1. Why are you running for city council?
I’m running for city council because I want to help protect the neighborhoods that are currently experiencing a lot of teardowns. I don’t believe that our new Unified Development Ordinance zoning code has brought with it the protections that we thought we were going to get, and that we were promised back in the days of Mitchell Silver when he was head of the planning department.
That’s my primary reason for getting into the race. But as I have begun to talk to people, there are many other issues that I want to address, traffic and transit being one of them. I have a background in logistics and I teach at Wake Tech in the Global Logistics Program and so I’d love the opportunity to get involved in trying to do something about traffic and transit in the city. And I’m concerned about the tax situation. We’ve all just experienced a property tax rise and I want to make sure I understand what’s happening with that money; not see it wasted, and make sure we are getting a good quality of life and a good infrastructure with the money that is now going into the city. Those would be my big three.
2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city, and what would you propose to do about it?
Oh, there are so many. Growth. Growth is the biggest challenge. And growth has a lot to do with housing and housing stock and traffic and transit. So I would say the amount of growth we’re experiencing and the repercussions of that.
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?
I know that they are doing this three-month experiment of closing at one, and I know that has upset a lot of businesses down there. I am not aware of how they came to that decision. I know there was some negotiation but it seems to me that there needs to be a coalition of residents that live down there and a coalition of businesses down there that should work together through some sort of arbiter, and try to not address this regulation without that work happening between those sets of people. I think they will come to the right solution together versus the city trying to impose it from the outside.
Once those groups of people can work together on a set of regulations, it could be beneficial to both. I think that would be the best way to approach it. I heard today that there was a yearlong study on this but I don’t know if that study included facilitating some workshops between the two sets of people. I would see having the city try to facilitate those kinds of meetings so that people could come out of it with better solutions for both sets of people.
4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of Top Ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?
Well I think its because it’s a growing, booming city. There are lots of tech jobs here; there is lots of opportunity to bring small business in, so people are coming into the city to begin new businesses for themselves. I think there is a lot of great art and a collaborative kind of outlook on life here. I think a lot of children of the tech people who came here are opening businesses too. I just see the young folks coming into the city, and the young folks who are children of the people who came to the city a generation ago, starting to build out these interesting small businesses, and it seems to be accelerating interest in the area. And of course we have all the big tech companies nearby too. I just think there is a lot of energy generated here by what started with the research triangle and has moved into the opportunity to do small business in the city. There are a lot of creative people, and the city draws people who are interested in the aesthetics and art of all kinds. I can see how people would be continuing to come here to do music and to do art and to start creative small businesses.
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 to the drawing board). Why or why not?
It needs changes and I think we need to have some time to work though the edge cases that have arisen and I would like to make sure that the citizens that are affected by it understand it, and understand what they are getting from it, and what it might mean to their properties. I am very concerned about their property rights when they are experiencing something happening right next to them.
6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by city council over the past two years, and why?
The best one was getting the Dix property. I am just so excited about having the Dix property and looking forward to us shaping that into something. It is big enough to be a world class park and I could see us having something on the order of the National Mall in D.C. or something similar to Central Park in New York where you have a mix of activities like walking, biking, skating and organized playing fields and places to meet. I just think that it’s an exciting thing that the city council has helped make happen.
As far as the worst thing, I think it would be trying to push this Unified Development Ordinance through too fast, and not helping people understand what it was that was coming at them. I know the city has made attempts to reach out but I think there were probably better ways to utilize the CAC’s and perhaps have meetings more local to properties that were affected instead of having the meetings downtown in the local city council chambers mostly during the day. It’s hard for the average citizen to become involved or to become educated about what’s going on. I think a more dispersed methodology of getting the information out was sorely needed.