Racquel Williams (I)

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Age: 36
Occupation: Author and Motivational Speaker

How long have you lived in Raleigh?
Since 2007.

Why have you decided to run for office?
I feel like I’m called to this area called govern­ment. I’ve been studying for the last 13 years. I al­ways wanted to run for office. I want to do, you know, Congress and may­or. And I thought, you know what? Why not start in your city where you live? We have some major issues in my city, in my district and I’ve always had this very strong voice for the underrepresented.

What do you think are the three biggest is­sues facing the city, and in 30 seconds or less, how would you address those?
The three biggest issues, definitely, are economic development, crime and public safety, and the third issue, managing growth for the city. Making sure we have the light right, the speed rail and the bus lines, and just making sure that in the city, we’re able to get to and from other places in a quick fashion. That’s big to me. And I think the other two feed into other stuff, so if you take care of economics, you’ll take care of gangs and crime and homelessness.

What do you think are the best and worst de­cisions the current city council has made?
One of the best decisions they could have made was to fund the Raleigh Busi­ness and Technology Cen­ter, which I am a recipient of—the Pacesetters pro­gram, and it really is a small business hub. That mission is to grow small businesses. It’s a nine-month course free; I didn’t pay anything. And I learned a lot.

I’m really not happy with the way the public hears about these studies, like the Capital Boulevard studies and New Bern cor­ridor study, the UDO. I find things out with an e-mail, and I’m like “Oh my god, that’s like now,” and I’m running off and chang­ing everything in my plan. And I really just wish that more people were able to weigh in, and I just wish that they would find an­other way to disseminate that kind of information longer.

What do you think is the most important issue facing your district and how would you address it?
The most important is­sue is economic develop­ment. It’s education and economics, and how they go hand-in-hand. So, how I plan to address it is basical­ly, I know that you need a skilled labor force in order to attract businesses. My goal is to attract educa­tional programs. I’m sure Wake Tech has a program for it, or State. I have a dif­ferent kind of element in my community. So I will be looking for something that would be just like a lit­tle step, a level to help them prepare for Wake Tech, prepare for State.

What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
I do agree with the pub­lic safety center that they’re doing. I’m in agreement that everything should be in one place. How could the city best use emergency management, fire, police. You know, how could they best use these? Well, if they were in one place, yes, we would get services faster.

How do you feel about impact fees?
I probably need to re­search the impact fees a lit­tle bit more.

What ideas do you have for public transportation in Raleigh?
Well, I love the speed rail idea. I’ve rode the bus once or twice before, and it could be faster. I definite­ly know we have to have some trains, so you know, the light rail, speed rail … definitely, we’ve got to have that in any inner city, ab­solutely … that can get me from here to Charlotte or here to Washington, here to Virginia. I think it would definitely increase, I don’t know if you want to say tourism or visitation or just increase traffic to the downtown area.

How do you think the city should plan to meet its future water needs?
There needs to be plan­ning and infrastructure of the water system, but how that’s done, I would need more information. I would need more knowl­edge as to how to do that because that’s just not an area that I’ve really have a full understanding of how they do that, but of course whatever I would have to do to provide safe drinking water to the city as a whole is a priority.

The city has been given a million dollars to do whatever it wishes. What do you think the money should go to?
I would definitely put some money aside. I know they did this thing with Project Lift where it helped non-profits increase sustainability, build capac­ity, so I would definitely put some money in there. I would definitely look into more arts programs—cre­ative arts programs that provide vouchers or sti­pends for parents who might have gifted children but can’t afford to pay for arts programs for their kids.

I would definitely look into a small business loan program for small business support.

I would definitely in­vest in setting up the infra­structure for an affordable rental program, not nec­essarily just housing. We need more single family housing as well, but we’ve only got a million dollars.

I would use the money also to upgrade the com­munity centers to include technology, so that when there’s CAC meetings, they have an infrastruc­ture that will support tele­conferencing, Skype or any kind of video, webinar interface.

I know they just recent­ly gave the city staff a bo­nus, but I would definitely probably say some kind of a city employee appreciation something because they’re working really hard with a lot less.

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