know that globally competitive cities in the future will offer innovative transportation options like BikeShare. And we have to look to those innovations as we move forward. The best thing is probably the acquisition of the Dix property. I’m incredibly excited, as all our community should be, about what that will mean for my children and for my children’s children.