Gale Wilkins (R)

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Age: 55
Occupation:Recent Graduate of Peace College

Why have you decided to run for office?
I’ve worked in the com­munity, probably starting with Sunday school in the 1980s, just working with young people, doing Sun­day school programs. And my husband and I would always do some kind of program, and then ven­tured from that church or depth of particular com­munity to others. And so, because I’ve always worked in the community, I have a strong passion to help individuals and families, especially those people who have needs and are not aware of how they can meet those needs or what resources are available for them to get their needs met. And I seem to have a knack of compiling data or information and with that I always could help people.

What do you think are the three biggest issues facing the city and how would you address those?

We’re all interested in how we can provide jobs and bring jobs and create jobs for our citizens. With that being said, to be able to partner with organizations and to attract them to Ra­leigh. We get all the acco­lades, and with all those ac­colades, we should be able to bring in additional jobs. We’re renowned all over the world for our clinical research, and I think those are some areas that we should pursue. Why don’t we partner with Wake Tech’s small business col­lege, and those people who are being laid off may have entrepreneur desires. And why don’t we partner with them and mentor them and help them create small businesses and with the in­tentions that they’ll hire other people to support job creation?

My other area of inter­est is that in my district,we have the third largest rid­ership of transportation. We would know that New Bern Avenue, Capital Boulevard, all have issues with the CAT bus system. They have 50,000 people who ride it once a month or more, and they’re just not meeting the demands of the citizens. I feel that, even though they are do­ing a tremendous job with the transportation sys­tem, I think efficiency should be something that we should look at first and foremost. The buses travel­ing around, a 40-passenger bus has no one on it, maybe two people. Why don’t we consider bringing in shut­tle buses, 12-16 passenger shuttle buses that we can use during those off-peak periods? and send those 40 passenger buses over in the areas that are much needed— C a p i t a l Boulevard and New Bern Av­enue, and again, Falls of the Neu­se Road, which is the third l a r g e s t ridership?

And then, as we would all know, the last one a few months ago, came out with a report that said we were at our 33-year low of crime reports. And I think that the most important thing is that the City of Raleigh would continue to provide the adequate resources for our police and our fire de­partments, so we can keep those crime levels down.

What do you think is the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
Well, I think the worst is the level of debt that we’re in, by far. I think that the thing that concerns me, as well as many of the other citizens in the community, is that we use bonds that we pay a higher rate for, and neither will the voters get an opportunity to vote for those. Those decisions are made by the city coun­cil. I think they’re called certificate of participation bonds. We’re in, what is it, a billion dollars worth of debt?

The best decision that the Raleigh City Council has made this year was to delay the Lightner Center. Delay is the key word, that they not c anc e l le d it or decid­ed not to implement it because it’s needed, but they de­layed it un­til there’s a consensus and some questions are asked and an­swered in reference to the cost, the taxes.

What do you think is the most important issue facing your district and how would you address it?
Well, my district is like everyone else. The area I would like for us to con­tinue in is to be able to at­tract businesses similar to that of Whole Foods, that hired 250 people when they opened up. Just be­ing able to hire that many people during a sluggish or a stagnant economic recov­ery. It’s vital that we pur­sue small businesses or big businesses like a Whole Foods.

What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
We are in tremendous need of a facility for our police administration and for our police department. And because Raleigh is one of the best places to live, to work and to play, it’s because of the action of our police department and them keeping, along with the sheriff’s department, keeping our crime rates low. And so I think they’re due a facility.

How do you feel about impact fees?
I know a little bit about impact fees, but not enough. I know that what concerns most people about impact fees is that you pay for it twice—you pay for it once whenever you buy and building a home and then again, the fees that are assigned to the developer. I think all of those fees all go back to the homebuilder or the people who purchase the home.

How do you feel about public transportation in Raleigh? What are your ideas for that?
I love the CAT bus sys­tem. I’ve been riding it, and I enjoy riding it. The only thing that concerns me is about the efficiency of it. I do have a concern about the lack of lighting, the dark places that I see many people, the lack of benches and shelters, the covered shelters. There’s not enough of those to ac­commodate and to make our citizens safe and com­fortable as they’re wait­ing for the public trans­portation. My only other concern about the public transportation is making sure that people don’t have to wait an hour during off-peak times. They should run more frequently.

What do you think the city of Raleigh should do to plan for its future water needs?
Other than conserva­tion measures, we’re go­ing to have to find other creative measures in order to provide water supplies for the citizens of Wake County, as well as Raleigh as a whole. I think all of the resource, the land re­source, all of those agen­cies, I know we’re think­ing about it, but other than conservation, there are go­ing to have to be other cre­ative measures we’re going to implement.

The city has been given a million dollars to do anything it wishes. What do you think the money should go to?
I think we should take that million dollars and invest it in some kind of programs for our teenag­ers and our early college students. It’s imperative that many of these young people are graduating from college or they’re in college and because of the reces­sion that we’re in, many of them — they’re perplexed about the future and where they’re going to go and the direction — we should take that million dollars and invest it in something that will bring hope and excitement back in our young generation of peo­ple, whether it’s some kind of job programs or creative internships.

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