Occupation: Management at a Commercial Real Estate Firm
How long have you lived in Raleigh?
Thirty-two years. Grew up in Rockingham County, went to Chapel Hill for college, then went to Research Triangle Park for work and decided to live in Raleigh.
Why have you decided to run for office?
This is the most unique time for the City of Raleigh. And as I travel for my work, and I visit with people, and I look at cities all across the United States, we are in the most enviable place of any city. So here’s the opportunity that we should be able to capture the very best things we want for our city. The competitive landscape has probably never been stronger, and that requires, I think, a very specific type of leadership. I had just a terrific group of people encouraging me to run. So, I spent about a month, very prayerfully, with my family and some other key people trying to decide, you know, is this the right thing for me to do? And someone asked me this question: “If you could imagine that it’s the end of the filing period, and you did not file to run, would you regret it?” And, I knew at that moment, my answer was yes, I would regret it. So, that’s when I made that decision.
What are the three biggest issues you think the City of Raleigh faces? In 30 seconds or less, how would you address those issues?
I have three things that are really my focus. One: jobs and the local economy, and I believe the answer to that, quite simply, is economic development. That’s a small two words to cover a plethora of things. But, I have a plan that works around economic development.
I think the second is the city needs to be more business friendly, which is one of the reasons that I’m running. It’s time for the business community to step up for leadership. We’re the ones that create the jobs. We need to stop relying on the government to create them. We need to create them, and business needs to lead that process, and the city needs to be our partner.
The third is that there’s never been a greater time that calls for fiscal responsibility. We cannot afford all the things we want. We have a lot to be thankful for, but we can’t have it all now, and that requires discipline, and it requires setting priorities, and it requires being clear.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
Best: The issue around the downtown investment. A lot of people across the city feel that too much of the city’s resources
have gone into downtown. I believe that to be a worldclass city, to attract jobs, to really create a stable business environment, we have to have a vibrant downtown. Every time anyone comes to look at the region or Wake County, they go to downtown Raleigh. We need to be able to show people who we are from a strong business perspective. The city has spent a lot of money and created a lot of long-term obligations, but I think that they were the right investments, and I think we’re beginning to see the private sector really leverage those.
Worst: One of the worst decisions was that whole garbage disposal issue. That was beyond embarrassing that our city council would be in the weeds at that level. At times, the government is way too far into people’s personal lives.
What do you think are the most important issues that the city faces and how do you plan to address it?
Balancing the short-term and the long-term priorities. It’s the balance between what are the priorities for the city, where should we be investing our money, and yet at the same time, how can we look at our citizens and say this was a prudent decision, and it meets an economic model that mirrors the fact that people are being conservative and budget-conscious at home.
What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
I think that we should build the Lightner Center. I think we have to scale it at a way that is appropriate to the time in which we’re living and operating. We need to live in today’s reality because the only other option then, in my mind, is then that you wait, and you put it off, and I don’t think we have time to do that.
How do you feel about impact fees?
Fees assessed by any government are a necessary part of supporting the services provided to the citizens.
I think the discussion around impact fees probably often gets to be sort of a noise to mask how people really feel about different types of development. It’s really not about how much the fees are because the city should be able to justify what it’s charging in fees, not just because it can charge them, but because they are reasonable and prudent and justifiable relative to what the city deserves or should expect.
What are your ideas for public transportation in Raleigh?
I think we have a good public transportation system. We can improve it. It takes all of the transit methods that we have here. It creates private development and private investment, which goes back to the one thing we need the most.
Ultimately, for us to really be a world-class city, we need to provide some levels of public transportation, but I think what we really ought to focus on today is what can we afford today, what can we preserve as an opportunity for the future, then how do we really stay focused on creating that private sector investment.
How do you think the city of Raleigh should plan to meet its future water needs?
I think the city of Raleigh is in an excellent position relative to its water needs. We know we’re on the top of the list for growth in the next eight to 10 years. We need to provide for that. I believe that providing for the water capacity that we need in the future and that the investments that we’re making in the Little River and other opportunities are right and appropriate.
I’m not sure that I think there’s a call for panic today about our water quantity or quality. But it’s a topic that I’m researching.
The city has been given a million dollars to use it on anything it wishes. How do you think the money should be spent?
Economic development, in some form or fashion, because of the return that you could expect. And economic development is an easy word to represent a lot of different things. That could be an infrastructure investment. It could be a marketing and promotion, laser-focused target plan to go after jobs. If we could invest that million dollars in a way that creates the opportunity for private industry or public/private partnership — then what you do is you take that million dollars and you leverage it into 10, or you leverage it into a hundred million dollars.