Occupation: Pharmacist; Owner of MedproRx
How long have you lived in Raleigh?
Why have you decided to run for office?
I’ve been on the city council for four years. I have come to have a great understanding of everything that goes into making this a successful city, and I think that my combination of business experience, government experience, personal experience, being involved in the community, makes me the right person to lead the city forward.
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 think the first is planning for growth. We are in a great place, and I know how much hard work and careful planning went into making us the successful city that we are. We’re going to have a lot of growth to come and it’s really important we continue that planning so that we can accommodate that anticipated growth.
Secondly is jobs. We were voted Forbes’ number one place for doing business. I understand everything that went into bringing us to this place and we need to continue that and enhance it. We need to make sure that businesses know that this is a great place to do business.
Thirdly, quality of life. People are moving here, and they’re all moving here for a reason, because we’re a great place to live. We have to always improve the quality of life and that is what drives everything else. That’s what keeps people coming. That’s what brings businesses here.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
It’s hard to single out a best because collectively we’ve done a lot of really good things. We’ve done a lot in sustainability. Sustainability is not just about the environment, but it’s also economic sustainability. It’s the sustainability of all of these pieces put together. We’ve done a lot of really good things with LEED certification and being on the forefront. We are working with the chamber and they’re developing a sort of cluster development.
I know what the worst was; I just don’t want to say it. The one we took the biggest heat for was the garbage disposal ban. Staff came to us and said we are having all these problems with our sewer systems. It turns out there was no food in it at all — it was just people pouring grease down the drains. We have a very professional staff. We trust them and the information that they give us, but they were just wrong in this one.
What do you think is the most important issue facing the city and how do you plan to address it?
Planning for growth. We’ve been told that we could have up to a million people moving here. I mean, just the impacts on that, the biggest one is probably going to be transportation. If we double in population, we cannot possibly have twice as many cars on the road.
We’re doing the [Unified Development Ordinance], which defines all of the code: the parameters of how different parcels will be, where density will go. How that new code is applied to a new zoning map is going to be critically important. We are now looking at if Wake County chooses to do the referendum for half-cent sales tax, what is going to be the best way to use that money.
And what’s going to be really important is that, as that develops, there are clear development patterns around transit stops that will allow for denser development, that allow people to have options, to be able to live and work and play and not have to get in their car to do what they want to do.
What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
Our police are doing an incredible job, but the world is getting more and more technologically savvy. I don’t want us to be asking our police force to fight 21st century crime with 1960s technology. That’s our primary function, public safety. We need to give them the tools that they need to do the best job they can.
When I came on the council, the last project was already designed and well underway. If I had been involved from the beginning, I might have done it differently, but I think that it’s something we have to address, and we have to move forward.
How do you feel about impact fees?
I think that we have one of the lowest costs. They are new construction paying for the impacts that they have on the existing community. Every time we build out and add another housing development, there’s a cost associated with that. Impact fees are for roads and parks because people moving there are going to be using roads and parks. There are fundamental basics to a city that everybody shares the costs of.
What do you think about public transportation in Raleigh? What are your hopes for public transportation? What are your ideas for public transportation?
I would like to see a rail system that does a combination of serving the communities that we have, but also driving the development for the way we want to be in the future. It’s incredibly important that you be able to connect in different ways. It’s interesting because we are a region, really, as opposed to a city, and we have developed quickly. We are now trying to figure out how we can fit a rail system into our grown pattern, as opposed to planning a rail system and then developing the growth pattern around it. My frustration right now is that with the bus service. So many of them all come back [downtown], and I tend to think of things developing as a spiderweb. You not only have spokes, but you got to be able to have the rings too.
If we look at having a light rail system that provides those areas around transit stops for denser development, what you really get is a much higher tax base with a low cost of services.
How do you think the city of Raleigh should plan to meet its future water needs?
The primary thing that we are doing right now is to make sure that we protect our watershed. A lot of the water issues come from the cost of cleaning the water that comes out of Falls Lake. Last year, I put together a group called WUTAC, Water Utility Transition Advisory Council, and it’s people with experience in utilities. We sell water, and that’s why people get so frustrated when, you know, they conserve and then the prices go up. We’re still the cheapest water anywhere.
We were way underpricing water for what it costs to maintain all that structure. That doesn’t feel like a sustainable model, continuing to run an entire utility just based on selling water.
The city has been given a million dollars to use for anything that is wants. Where do you think the money should go?
Small business is really the backbone of the American economy. Small business is what’s going to bring us out of recession. I would do something with that and I would also combine it with a jobs training program.