Occupation: Retired Army Colonel
How long have you lived in Raleigh?
Why have you decided to run for office?
After 28 years of military service, I miss public service. There was an opportunity for me to give to my community. I’m very happy to live and work and play in North Raleigh. I wanted to get in the positions where I could do things for my neighbors, do things for my neighborhood. We’ve got a great quality of life here in Raleigh, and the reason why I’m running for that is I want to preserve that and improve upon it if I can.
What do you think are the three biggest issues the city faces and how would you address it?
I want to take those three decades of leadership, organizational and management experience and bring them to the city council. I’m a guy who knows how to build and sustain consensus in order to get things done. In special operations, you have to deal with various populations downrange that don’t necessarily like each other — Bosnians, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims for example. I figured if I can handle them, Democrats and Republicans and Independents shouldn’t be much tougher.
When I talk to folks up [in North Raleigh], the nonpartisan message comes through. They are really sick of what’s going on in D.C. and they do not want to see that here. I ask them what their concerns are. When it comes to quality of life issues, they’re concerned about schools. I explain that as a city council person there’s not a lot I can do about that. On things I can control, probably the top thing is traffic up in North Raleigh. Our streets were built for when we were 200,000 people. We’re now 400,000 people; we’re going to be over half a million here in 10 years. There needs to be a serious evaluation done of our streets in North Raleigh.
I would like to see more economic development up in North Raleigh. I’m not looking for light industry and that sort of thing, but we have a lot of potential up there for businesses that are kind of turn-key operations. So, it’s a variety of businesses and it’s a sustainability issue. You need to have residential and retail and businesses and a bit of a mix. I’d like to see that more up in North Raleigh. I’d like to see more sustainability when we plan growth for Raleigh.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions city council has made?
There’s a lot I like about the current council. In particular, the buying of the buffer land, because that shows vision and is also very pra c t ica l . If you can’t see the future then you can’t see the practicality of it.
Worst? There’s a lot of controversy about the public safety center. And let me be clear, the public safety center must be built. But I have yet to talk to any two people who agree what that should be. The decision on execution — not on whether or not it should be done — but the decision on execution needs to be looked at and modified accordingly.
What do you think is the most important issue facing your district and how do you plan to address that?
Well, the most important issue in our district is probably traffic, and that kind of goes into what I want to do with transit. We need to have an evaluation of our road system up there. It was designed for conditions that no longer exist. With the doubling of our population, with the opening of 540, very clearly there needs to be an upgrade in the way we do business. The other thing is, there should be better public transportation. Bus stops — most of the bus stops up there are a sign on a post. There’s no bench. There’s no s h e l t e r . There’s no digital display. There’s no solar panel that is feeding energy to that digital display saying when the next bus is. It is not a system that is District A friendly, or anybody friendly. That needs to change. There needs be a serious look at light commuter rail and see what that can do about taking some of these cars of the road.
What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
You need to have a state-of-the-art, world class, communication system that all city services are tied into, so that when we have something like the tornadoes, there is a very efficient and expeditious processing of that information in order to get services where they need to be, when they need to be there, to cut down on waste and confusion in the process. What we do with Lightner quite frankly is going to depend on what the after action report on the tornadoes that came through. That is a golden opportunity on what we need to do. A better evaluation can be made from that on what needs to be done.
How do you feel about impact fees?
I like the idea of folks who are coming in the area and who are impacting on Raleigh being the ones who help pay for the quality of life that they came here for. I do not like, as I saw the other day, the county commissioners shifting the burden to people that live here now. If you’ve got people that are coming into the area, they are the ones who should probably be paying for it.
What ideas do you have for public transportation?
I want to see greenways that are actually usable for transportation, and honestly, we’re almost there. Bring the greenways downtown and continue to maintain them. Bus ridership would increase if you had some place to sit and get out of the sun. I’m talking about minimal stuff here. We tout ourselves as a world-class city, let’s act like it. The roads, they probably need to be smarter. I don’t think the lights are smart enough, at this point, for the way that our traffic flows through, especially, District A. Light rail: I think they almost got that right. They almost got to downtown. I see value in having a light rail system. People in North Raleigh they say two things to me about light rail: downtown and airport.
How do you think the city should plan to meet its future water needs?
Continue to mitigate the degradation of our water systems by communities upstream. Also, there needs to be additional holding capacity done by opening up reservoirs. There are quarries that would be great for additional capacity. And, if we need to as a last resort, put in a new reservoir. I see that as a last resort, not a first option.
The city has been given a million dollars to do whatever it wishes. What would you do?
I’d take that money and try to find matching grants for a city priority, whether that’s transportation, water, greenways. But if you get a million dollars like that, I’m going to see how much more money I can get with that money by saying ‘Okay, county, state, federal: I’m willing to put down this amount of money in order to get an amount of money.’ And that could be whatever we can get our biggest bang for, for all the priorities we have in the city.