Thomas Garett Crowder
District D incumbent
Address: 1409 Ashburton Road
How long Have you lived in Raleigh?
What brought you to Raleigh?
I was born here.
In two to three sentences, please share something that you believe the City of Raleigh does well.
I think Raleigh does a pretty good of trying to provide empowering to its citizens through the CACs (Citizen Advisory Councils). I think that starting back from the 70s, Raleigh actually had a form of government that was more business-oriented and it changed to the district system and part of that change included the creation of the citizen advisory councils and I think that trying to have that citizen participation is one of the things that Raleigh does well, but of course I think we can improve on it as well.
In two to three sentences, please share one thing that you believe the City of Raleigh could improve upon or change.
One of the things we need to work on – and this gets back to citizen participation – how citizens can participate better in the development process. I think having our meetings during the day is very inconvenient for most working folks. In fact, that’s something that changed over the years. They used to have our meetings in the evenings and there are other municipalities that do that, so I think, by having meetings in the evenings we can get better participation both at the council level and in the development process, as well.
In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding public transit in the City of Raleigh.
I think this is an issue of concern as we’re continuing to grow and we’re expected to double in size over the next 20 years. Transportation is going to be a major concern and the efforts that this current council is making to not only have mass transit but increased bus service is going to be critical to our success in the future.
In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding growth management in the City of Raleigh.
We’re in the process of looking at our comprehensive plan and this is very critical component in growth management. What this document ends up looking like is going to determine the future over the next 30 years, so I think it is extremely critical that we look at this document and make sure that – how can I articulate this – we need to make sure that we use the green print, which is one of the components of that plan and make sure it’s the foundation of the comprehensive plan. We need to make sure we focus development around the transit station to make sure that they’re successful and we’re also going to have to look at our water capacity – or how much can we grow. Right now, even with the addition of the little river reservoir we are expected to run out of water by 2030. So we’re going to have to, how are we going to manage, what are we going to look at – the type of construction? Are we going to change our current water enterprise fund in a way that does not punish people who conserve? Are we going to put into place in building requirements that alleviate the use of potable water for irrigation and heating and cooling and potentially even flushing toilets? We’re going to have to get very creative as we manage growth in the future.
In two to three sentences, please share your position regarding crime control in the City of Raleigh.
I’m a big proponent of maintaining a high quality of life. I think the one thing that we need to look at is we need to not just warehouse all our low income citizens in south Raleigh. We need to look at an inclusionary zoning policy for this city, and the county as well, and provide the opportunities to break cycles. When you grow up in an environment when all you see is crime, then that’s all you know, so we need to provide opportunities for mixed income housing through our entire city. That way we also make sure we have job opportunities within walking distance of homes, we have the opportunity to provide economic development in some our lower wealth communities. And we need to look at ways to incentivize that. I think it can be done with impact fees and a lot of other tools.
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.
Our water resources. We just went through a recent drought and I think the citizens are extremely concerned about water rates continuing to rise, our tax rates continuing to rise, but when it comes to water resources, we’re going to have to come up with a new model there. I think one of the major concerns I’ve heard is we’ve asked our citizens to conserve – and that’s something we’re going to have to do long term – but them turn around and penalize them with higher rates. Now council just provided a tiered rate system which will help some but we need to look at raising our capacity fees. In other words, for new development coming in that’s going to put a strain on the system, they need to help pay for the water capacity needs and not just put that burden on the citizens. And I think that’s going to include looking at how we can use cisterns, gray water systems, and other devises that are built into the construction to keep our rates low and also conserve water for the long term – sustainability.
We need to continue – as with growth – I think one of the major concerns is how we can accommodate growth and protect our existing neighborhoods. How do we protect our quality of life throughout our city and that’s an issue I hear all the time. When you are a city councilor you deal with not only the big picture issues, but you also have to deal with potholes and the minutia, so quality of life is extremely important to our citizens. So how do we continue to be the best place to live, work and play in the country? I think with this new comprehensive plan we need to develop a new development code that is associated with that, and how are we going influence design standards, how do we look at transitions to existing neighborhoods while also creating more density and walkable mixed use, mixed income communities.
What would you say is your guilty pleasure?
I do enjoy a good scotch and a cigar.