Lee Sartain

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Ricky Lee Sartain
At-large contender
Age: 28
Address: 3010 Walnut Creek Parkway
Hometown: I was born in Tennessee, but I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was eight. I grew up around Lake Norman, north of Charlotte, so that is where I consider home.

How long Have you lived in Raleigh?

Ten years

What brought you to Raleigh?

School. I started at Campbell and then finished up at NC State.

In two to three sentences, please share something that you believe the City of Raleigh does well.

I think that Raleigh has started to make the right steps to growing into a larger city. I know we’re making good infrastructure investments and things like Fayetteville Street and Hillsborough Street. I think that investing in the urban center is important and it’s proven to work in other cities so I think that’s probably the best thing they are doing so far.

In two to three sentences, please share one thing that you believe the City of Raleigh could improve upon or change.

I think they need to couple a little bit better the downtown investments with economic development. We’ve focused a lot so far on restaurants, nightlife, residential downtown, but there’s not been a huge focus on creating new jobs downtown and I think that’s a big missing link that we’re still relying on sort of suburban RTP-like jobs that we really need in the urban core.

In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding public transit in the City of Raleigh.

Public transit is just nowhere where we need it to be and I think a lot of that has to do with the interplay between Triangle Transit Authority and the Cat system. There’s not a real clean definition of who provides what and I think there’s not a strong belief in the city’s residents that TTA can provide effective regional transportation to and from Raleigh. It is one of these major issues and it continues to just seem to be ignored. The R-Line is a good improvement but there’s lot of room to improve from there.

In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding growth management in the City of Raleigh.

I think in a lot of ways we’ve not been able, I think it comes down to transit. We haven’t been real strategic on where we choose to grow in the city, although our outward expansion has slowed somewhat because of the lack of availability of water. There’s still not a lot of strategic vision as to growing transit oriented development around potential rail stops, and high usage corridors that already exist in the city, like Glenwood and Hillsborough.

What about the comprehensive plan?

I’ve looked through a lot of the planning documents. It’s interesting to see what makes it in and what doesn’t make it in. I think this comprehensive plan has been the best I’ve seen, you know, if you look at the history of our comprehensive plans. But they also brought in an outside consulting company which always helps when you’re creating those. I’m still am just unsure how that all gets carried out in a lot of cases because there’s no real teeth in it. It’s not encoded for zoning ordinances in a lot of ways. So, while it’s a good strategic plan it doesn’t necessarily have a lot of authority beyond what the council and planning commission choose to give to it.

In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding crime control in the City of Raleigh.

Raleigh is a very lucky city for a city its size that we don’t really have a major urban crime problem, you know, as it compares to even smaller cities like Greensboro in our state, Richmond, and we don’t have the reputation of even the nearby city of Durham. So at least from in a P.R. perspective we’ve been lucky, but I think in a lots of ways there are parts of the city we seem to be overlooking, one; new development because we’ve allowed the city to slide, and that’s even one piece of my campaign as far as there are areas of the city that are declining slowly that used to middle class suburban neighborhoods and now property values have stagnated. They’re not climbing, they may not be falling rapidly but they are still slowly declining.

You mention new development, where?

I think that new development comes in two areas in our city. We have downtown development, this inside the beltline renaissance that continues to grow and thrive I’ve certainly taken advantage of that – I live inside the beltline. But there’s also a lot of growth out around 540, and so there’s really the potential that that area between downtown and the 440 Beltline and the 540 Outer Loop is really a reverse doughnut, is what urban planners would call it. Where you have thriving new suburbs and you have a thriving downtown but in between there’s these areas of decline, so it’s really a reverse doughnut. It’s not necessarily there yet; there are little pockets that you can see around town where you go through neighborhoods that were thriving 25 years ago but are no longer thriving they way they were.

Now, we would like to hear your position on two issues that were not previously mentioned, but that you think are important to the voters in the City of Raleigh. You tell us the issue and then give us two to three sentences about your position on the issue.

The issue that has gotten the most attention from my campaign so far is economic development and job growth in the city itself. One, my plan is really built around existing tax credits that are out there and existing zoning ordinances that the Department of Commerce have built. I think in light of this year’s economic decline and then the availability of jobs, people want someone that has a vision for what the city needs to do about job growth to make sure that in the 21st century we continue to thrive they way we have in the last 50 years because of RTP. And that’s really the way I compare it is that RTP and things like that, those suburban campuses that are not necessarily in the city, have provided a lot of growth for us, but even RTP, even before 2009 had not had its employment numbers climb back to 2001 levels before the dot-com bust, so there’s a question in my mind how the RTP and the surrounding campuses, can it support new young start-up companies? Is it where new entrepreneurs want to be in the city? And I think the answer to that is, in a lot of ways is “no”, but our downtown can and I think we’re ripe for redevelopment downtown and we’re ripe for job growth

It’s a small issue in my campaign but I think it’s a longer, systemic issue and it seems to be coming up quite a bit lately, is the issue of water and – it ties to growth in that way- in that water and waste management. One, Falls Lake is not a big enough drinking supply for the city as it is now. Two, our ability to create new reservoirs is limited. It’s not as if we can just dam the Neuse River again and create another drinking water supply. So conservation and tying that to effective growth practices is important. And then protecting the water shed that we already have; making sure that it is well managed. And Mayor Meeker talked about that, I think yesterday, trying to get temporary rules that helped clean up Jordan Lake a few years ago while they’re still doing the studies on Falls Lake pollution.

What would you say is your guilty pleasure?

I think one that happens a lot – especially when I’m traveling across the state – is to stop in at a convenient store – and it the most disgusting combination on earth, but it’s to have a Diet Coke , Vienna sausages and one of those pecan pies. It’s like a heart attack in a can, but it’s still great. Even if you really kind of feel sick after you do it.

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