Paul Fitts (R)

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Age: 42
Current occupation: Mortgage Lender with Academy Mortgage

How long have you lived in Raleigh?
About 20 some-odd years. I’ve lived in Wake County over 40 years.

Why have you decided to run for office?
A myriad of reasons. Number one, I’m not happy with Raleigh’s $1.3 billion dollar debt. I think that the city council, led by Mayor Meeker, could have chosen better times to spend money as opposed to just continually spending money until we were $1.3 billion in debt. They could have chosen needs versus wants. And I believe in job creation. I don’t believe our current city council has done enough to spur Raleigh businesses to help them create jobs. I don’t think our current city council has done anything at all to recruit businesses from other areas, and I think that’s something they should look at doing.

What do you think are the three biggest issues the City of Raleigh faces and how would you address those issues?
Number one issue is jobs. What can we do to get job growth back in Raleigh? And number two, I think, again is our $1.3 billion debt. And the number three issue is, you want to maintain a good, solid police or first-responders force no matter what the economic situation is or what the climate is.

What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
I can’t say it as a onedecision thing, but I think the worst decision that they have made was a continual spending, even though the city was in debt. But, the best decision, I’m not going to say it was really a best decision, but I’ll say best intentions. Their intentions of building up Raleigh’s downtown area was in hopes that it would “spur economic development,” but the proof remains to be seen on it so far.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the city and how would you address it?
I go back to jobs. I still say our unemployment is over 8 percent. And we can kind of tie that back into the last question a
little bit. Did you ever see the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner? And you kept hearing that little voice in the background, “If you build it, they will come.” For some reason, I think Mayor Meeker heard that for downtown Raleigh. He’s like, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, I look at it as a little bit differently. I compare our economic environment to, the same way I would compare Duke, State and North Carolina. By far NC State has the best athletic facilities in the area. The difference between the three is that Carolina and Duke actively recruit the best potential players to play on their teams. They actively recruit them on a daily basis. NC State has lacked in those areas for their athletic programs. This analogy means that even though we have a great downtown, what has the Raleigh City Council done to recruit businesses to Raleigh?

What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
I do feel like there should be some sort of public safety center. I believe that every proposal they’ve come up with has been an overspent, Taj Mahal design that’s not needed, nor necessary. We do need a better facility
downtown. It can be, you know, scaled down and made more practical.

Since the city is already in a $1.3 billion deficit currently, I don’t feel the need to spend money to go deeper in the hole
at this time just because we need a public service center. We can make do with other facilities until we actually become a
solvent city.

How do you feel about impact fees?
I personally want to see what the city can do with a better-focused, fiscally conservative council with our current
taxes as opposed to trying to impose any more fees than we have to. I’m hoping in the future with a broadened tax base …
that we can reduce fees of any kind, and really try to make do with the taxes that we can normally generate by revenue purposes.

What are your ideas for public transportation in Raleigh?
I don’t have anything new outside the box. I’ll grant that for right now. The Raleigh CAT bus system currently runs at a $16-million negative every year. And I’ve heard that the infrastructure for light rail would cost anywhere between $800
million and $1.4 billion. I don’t believe that that’s a necessity at this time.

A light rail system will only put us deeper into debt, and will put us deeper in the negative every year as far as how the budget is concerned. So, since it’s not a necessity at the moment, it should be an idea that should be shelved until the city becomes a little bit more solid and then it becomes a little bit more necessary to look at it at that point.

I think the buses could be used a little bit better. My numbers show about a 30 percent ridership on the CAT buses. If there’s an increased ridership on the CAT buses, then obviously, you know, down the road, you could definitely look at
a different transit system at that point, but I think the bus system should be completely sufficient for now.

How do you think the city should plan to meet its future water needs?
It’s not just a City of Raleigh question really because Raleigh really distributes the water throughout Wake County to many other municipalities. There’s nothing out there in our immediate radar that says we have to do something now. But eventually some of these other cities will have to be made a little bit more efficient on their own.

The city has been given a million dollars to do anything that it wishes. How do you think the money should be spent?
I would try my hardest to use the money to promote an event that would become an annual event in Raleigh. It would be something akin to how the Kentucky Derby is run in Louisville every year. People go to Churchill Downs for that entire weekend. I would want to do something that would promote an event that would draw people to the city of Raleigh every year for a good weekend. They can come here, spend money, have a great time.

2 thoughts on “Paul Fitts (R)

  1. Mr. Fitts’ conservative bona fides must be thrown into doubt by his response to the last question. A million dollars on a one-time event that he hopes would become an annual one? That smacks of exactly the kind of waste he purports to be against. Does he really want us to believe he’s for dropping $1m on a local Kentucky Derby as opposed to things like water, transit and public safety? But forget about that stuff–what about paying down the debt?

  2. Liar!!!!!!! While CAT’s operating budget is about $16 million per-year, the city contributes under $10 million. The rest is mostly from bus fares, plus some state funding, and miscellaneous sources such as advertising revenue. Lastly, CAT’s ridership has been steadily increasing at a large rate, while the city’s contribution have been decreasing. This comes at a time when transit systems across the country have faced decreasing ridership due to high unemployment.

    Also, private economic development downtown has already proven to outweigh the public investment many times over: RBC tower, Marriott tower, and the NHL All Star game just to name a few.

    And why does Fitts keep talking about the debt, Raleigh has a very healthy budget. He’s just trying to seize some of the National Debt outrage for his political benefit. Raleigh’s debt shouldn’t be allowed to grow to large, but much the same way as a homeowner takes out a mortgage, some debt is perfectly fine as it allows the city to make large investments that facilitate growth.