John Odom — District B

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Councilman John Odom

Councilman John Odom

1. Why are you running for city council?

Well I’ve been on the council 13 of the last 22 years and Raleigh has grown and I think it’s done well. I think we’re headed in the right direction. I think a lot of things are great, there are always things that need to be changed and redone maybe but helping people is something I like to do and I’ve been able to do that and that’s why. And some neighborhood groups and some business groups all have asked me to run again so I will do it again.

2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city, and what would you propose to do about it?

The biggest thing facing us is to make sure that we continue to grow at the right rate. Everybody has their own mindset of what the right rate is. The biggest challenge is letting some of the communities do what they need to do to make this a world class city that it’s close to being already. The UDO that we’re all fussing about and arguing about, the reality is that it’s going to help us go into the new century and create jobs for many people and we need to keep going in that direction.

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’m the one that set the balance, we had two sides, one that wanted to close it down at twelve and one that wanted to keep it at two and I’m the one that made the compromise of 1 a.m. on the weekends. But the people that wanted to have the nightclubs wanted to keep it open longer than that so they’re not happy with me but the business community that’s downtown, the nightclubs, they need to solve this problem. They can do that without the city council. Here’s the deal, they’re sidewalks. And people need to be able to walk on the sidewalks. I’m the one that started the fight to allow the people to be able to use the sidewalks, to put seating out there. But it has to have an open path where people can walk down the sidewalks and then it has to be maintained and cleaned. If those two things will happen the rest of it will absorb itself and move on. Maybe we can stay open until 2 a.m. but I’m not committing to that until I see evidence that things have changed.

The reality is, what happened here was, like I said I fought for sidewalk dining and then we got it in place. But I don’t think any of us ever thought about, number one we didn’t have much business down there at all and we didn’t think about the timing of it or when it would close down. So we just got absorbed into the state’s ruling, that’s a state regulation at 2 a.m. We didn’t think about it one way or the other. However, when you can’t walk down the sidewalks, and then you make too much noise and there’s people urinating and doing things on the side of the street they’re not supposed to that creates a problem. So, I think we’ll work this out in the end. They might not be as happy as they want to be but it is the city sidewalk it’s not the business’ sidewalk. We’re allowing them to use it and they keep using the word patio. If they’ve got a patio they can use a patio all they want to, there’s no restriction on that.

4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of Top Ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?

Jobs, by and large. And we have tried to keep up with that growth part by having nightclubs downtown, by having shopping centers, business districts, scattered all over the City of Raleigh. And the younger generation finding the new jobs. Theses are new type jobs that we hadn’t had in the past. And it’s just a great place, we’ve protected our trees, we have an ordinance about our trees and we fight about that from time to time. But by and large it’s a great place, if you want to be in the suburbs you can if you want to be in the urban you can. We have a great mixture of places to live. And our parks system is number one in the country as far as I’m concerned.

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?

The UDO has already been passed, this is the remapping that’s taking place after that. We have already made two changes in the UDO that we passed just two months ago, so it’s something that we will constantly look at. The comprehensive plan, the zoning cases, all these things. We pass these overall big pictures and then as we go down the line and different things pop up we change it. I think a lot of people were shocked. I think most people, once they sit down and realize what’s going to happen on their piece of property, they’re very comfortable with it. Then you have other people that want to tell other people about their property and that’s where some of this row comes in. I’m not too worried about the taxes of people going up because they got a zoning from an R-4 or an RX to an R-10 because as long as they don’t change what they’re doing on that piece of property, the property value will remain the same.

I am for sitting down with every individual that came down and asked us to tell them what the remapping meant and I think we ought to do that in individual pieces if we have to. I just read in the paper this morning that Greg Hatem wanted some of his done, he has 10-15 pieces. So there are some larger pieces we can do at one time. But I think we need to take the time, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re having work sessions every Monday, every other Monday I think it is. And we will go over every single one of those that people came down and said they didn’t like what they saw. And we’ll either explain it to them and they’ll either accept it or we’ll change it to something that might be more attainable to them, if it’s their property. If it’s someone else’s property, then we’ll have a longer conversation about it.

6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by city council over the past two years, and why?

Let me start with the worst. We just did a bond issue, a parks bond and a transportation and road bond. And the transportation and road bond was at 75 million. We had choices of 150 million and 100 million and 75 million, we chose the lower one. We should have put the 150 million dollar bond package out there for the voters to vote on. I think they would have passed that. That would help us catch up some of the road problems we have. What we’re gonna have to do at some point is to come back and put another bond issue on the table, I don’t know how much that would be, to help us catch up with the repaving of these roads. That, notoriously, years ago, was a state function, but it’s been turned over to the cities and so we need to pay attention. So my mistake would be not passing a larger bond for the roads and infrastructure.

I think our new manager and our new system is one of the best things that we’ve done. I think the structure that our new manager has put in place, the police system, assistant city manager, is going to make the ability for Raleigh to get things done smoother, and quicker, and easier. We’ve still got a ways to go but I think that was a good decision that was made by the council.

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