1. Why are you running for city council?
I’m running for city council because after being here for 12, nearly 13 years and working in this community, I met my wife here, we had our son here, I fell in love with this city and I want it to be a great city for my family and for everyone’s family, and through meeting so many people over these last 10 years and educating their children and being brought into their families I feel a real connection, not only to the city itself but to the people.
I want to be able to go out and make sure that people’s ideas and concerns are being heard and responded to. A lot of times people feel like their leaders and officials aren’t as responsive as they’d like them to e, so I think that’s something we can really work on.
All the things we hold most dear here and the things we want to do and see happen here in Raleigh can only be accomplished when we work together, so this is why I decided to get out there and start working for it.
2. What is the biggest challenge currently facing the city, and what would you propose to do about it?
The biggest challenge facing the city, and I think I touched on that a little bit, I think community engagement is so important, so that’s what i really believe, community engagement is our first step to solving our problems here, I think a lot of times people are missing the issue or not quite as educated about the subject as they should be and that I think causes a lot of pushback on issues that you may actually be interested in.
So I think if we focused more as a local government and as officials, if we focus more on going out and selling these programs and initiatives and making sure people are educated about the intentions it would be more palatable and people would be more apt to accept what w’re going to do. We need to make sure they have a seat at the table and are able to express themselves so that it’s a more inclusive process, I think that is one of our largest challenges; going through the city and the district every day and, people are syaing, I’m reaching out to my councilor and not hearing anything back, I’ve been trying for weeks, and I haven’t heard from him, I’ve been trying for months and I haven’t heard from him, I’ve emailed, I’ve called, you know, and that kind of sours people on the process I think.
So I really believe community engagement is one of our largest issues, and I know people like to say that it’s this thing or that thing; it touches everything, it touches economic development, it touches growth, it touches all of the things that we are trying to work on here.
If we can answer that question of community engagement and pulling people together and making sure that we all understand and know where we are and where we hope to go and give people a chance to weigh in on that, I think we’d be in a much better place.
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?
On that subject, I live outside of downtown so I really don’t want to step on too many people’s toes here, I have to say personally about that, there should’ve been a moment where the hospitality industry businesses down there should’ve engaged with residents if it seemed like some kind of issue was going on.
I’ve seen so many different organizations that are dedicated to downtown living and downtown industry, and that would’ve seemed like the the best way going forward was for everybody to get together and talk about it, because the moment that you petition your local government then you kind of have to deal with whatever their response.
I don’t know; I can’t say whether it was the right move, I come downtown but I don’t frequent it as much as I would like to, especially lately, so I don’t want to weigh in on something that someone else holds more dear than I do, I think that it could have been handled among residents and business owners if they felt that strongly before they decided to hand it over.
It’s council’s and governing bodies’ purview to solve issues brought before them; they have to solve it the best way they can for the majority of people with public safety in mind. I can’t comment but to say, I would’ve given it a little more thought and I would’ve urged the two groups to get together first and see what solutions they could come up with that they both agreed on. In negotiations, it’s not about everybody getting what they wanted, it’s about getting what’s best for the whole.
4. Raleigh has ended up on a lot of Top Ten lists in recent years. Why do you think that is?
I think Raleigh is great, such a great city, it’s why I chose to stay here it’s why so many other people choose to stay here. They move here and people see Raleigh as a place you can not only do well professionally, but you can also raise a family, it’s a great, safe, beautiful city with lush green environments. As someone from Atlanta, you don’t typically see, especially in a downtown area, so many trees and open spaces. People love this atmosphere, I’m always proud to hear that. I still have family that asks me all the time, when are you coming back home, and so when those Top 10 lists come out, I’m always proud to point them out.
And to piggyback on that, I’ve met so many people that aren’t feeling those accolades happening, and until they do, we can only look at and admire those Top 10 lists, but we can’t own them until the majority of residents feel the reasons behind it.
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 or why not?
Back to the drawing board is kind of a hard sell; I think hearing that there were different commissions and boards and organizations that worked on this for years, I think there’s something to that, I think there are some studies that suggest they know what they’re talking about. Like I was saying earlier, you have to go out and educate our communities about what’s happening, what’s going to be happening in the streets. They don’t deserve to be getting something in the mail saying 30 percent of the city’s going to be remapped, and oh yeah, that’s going to affect you. And bulldozers start showing up and signs about a new store popping up right in your neighborhood start showing up; what i said before about Raleigh is the fact that we have so many great communities and industries right beside each other and they work so well together, but you don’t want your traditional neighborhood to turn into something you weren’t prepared to see.
That uncertainty, I think, is what is driving this debate. I wouldn’t say back to the drawing board, I would say let’s have a good look at it, if we get to a place where the majority are still saying, I’m not sure about this, then we know that there’s some tweaking that needs to get done. I think we need to make sure everybody is engaged, if that had happened from the beginning…
I’m from Atlanta, and Atlanta was a place that also exploded; 10-15-20 years back, we weren’t prepared, Atlanta saw growth happen and after it happened they had to retrofit the city, and we are at position in Raleigh now where we can get in front of that and we have to do that in a smart way where we can get everybody to rally around it and understand and be proud of what it is and embrace it and invite new people in and new industry in, but they won’t be happy if they don’t feel like a part of it or if it’s being rammed down their throats.
6. What is the best and what is the worst decision made by city council over the past two years, and why?
For best, that’s pretty easy for me, it’s just a personal thing because I think I’ve mentioned parks and open space, you know because when you grow up in a semi-concrete jungle like Atlanta, just seeing parks in the neighborhood is fantastic, so the acquisition of Dix Park to me is fantastic, I see this as a huge destination for Raleigh that would bring in some new industry and could have some opportunities for public and private partnerships. I think it houses everything we need and shines a huge light on our city. It could make us more world-class in perspective to a lot of other big cities around the nation.
The worst…that is difficult. I don’t know if there is one just, oh my goodness awful terrible decision, because governing is tough, I don’t want to have to be in a position to answer that same question…I have a lot of respect for our councilors, governing is tough, especially when you’re doing it for a city that’s experiencing the kind of growth we are. Maybe the worst decision is not going out and selling our initiatives and selling our programs and selling our ideas and giving everybody a seat at the table so they would know what’s going on, and I think that’s probably one of the worst decisions they’ve made.
It’s not a policy decision, it’s a decision of how you engage with your community, how you get people to understand because what I’m telling you, what I’m hearing in my district, what I’m hearing throughout the city is, nobody is listening to us, they’re just telling us what’s happening, what’s about to happen, but nobody’s talking to us, nobody’s showing up when I go to these meetings to learn more about an issue, and so I think that tis probably the biggest issue here.
Like I said in my first question, that’s why I’m here, to remedy that situation, and I think I’ve proven that i’m someone who will show up for you, I’m someone when you call I’ll be there. I love this city and I”m going to do everything I can for it, I’m going to work for my family and I’m going to work for their family and I’m going to work for yours too, that’s why I’m here.