1. Why are you running for council?
I’m running for city council to be re-elected to my third term on the city council. I’ll focus on transit, affordable housing and economic development; these are still big concerns of mine and I want to make sure that the city of Raleigh moves forward, not only in the downtown area but also in my district on those three issues.
2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city and also what would you propose to do about it?
The biggest challenge is the rapid growth we are having in the city of Raleigh and how we will continue to be proactive on this and not reactive, by making sure that we continue our services to our citizens. We don’t want to see any of our services that are provided by the city of Raleigh go down, we want to see them remain at the top; since we’re number one in living, playing and work, we want to make sure we serve our citizens and continue to work with growth.
Growth also means more housing, more affordable housing, more transportation, because all of that plays a part. We need to be ready for it; we’re working with it and we just need to make sure that we continue to be ready for any more. I think we’re averaging 63 new people a day coming to the city of Raleigh, so we need to be ready for that.
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?
I was one of those that voted against that, because I received phone calls from constituents in my district who are workers in the downtown area in the kitchens and everything else that goes on with it and they say if you cut back on my hours then how will I be able to pay my bills? That was the reason; we don’t need someone to lose their job or their money or see their salary go down and they’re not able to pay their bills, and that’s one reason I voted against that. Even though we’re in the 90-day period, we’ll revisit it, I think what we can do, and it’s already started, we should be trying to bring business people to the table, let us listen to them, see if we can come up with a solution to the problem of what is going on downtown so we can let our neighbors with the noise issues know that we can come up with a solution for everyone, including those neighbors that live downtown. There’s some bad things going on out there with the revelers, what they’re doing, I think you’ve seen the businesses have kind of worked with their patrons and things but then again all the people downtown are not in restaurants, you have a night life downtown and people live down there, and they’re doing their thing; we have to make sure if businesses are trying to work with the city to make sure neighbors are heard in their complaints about noise that we do it for all people that are downtown.
4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of top ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s the clean environment, the open space and job opportunities; we’ve got businesses and corporations that are moving here and so that plays a big part with it, and even with what we’re doing, people realize there’s some good amenities for citizens living in the city of Raleigh and I tell you what, with the land more people are finding out they want more space, they love open space, they love clean water and different things that go on with it. They believe in walkability and different things, I think the greenways and trails play a big part in healthy living, and we’re promoting that. Some of those things they’re at make them want to move here. Other cities, you’re crowded, you’re sitting on top of each other, well, you do have space you can roam in the city of Raleigh and still have a good time.
I cannot leave out the school system; our school system is one of the best, don’t forget we’re in a location with the Triangle area with all our universities, and we have five or six of them right here in the city of Raleigh, that’s a big plus.
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?
Well first of all, don’t forget I’m the one that brought it back to the city council after listening to some of the constituents and some of their concerns and said, hold it, we don’t need to be moving fast on this remapping and rezoning, let us get all of the questions in, let’s make that we answer to all citizens’ concerns before we even try to discuss it anymore right now that is what we’re doing, staff is doing a good job along with the city to make sure we reach out to everyone.
The first public hearing had over 500 people, the second one over 250. Then I made a recommendation after going into some neighborhoods that we have a southeast Raleigh planning department presentation for their concerns about whether taxes will be going up or will they be losing heir property or who will be moving in next door, will it be NX or DX.
We thought if we pare it down to a location and we can listen to it by location this gives us an idea how we can move with it, right now it is on hold, I even brought up three items in our workshop last week for the next work session I will have my answers to them. So long as I’ve got questions, my part is that yes, we should hold up on this. If it has to go back to the drawing board, let it go back to the drawing board. Is there a rush on it? There’s no rush on it on my part, and I think City Council are listening to that, and as long as I’m on that city council I will make sure that I continue to make sure that we don’t rush into this, we don’t move on it until we make sure we have it right.
6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by the City Council over the last two years? And why?
One of the best decisions was the acquiring of Dorothea Dix for the city of Raleigh.
One of the worst was what we just talked about, I thought we should’ve done a better job of educating the public first on our remapping and rezoning before bringing out a document to them to hear. What I’m saying is that if we would have informed our citizens and educated our citizens on this document before presenting it as a whole from the city of Raleigh, I think that people in the city of Raleigh would be more prepared for questions, would know what certain terms stand for in the UDO and different things. This would’ve helped us, we learned from that, I think.
We’re finding out now before you do a finished product and present it to the citizens of Raleigh, you get their input and then present the product to the citizens, we’ve learned from that, I think that’s the way we’ll be going in the future.