District 1 Incumbent- Republican Joe Bryan is a financial adviser. He served as Knightdale’s mayor from 1995-2002.
Was there a particular moment you realized you wanted to serve as a politician or was it more gradual?
Bryan: I look at it as public service, rather than politics. It started out in the days of clubs in high school and then it was serving in the Navy. It just kind of evolved into being on a planning board in Knightdale in ’85 and then finally running for office- I think there were about 800 people living in Knightdale when I ran. I saw it as public service and being right there with my neighbors and trying to make things better.
What do you think you can do as a county commissioner to bring the most jobs to Wake County?
Bryan: A distinct difference between the Republicans and the Democrats on this issue is that we believe the private sector creates jobs, not the government. What government can do is make sure that there is certainty out there, that the rules and regulations are streamlined, that businesses know what to expect, that we have a low tax burden that we’re placing on the public, that we have invested in the basic core infrastructure that is so important for them to be successful, like good schools, good transportation, an adequate water supply, even our jails. Basically, we’ve got to have the infrastructure in place so that the private sector can create good high paying jobs.
What would you say is the best service we provide in Wake County and which service needs the most work?
Bryan: I don’t know that there is one best service. From what I’ve seen when I’ve been on these inner-city visits with the Raleigh chamber of commerce, we’ve got the total package. We are a safe community. People have police and firefighters to respond to their homes. We also have high-paying jobs and a good education system.
If we have such good schools as you say we do, do you think a major policy change, like the neighborhood schools policy, is a good idea?
Bryan: I would say we have a good school system, but I don’t think anywhere in America has a great school system. We need to look to places like Singapore, Finland, other places that have a great school system. The last election shows that the public wants neighborhood schools. Polling data that I’ve seen and have done says that 80 percent of the public want to have neighborhood schools. I do support a neighborhood schools approach and I would like to add that even with doing that, I’m the only Republican who has been endorsed by the North Carolina Association of Educators.
You’ve said that mental health care reform has been a disaster and that we simply do not have enough beds for people with mental illnesses. Do you think there is anything we can do about fixing our mental health care issues in these tough economic times, or is that issue going to sit on the back burner until Wake County is more prosperous?
Bryan: Let me put things in perspective. If we talk to the sheriff, he could use more money. If we talk to educators, they could use more resources. These are issues that you just have to continue to work on and set your priorities and do the best that you can. It is hard to strike that balance of knowing how much money people will pay in property taxes. I think we are going to have a period of years where we will have to just prioritize and do the best that we can with what we have.